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Vintage Evening Dresses & Ball Gowns

Equivalent to men’s semi-formal and formal wear for black tie and white tie events, vintage evening dresses is perhaps the category our OfV editors get the most excited about. From the narrow-waisted dresses of the beginning of the 19th century, evening gowns have evolved with the exciting history of women and fashion throughout the century. With simple boyish silhouettes mirroring the daring Flapper sentiments in the 1920s, to the introduction of the sheath dress, mermaid dress, A-line dress, trumpet dress and princess dress. Though fashion overall is less and less of a formal affair, the silk, chiffon, velvet, satin or organza ball gown still prevails women’s formal dress. With the wide array of silhouettes on offer today, formal or informal, below we have untangled the most significant styles.

Sheath

A sheath dress fits the body tightly and generally has a straight drape. Its simple design invites for it to be dressed up or down with ease.

Mermaid

More on the formal side, the Mermaid dress is tight-fitting on the upper body and wider by the lower leg, resembling the shape of a mermaid.

A-line

Hailing from the 1950s and 1960s, the A-line dress is a shorter number with a tight fitting upper and an A-shape skirt.

Trumpet

Not dissimilar to a mermaid dress, the trumpet also flares by the knees, but often more subtly than the dramatic mermaid shape.

Empire

Popularised by Napoleon’s Josephine, the empire dress has a high waistline starting just below the bust, with a simple, straight-hanging, floor-long skirt.

Dropped waist

Often on the bohemian or flapper-style side, the dropped waist dress has a waist dropped down to the hips and a mini or midi length skirt.

Princess

The ball gown of choice for just about every Disney princess, the princess silhouette needs little further explanation.

OfV says: A unique and oftentimes much more affordable option, vintage evening dresses are the unrivalled choice for history honouring formalwear dazzling with charm. Browse our delightful edit of vintage evening gowns and discover imaginative vintage evening dresses beyond the ball gown. A Space Age sequin-covered dress from the 1960s; a 1920s Art Deco gown in velvet and sterling silver; a velvet cocktail dress with a dramatic ruffle skirt from the 1980s; or a subtle 1990s-style slinky slip dress in luxurious silk – whether you opt for the opulent or understated, perfect your after-hours style with a unique vintage evening gown from our edit below.

 

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Michael Goma 1978 Documented Silk Lamé Evening Set Size S

A stunning Michel Goma evening set from 1978 comprising a blouse and a maxi skirt. Both pieces are made from a fine silk in a deep burgundy red, shot with metallic gold and silvery black lurex threads.
£600.00

Givenchy 1980s Vintage Silk Taffeta Evening Dress Size XS

A beautiful Givenchy evening dress from the 1980s made from a rustling black silk taffeta with an interesting moiré effect.
£440.00

Christian Dior 1970s Vintage Silk Lamé Evening Dress Size M-L

A spectacular Christian Dior evening dress from he 1970s featuring a wonderfully airy, floaty cut.
£1,235.00

Vivienne Westwood 1990s Vintage Avant Garde Dress

Vivienne Westwood Gold & Blue Lurex Avant Garde Zipper Dress, 1990s
£350.00

Roter 1970s Vintage Raw Silk & Velvet Evening Dress

Roter Vintage Brown Raw Silk & Velvet Bell Sleeve Evening Dress, 1970s
£120.00

Gianfranco Ferre Satin Velvet Detail Black Vintage Evening Dress Gown

Vintage Gianfranco Ferre satin gown style dress in black with a velvet detail at the top.
£331.20

Valentino Silk Ruffle Aqua Green vintage Evening Dress

Valentino Aqua Green Silk Ruffles Evening Maxi Dress with beading
£358.80

Catherine Walker 1980s Navy Blue Ribbonwork Evening Dress

Catherine Walker Navy Blue Silk Ribbonwork & Crepe Couture Evening Dress, 1980s
£280.00

Gianni Versace 1990s Asymmetrical Evening Gown

A 1990s Gianni Versace Black Double Layered Rayon Jersey Knit Dress
£600.00

Victor Costa 1970s Red Brocade Evening Dress

Victor Costa Romantica Red, Purple & Green Metallic Brocade Evening Dress, 1970s
£180.00

Thierry Mugler 1990s Velvet Cocktail Dress

A 1990s Thierry Mugler Flocked Velvet Dramatic Neckline Dress
£600.00

Arnold Scaasi Red Strapless Evening Dress

Arnold Scaasi Vintage Red Floral Lamé Brocade Strapless Evening Dress, 1980s
£300.00

Gianfranco Ferre 1990s Blue Shoulder Train Dress

Gianfranco Ferre Vintage Navy Blue Crepe & Satin Shoulder Train Dress, 1990s
£300.00

Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garcons 2014 Deconstructed Dress

This incredible example of Watanabe's work was featured as the penultimate piece in the 2014 runway show.
£480.00

Bruce Oldfield Couture 1990s Silk & Organza Black Gown

Bruce Oldfield Couture trompe l'oeil embroidered silk & organza strapless gown
£320.00

Kenzo Draped Silk Chiffon Floral Maxi Dress

A Kenzo Black & White Draped Floral Polka Dot Silk Chiffon Maxi Dress
£250.00

Curiel Couture 1970s Black & Grey Printed Velvet Evening Gown

A Curiel Couture vintage black & grey printed velvet & chiffon evening gown, 1970s
£400.00

Missoni Grey Cashmere and Silver Lurex Gown

Missoni grey cashmere and lurex knitted long dress from the 2000's
£900.00

Yves Saint Laurent 1970s Green Velvet Evening 3 Piece Set

An incredible and very rare Yves Saint Laurent evening set from the late 1970s, c. Russian Collection era.
£2,605.00

Vintage 1980s Red Moire Sash Bow Long Dress

Long red 80s strappy dress with a beautiful large bow
£225.00

Valentino 1990s Silk Velvet Black Cocktail Dress

Valentino 1990s black velvet cocktail dress with transparent silk sleeves
£260.00

Balenciaga 1980s Black Silk Gazar Buble Cocktail Dress

Important vintage Balenciaga black gazar cocktail dress
£850.00

Chanel Draped and Pleated Silk Chiffon Midnight Blue Dress

Vintage Chanel midnight blue silk chiffon dress from circa 2000 Spring / Summer Collection
£1,000.00

Gianni Versace Couture 1990s Chiffon Black Vintage Evening Dress

Gianni Versace sleeveless dress with a shaped bodice and handkerchief hem and narrow shoulder straps
£1,299.30

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