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Vintage Maxi Dresses

It is just over 100 years since hems started to scandalously stray above the ankle bone.  The full length dress (or close to it) was once the fashion uniform for western women.  Now, designer maxi dresses are a choice we make from our wardrobes of plenty, and a great one at that. Though they remained de rigour for evening wear and did appear in the decades of the first half of the century for day wear too, it seemed to take the progression up the leg to the mini dress or skirt in the 1960’s which finally brought about a subversive effect, bringing skirts back to earth in the bohemian age with maxi length dresses.

The 1960’s was a decade where many styles and aesthetics rubbed shoulders and while some aspired to geometric shapes and bold colours of the ‘London look’ others harked back to earlier eras to source their clothing and the concept of ‘Vintage’ fashion was born.  Contemporary designers such as Thea Porter and Gina Fratini took inspiration from antique Edwardian sources to create romantic dresses and kaftans.  Other designers such as Emilio Pucci and Ossie Clark with his wife Celia Birtwell were experimenting with psychedelic print and colour and nowhere could these have more impact than the full skirt of a maxi dress.

However, if there is a decade of the 20th century to which the maxi skirt belongs, it is surely the 1970’s.  Carrying forward the riotous colour of the late 1960’s, designers such as Bill Gibb, Louis Féraud, Zandra Rhodes, Yuki London and Yves Saint Laurent (often with ensemble pieces) took up the mantel and played with shape and form.  A long line was in with trouser suits and dinner suits becoming a very popular choice for many women.  The elegance of this form matched a similar aesthetic shift in maxi dresses.  With his silky, plunging and fluid creations, American designer Halston brought the full length dress to a wider, sleeker, more urban audience with dresses designed to wear from day to night.  In his simple and minimalist designs, women could feel like goddesses and certainly his greatest fans such as Pat Cleveland and Bianca Jagger looked like minor deities in them.  Today vintage maxi dresses or, what some might call retro maxi dresses, prove to be great style hits not just for the beach.  A perfect choice for summer, worn with a great platform heel, a neat pair of trainers, a biker jacket and a belt, these dresses can take on a new life.

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Saks Fifth Avenue 1960s Lace Applique Pale Pink Vintage Evening Dress

1960's sleeveless full length evening dress in textured pink jacquard fabric with lace appliqué bands to the skirt and bottom of the bodice

Bernard Freres 1970s Striped Black & Silver Vintage Maxi Coat

Bernard Freres maxi coat or dress coat with a button front and mandarin collar

Vintage 1960s Sequinned Turquoise Blue Evening Dress

A 1960's full length gown with silver sequinned bodice and long sleeves

Thomas Wardle 1970s Black & Silver Vintage Maxi Dress

1970's kimono sleeve maxi dress in black with striped sleeves and belt

Ossie Clark 1960s Moss Crepe Black Vintage Maxi Dress

Ossie Clark for Radley button front, long sleeved black moss crepe maxi dress

Vintage 1960s Long Sleeved Navy & Silver Evening Dress

Late 1960's - early 1970's long sheer sleeved evening dress with a high empire waist

Vintage 1970s Sequin Halterneck Floaty Black Evening Gown

Floaty full length gown with a halterneck embellished with sequins

Vintage 1920s Silk Chiffon Floral Print Orange Vintage Dress

1920's chiffon dress with a large floral print in tones of orange, frills to each shoulder and a drop waist

Vintage 1970s Chiffon Ruffle Shocking Pink Evening Dress

1970's bright pink chiffon dress with a deep layered ruffle flounced falling from the neckline and dipped back and full gathered skirt

Versus Sleeveless Abstract Print Grey Vintage Slip Dress

Versus sleeveless maxi slip dress with fine straps and a print of fine waving lines of a grey ground

Vintage 1970s Crochet Purple Maxi Dress

1970s crochet dress in purple, pink and cream wit cap sleeves and a floral like design

Vintage 1960s LacePink & Yellow Maxi Dress

A 1960s vintage pink & yellow lace maxi dress

Liancarlo 1980s sequin black vintage Evening Dress

A 1980s vintage evening dress by Liancarlo

Vintage 1970s Boho Embroidered Tapestry blue & brown Caftan Dress

A 1970s vintage bohemian tapestry caftan maxi dress

Bill Tice 1970s Zebra Caftan brown & white vintage Maxi Dress

A 1970s vintage maxi caftan dress by Bill Tice

1960s Artisan Hand Painted Silk Caftan yellow & greeb vintage Dress

A 1960s vintage artisan painted silk caftan maxi dress

Vintage 1970s Metallic Thread Boho black vintage Maxi Dress

A 1970s vintage boho maxi dress in black with colorful metallic thread

Leonard 1970s Metallic Brocade blue vintage Evening dress

A 1970s vintage colorful metallic brocade evening gown by Leonard

Mike Benet 1960s Strapless Pleated white vintage Maxi Dress

A 1960s vintage evening dress by Mike Benet

Elinor Gay 1960s Boho Burnt Orange vintage Dress & trouser Set

A 1960s vintage bohemian style dress / top with matching pants by Elinor Gay

Dominic Rompollo 1970s Sequin black vintage Maxi Dress

A 1970s vintage black sequin maxi dress by Dominic Rompollo

Vintage 1960s One Shoulder Chiffon Caftan striped black dress

A 1960s flowing one shoulder chiffon caftan gown in black with colorful stripe

Vintage 1970s Crochet cream vintage Boho Maxi Dress

A 1970s crochet knit boho maxi dress in cream

Vintage 1970s Boho kimono sleeve cream Maxi Dress

A 1970s vintage boho style maxi dress with matching kimono sleeve cover up top

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