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Vintage Midi Dresses

Of all the skirted items in our wardrobes, a midi dress is probably the most worn and enjoyed.  It is a great choice for night and day, work and play and its length makes it the most versatile of all gowns as designers throughout the 20th century have proved.  In shape, fabric, colour and style the choices to be found in vintage midi dresses is boundless.  We defy any woman to find a dress in the shops today without seeing the ghost of its vintage dress grandmother still present. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, as skirts lifted off the ground, women realised what they’d been missing. During the First World War, while the men were away, women entered roles never previously considered, and this new workforce needed their everyday clothes to become practical to suit their new working lives.  Today, this remains too true with midi dresses often worn as a great option for work when you want to wear one.  Once the skirts had lifted, there was really no bringing them back down to the ground, unless to a ball, and the 1920's and designers such as Coco Chanel and Jean Patou created a new athletic aesthetic of young athletic bodies in columnar simple dresses.  The below the knee and mid-calf length dresses of the 1920’s and the following 1930’s and 1940’s demonstrated how truly elegant this length of dress can be with shift dresses, layered dresses, tea dresses, coat dresses and shirt dresses in beautiful fabrics from sheer layered chiffons to shining lamé and printed cottons to shimmering satins.

In contrast, midi dresses of the 1950’s offer an entirely different aesthetic.  Christian Dior and his ‘New Look’ of 1947 took full effect in the 1950’s with expanding skirts and nipped in waists. Dior had wanted to emulate the femininity of the 1930’s before War put practicality first.  Now, ration books went out the window as yards of fabric were cut to create this new fabulous silhouette.  Yet, as the decade progressed and moved into the 1960’s femininity could be expressed in an entirely opposing way with skirts with hemlines narrower than the hips, creating the iconic ‘wiggle’ effect on curvaceous figure like Marilyn Monroe as they walked.  For those without the prefect hip to bottom ratio, the 1970’s offered a new and refreshing alternative with Diane von Furstenburg’s wrap dresses in bold simple prints. Introduced in 1974, this is a style of dress which has proved such a hit that its popularity is really yet to fade.  Whatever your favourite midi dress shape or style, find a perfect example from every decade on the Open for Vintage rails.

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Genevieve Tarka 1980s Yellow Bodycon Party Dress

Genevieve Tarka Paris 1980s Yellow Bodycon Knit Jersey Cutout Party Dress

Averardo Bessi 1980s Umbrella Print Belted Shift Dress

Averardo Bessi 1980s Silk Jersey Vintage Rainbow Umbrella Print Belted Shift Dress

Jaeger 1960s Midi Trapeze Smock Dress

A fabulous vintage Women's long sleeve dress from the late 60s by iconic British heritage label, Jaeger

Jean Paul Gaultier Bondage Strape Cherry & Black Shift Dress

Jean Paul Gaultier Bondage Strap Cherry & Black Satin Party Cocktail Shift Dress

Emanuel Ungaro 1980s Black Ruched Velvet Evening Dress

A vintage Emanuel Ungaro formal party dress in a black ruched velvet with pretty black taffeta frilly ruffles and beaded black lace from the 1980s.

Moschino Cheap & Chic 1997 Watercolour Stripe Print Dress

Moschino Cheap & Chic 'Recipe' Watercolor Stripe Print Dress, 1997

Krizia 1990s Sleeveless Snakeskin Print Jersey Dress

Krizia Vintage Sleeveless Blue Ripped Snakeskin Print Stretch Jersey Dress, 1990s

Nina Ricci 1980s Black Chiffon & Silver Glitter Strapless Dress

Nina Ricci Vintage Black Silk Chiffon & Silver Glitter Strapless Dress, 1980s

Gianni Versace Couture Spring 2001 Batwing Dress

Gianni Versace Black Jersey Batwing Keyhole Neck Vintage Dress, Spring 2001

Givenchy Couture by Alexander McQueen 1997 Lace Dress

An incredible and rare vintage party dress from the 90s by luxury French fashion house, Givenchy designed by Alexander McQueen for the fall winter 1997 collection.

Moschino 1990s Black Crepe & Velvet Cocktail Dress

Moschino 1990s Black Crepe & Velvet Tulip Applique Vintage Cocktail Shift Dress

Hardy Amies Couture 1950s Black Silk Dress

Hardy Amies Couture 1950s Vintage Black Floral Silk Organza & Tulle Party Dress

Miss Julie 1970s Silver Panne Velvet Dress

1970s Vintage Silver Panne Velvet & Lace Art Deco Style Mid Length Dress

Sarah Whitworth 1980s Jacquard Evening Dress

Sarah Whitworth Vintage Hi Lo Petticoat Teal Jacquard Evening Dress, 1980s

Raffaella Curiel Couture 1980s Black & Bronze Evening Dress

Raffaella Curiel Couture Black & Bronze Floral Jacquard Evening Dress, 1980s

Yves Saint Laurent Documented Fall 1987 Evening Dress

Yves Saint Laurent YSL Documented Rive Gauche Black Cloqué Evening Dress, Fall 1987

Jean Paul Gaultier 1990s Red Mesh Boxer Style Dress

Jean Paul Gaultier Fine Sheer Red Mesh Vintage Boxer Style Dress, 1990s

Oscar De La Renta 2010 Textured Silk Party Dress

Oscar de la Renta Blue & Black Textured Silk Blend Halter neck Evening Party Dress

Gianni Versace S/S 1979 Silk Handkerchief Dress

Gianni Versace S/S 1979 Early Vintage Silk Chiffon Handkerchief Dress

Alexander McQueen Fall 2002 Cut Out Runway Dress

Alexander McQueen Dark Purple Silk Charmeuse Cut Out Evening Dress, Fall 2002

Murray Arbeid 1980s Red Flocked Velvet Vintage Gown

Murray Arbeid Red and Black Flocked Velvet and Taffeta Evening Dress, 1980s

Yves Saint Laurent 1980s Multicoloured Vintage Puffball Dress

Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Vintage Multicolored Pouf Bustle Dress, 1980s

Bob Mackie 1980s Beaded Vintage Little Black Dress

Bob Mackie Vintage Black Jersey Shift Dress with Trompe Loeil Beaded Dagger

Vicky Tiel 1980s Metallic Silver Vintage Party Dress

An incredibly sexy and elegant vintage Vicky Tiel dress from the 1980s in a silver lame fabric.