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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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Carolina Herrera 1960s High Pleated Neck Brown Vintage Sack Dress

Carolina Herrera sack dress with long sleeves and a high neck with pintucks or stitched pleats

Oscar De La Renta 1970s Floral Print Blue Vintage Day Dress

Vintage 1970s Oscar De La Renta day dress in blue with a pink floral print.

Vintage 1960s Mod Drop Waist Nautical Style Black Dress

Vintage 1960s mod style dress in black with a drop waist, pleated skirt and nautical collar detailing.

Alexander McQueen 2010s Viscose jersey black vintage Dress

McQueen 2010 classic jersey black dress

Herve Leger 2010 Royal Blue vintage Bodycon Bandage Dress

Classic bandage dress by Herve Leger in royal blue

Chanel 2006 Tweed Boucle Belted black & navy vintage Shirt Dress -

Chanel Belted Boucle Shirt Dress

Versace 2010 Long Sleeve Body-Hugging Royal Purple vintage Cocktail Dress

Long sleeve purple clinging cocktail dress by Versace

Chanel 2006 silk black & white vintage cocktail dress

Chanel 2006 silk black & white vintage cocktail dress

Pucci 1960's Swish and Splash Print Cotton Green Vintage Dress

1960's Pucci dress with minty green with a print of blue and white.

Vintage 1950's Wide Bow Fixed Collar Black Wool Dress

1950's black wool dress with a wide sailor like collar fixed at the bust with a bow.

Alfred Shaheen 1950's Orchid Tiki Print Red Cotton Dress

1950's Alfred Shaheen wrap front convertible halterneck cotton tiki dress

Vintage 1960s Rouched Bodice Cream Silk Dress

1960's sheath dress in cream silk with a crossed ruched bodice with ribbon tape work covering the upper bodice and sleeves

Vintage 1970s Impressionist Sailboat Print Blue Sleeveless Sundress

Vintage 1970's cotton sundress with a V neck bodice and a pointillist of water with sail boats around the hem

Oscar de la Renta 1990s Ruffle Trim Navy Blue Vintage Dress

Vintage 1980s Oscar de la Renta dress in navy blue wool with a ruffle trim.

Carolina Herrera 1980s Polka Dot White Vintage Dress

Vintage 1980s Carolina Herrera dress in white with a black dot pattern and a contrasting black waist and cuffs.

Roberto Cavalli ruffle detail blue vintage Cocktail dress

Roberto Cavalli ruffle detail blue vintage Cocktail dress

Pierre Cardin 1980s Silk Flutter Sleeve black vintage Dress

A 1980s vintage dress by Pierre Cardin

Diane Freis 1980s Colorful Polka Dot pink vintage Dress

A 1980s vintage dress by Diane Freis

Teal Traina 1970s Chevron pattern vintage brown Dress

A 1970s vintage chevron dress by Teal Traina

Caryle 1960s Pleated Soutash Hot Pink vintage Party Dress

A 1960s vintage hot pink party dress by Caryle

Saks 1950s puff skirted Raspberry Red vintage Cocktail Dress

A 1950s vintage cocktail party dress by Saks Fifth Ave in raspberry red

Vintage 1950s Lace Illusion black Cocktail Dress

A 1950s vintage black & nude lace illusion cocktail dress

Vintage 1970s Micro Pleated purple Party Dress

A fun & flirty 1970s vintage dress in purple with sheer micro pleats

Vintage 1970s Crochet Boho style rust red colour Dress

A 1970s vintage crochet dress with boho style

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