The vintage dress suit is the ultimate in adaptable outfits. Day to evening, wedding service to reception, outside to inside, it is the perfect two outfits in one solution. Though not always officially referred to as a ‘Dress Suit’ the perfect dress and jacket or coat combination can be the failsafe friend in your wardrobe. For many designers over the 20th century, the extra element to simple dresses has allowed them to add a new dimension with flaring sleeves, high collar, belts and pockets. Equally, contrasting trims and fabrics have created opposing piece which marry into the perfect ensemble.
Unlike their trouser and skirt suit counterparts, dress suits or dress ensembles are allowed a freedom of colour and pattern rarely seen in the others. Diagonally set tartans, plain coats trimmed with pockets and edges of a the floral print of the dress beneath. These are outfits often worn to happy, bright occasions whether it be mother-of-the-bride, or seasonal outdoor events. They save us from the dreadful dilemma of finding the perfect dress which, try as you might, is impossible to match with any other part of your existing wardrobe. And, going for contrast, why not have two which complement one another and can be worn as intended or interchanged!
When choosing a great designer dress suit, vintage dress suits have a lot to teach us. They perfectly illustrate the balance between the future dress styles with still a need for practicality and a covering what the dresses might reveal. In the 1960s, the sleeveless shift dress, though it had existed in various forms before, offered a fresh shape and style which was quickly one of the most popular styles of the decade. Its modernity is proved by how contemporary these dress still are and how popular they remain. Round necks, sometimes beaded, A line shapes, minimalist shaping and block colours. Pierre Cardin created almost robotic mini shift dresses and then paired them with futuristically designed jackets and coats with raised quilted collars and circular patch pockets. For those with a more classic taste, the 1950s also offered neat dress suits of empire line dresses, perfectly set collars and bow belted waists. Equally desirable are the, ‘cover all’ coats wihch allow you to go completely from one to the other. A beautiful dress coat or trapeze can conceal almost anything beneath and make you feel like you’re totally refreshed when you remove the outer layer to party into the night.