By far one of the most popular and desirable items of vintage clothing is the vintage party dress. Whether it be for the high school prom, hot date, music festival or party of the year, vintage party dresses are where it’s at! But did you know that there are actually eight different types of party dress? Yes that’s right eight! Where do you start? Well with our one stop vintage party dress guide we will take you through each and every style and give you all you need to know to make just the right choice!
1. Empire Line
The empire cut dress has a high waistline which usually begins just beneath the bust. This is teamed with a long, full skirt that flows straight from this waistline. The empire style is perfect for a pear shape or thick waist as it skims and hides the bottom half. It also creates an illusion of height for short or petite figures. The empire line vintage dress tends to be from the early to late seventies in an eclectic mix of plain bold or vividly printed flowing fabrics.
A sheath is a slim dress with very little fabric detail that hugs your curves in all the right places and outlines the silhouette of your body. The sheath is perfect for sleeveless styles and is great for showing off a well-toned body. Fitted sheath dresses are especially beautiful and graceful on tall, thin figures. It is most common to find a vintage sheath dress or vintage fitted dress from the eighties in fabrics such as velvet, satin and lycra.
3. The Mini
The mini dress has seen a real resurgence in the past few years. Short and sexy, the strapless version of this dress is probably the most popular of all the vintage party dresses, often referred to as the vintage prom dress. More recently the mini prom dress has been seen in bright candy colours like lime green, fuchsia pink and canary yellow. Great for petite figures with a great pair of legs and can be found in any decent vintage collection in a range of different styles and prints. Look out for eighties tulip and puffball skirts and mini mod sixties dresses with extra detail.
4. The Princess Gown
The princess gown has a form-fitted bodice that flares out from the natural waist to a full and bellowing skirt. This type of gown features a seamless waist and may also be called a a-line gown. The gently flared style flatters most figure types and is especially useful for disguising large hips and thighs. The vintage princess gown is typical of the late sixties and early seventies, at it’s best in wistful pastel chiffons or Grecian golds.
5. The Tea Dress
The tea-length dress is hemmed to end just at the shin. It has a fun, flirty appearance that is perfect for a slightly casual or more relaxed function. This dress style is ideal if your calves are your best feature or you have a tall, top heavy figure. The vintage tea dress is usually from the fifties and comes with or without sleeves. Look out for hem detailing and super cute ditsy floral and polka dot prints. Avoid the wrap dress in this length as this is really more for day wear.
6. The Uneven Hem
The uneven hem party dress is also known as a high-low gown. This dress is hemmed long at the back (at the ankles or to the floor) and just above the knees at the front. Other variants include a hem that is longer at one side than the other or one that is frayed to give a real glam peasant look. This is a unique, sexy party dress which is perfect for showing off long legs and an hourglass figure. The vintage uneven hem dress will almost always be from the eighties, for the bold amongst you there is always a great animal print version to find, other may prefer a little black number with some metallics or gem detailing.
7. The Bouffant Gown
A bouffant gown is characterised by a sheer, puffed-out skirt often made from stiffened net, nylon or silk. The skirt of this type of gown is similar in fabric construction (but not necessarily in length) to a ballerina tutu. The flared skirt is perfect for disguising a bottom-heavy figure and a shorter version can give your legs real pride of place. This is an eighties classic, you will find a fabulous array of vintage party dresses with bouffant skirts in any vintage shop or website. Long or short, the bouffant dress can come in a whole rainbow of different colours and patterns, often with puff sleeves to boot!
8. The Ball Gown
The ball gown is highly elegant and always dramatic. A full skirt that begins at the natural waist and proceeds to floor length. The waist is seamed and may be styled in various shapes and designs. The ball gown style visually cuts the body in half and is ideal for taller figures. The vintage ball gown will never be understated. Look to the eighties for a vast selection of styles from bottle green satin to gold and silver metallics and from oversize corsages to dusky pink taffeta.
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to all that’s fab about vintage party dresses! Now just how are you going to choose? As with all vintage clothing, don’t be afraid to experiment with colours, shapes and styles that you would not normally choose. You may just find the perfect party look is right around the corner!