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For the general concept of dress, see Clothing. For other uses, see Dress (disambiguation). "Dresses" redirects here. For the song by Betty Blowtorch, see Betty Blowtorch#Discography.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres depicts the Comtesse d'Haussonville, wearing a dress

A dress (also known as a frock or a gown) is a garment consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice (or a matching bodice giving the effect of a one-piece garment). In Western culture, dresses are usually considered to be items of women's and girls' apparel.

The hemlines of dresses vary depending on the whims of fashion and the modesty or personal taste of the wearer.[1]


19th century[edit]

Dresses increased dramatically to the hoopskirt and crinoline-supported styles of the 1860s; then fullness was draped and drawn to the back. Dresses had a "day" bodice with a high neckline and long sleeves, and an "evening" bodice with a low neckline (decollete) and very short sleeves.

Throughout this period, the length of fashionable dresses varied only slightly, between ankle-length and floor-sweeping.[1]

See also History of Western fashion: 1795–1820, 1820s, 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1880s, 1890s
Victorian fashion, Artistic Dress movement, Victorian dress reform.


A typical pre-prom gathering, with girls in dresses, and boys in tuxedos

In Europe and the Americas, dresses are worn by females of all ages as an alternative to a separate skirt and blouse or trousers.

Dresses however can be cooler and less confining than many trouser styles, and are therefore commonly worn in warmer weather.

In most varieties of formal dress codes in Western cultures, a dress of an appropriate style is mandatory for women. They are also very popular for special occasions such as proms or weddings.[2] For such occasions they remain the de facto standard attire for most women.

Dresses can be worn for a number of sports - most notably tennis, netball and figure skating. Their traditional status as formal wear has carried over into ballroom dancing, where they are the garment worn by most female participants.

Types of dress[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Davis, Michael (2007). Art of dress designing (1st ed.). Delhi: Global Media. ISBN 81-904575-7-8. 
  2. ^ Pundir, Nirupama (2007). Fashion technology : today and tomorrow. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 81-8324-203-0. 
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Brockmamn, Helen L.: The Theory of Fashion Design, Wiley, 1965.
  • Picken, Mary Brooks: The Fashion Dictionary, Funk and Wagnalls, 1957. (1973 edition ISBN 0-308-10052-2)
  • Tozer, Jane, and Sarah Levitt: Fabric of Society: A Century of People and Their Clothes 1770–1870, Laura Ashley Ltd., 1983; ISBN 0-9508913-0-4

External links[edit]