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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 many cultures, dresses are more often worn by women and girls.
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Before the Victorian period, the word "dress" usually referred to a general overall mode of attire for either men or women, as reflected today in such phrases "evening dress", "morning dress", "travelling dress", "full dress", and so on, rather than to any specific garment. At that time, the most-often used English word for a woman's skirted garment was gown. By the early 20th century, both "gown" and "frock" were essentially synonymous with "dress", although gown was more often used for a formal, heavy or full-length garment, and frock or dress for a lightweight, shorter, or informal one. Only in the last few decades has "gown" lost its general meaning of a woman's garment in the United States in favor of "dress".
In the ancient world, for example Ancient Greece and Rome, both men and women wore a similar dress-like garment termed generically a tunic. From this developed the dress worn by women and male clothing such as cassocks and Fustanella worn by priests and soldiers respectively. An ancient Greek tunic, appearing on the Charioteer of Delphi inspired an early twentieth gown designer, Mariano Fortuny to create the Delphos gown in 1907.
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.
20th and 21st centuries
Beginning around 1915, hemlines for daytime dresses left the floor for good. For the next fifty years fashionable dresses became short (1920s), then long (1930s), then shorter (the War Years with their restrictions on fabric), then long (the "New Look").
Since the 1970s, no one dress type or length has dominated fashion for long, with short and ankle-length styles often appearing side-by-side in fashion magazines and catalogs.
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. For such occasions they, together with blouse and skirt, remain the de facto standard attire for many girls and women.
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Maxi dresses (c.1970) - maxi is a term used since the late 1960s for ankle-length, typically informal dresses.
- 1795–1820 in fashion
- 1820s in fashion
- 1830s in fashion
- 1840s in fashion
- 1850s in fashion
- 1860s in fashion
- 1870s in fashion
- 1880s in fashion
- 1890s in fashion
- Artistic Dress movement
- Clothing terminology
- History of Western fashion
- Women wearing pants
- Victorian dress reform
- Victorian fashion
- Condra, Jill. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing Through World History: 1801 to the present. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 59. ISBN 9780313336652.
- Davis, Michael (2007). Art of dress designing (1st ed.). Delhi: Global Media. ISBN 81-904575-7-8.
- changing hemlines
- Pundir, Nirupama (2007). Fashion technology : today and tomorrow. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 81-8324-203-0.
- Cumming, Valerie; Cunnington, C.W.; Cunnington, P.E. (2010). The dictionary of fashion history (Rev., updated and supplemented [ed.]. ed.). Oxford: Berg. p. 130. ISBN 9780857851437.
- 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
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