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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.

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 more often worn by women and girls.

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]

20th and 21st centuries[edit]

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. [2]


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

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.[3] For such occasions they remain the de facto standard attire for most women.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Davis, Michael (2007). Art of dress designing (1st ed.). Delhi: Global Media. ISBN 81-904575-7-8. 
  2. ^ changing hemlines
  3. ^ Pundir, Nirupama (2007). Fashion technology : today and tomorrow. New Delhi: Mittal Publications. ISBN 81-8324-203-0. 
  • 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]