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Style Guide

The History of the Long Dress and Why We Wear It

by Wajma A Nasri 10 Feb 2022 0 Comments

I'm sure you've seen the long dress make a big comeback in the fashion world. More and more designers are bringing out new lines of long dresses, and long dresses are all over the runway. You might wonder why the long dress is making a comeback. Where did the long dress originate? Why did women stop wearing long dresses? Where did they go? Where did they come back from? We will discuss the history of the long dress, and why we wear it.
1. What is a long dress?
A long dress is a standard women's dress silhouette that hangs down to the floor. The length is often ankle-length, but can also be tea-, ballerina-, or floor-length. Historically, a woman's dress was a symbol of her station in life. Women of high status wore long dresses because they could afford the extra fabric and the time to sew a dress that hung all the way to the ground. For the less fortunate, a long dress was a mark of wealth and privilege. Today, we can still see a long dress as a sign of elegance and luxury. They often wear it for formal events, such as weddings or galas.

Illustration of 18th century French women

Illustration of 18th century French women

2. How long did it take for women to adopt the long dress?
It took quite some time for women to adopt the long dress as their go-to outfit. Mostly, women were still wearing skirts and blouses well into the early 1900s. It was not until the 1920s that the long dress really took off. We can attribute this to several factors, including the rise of women's suffrage, the flapper movement and the general trend towards more relaxed and comfortable clothing. Once women had the right to vote and expressed themselves more freely through their clothing, it was only natural that the long dress would become popular. It has since remained a mainstay in women's fashion, with only minor modifications over the years.
3. How did the style and types of long dresses change over the years?
The long dress has a history that spans centuries and has strengthened dramatically over the years. While the wealthy and elite only wore the long dress, it has now become a popular style for all women. There are many types of long dresses, each with its own unique style and look. Long dresses can be formal or informal and are perfect for all occasions. Whether you're attending a formal event or just want to feel elegant and feminine, a long dress is the perfect choice.

French afternoon dress, circa 1903, cotton and silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

French afternoon dress, circa 1903, cotton and silk, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
4. Why did we stop wearing long dress?
So why did we stop wearing long dresses? It seems like something so comfortable and flattering, so why don't we see them as often anymore? There are a few plausible explanations. For one, we can see the long dress as impractical. It's hard to do everyday things like go to the bathroom or run errands when you're wearing a floor-length skirt. It's also seen as outdated and traditional, which may not be desirable to some women. Finally, the long dress can be seen as stuffy or formal, which might make people feel uncomfortable or too dressed up.

Empire dress, 1800–1805, cotton and linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Empire dress, 1800–1805, cotton and linen, Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
5. Why did we start wearing long dresses again?
So why are long dresses making a comeback? Some people might say it's because of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which have brought attention to the importance of women feeling comfortable and empowered in their own skin. There's a new appreciation for the power and beauty of feminine modesty, and long dresses can help to convey that message. They're also a great way to show off your fashion sense and style, while still keeping things modest. Whether you're headed to a formal event or just want to feel a bit more glamourous, a long dress is the perfect way to do it.
The long dress has a rich history that began in Ancient Greece and continued to change and adapt as we progressed through the centuries. However, it wasn't until the 20th century that its popularity declined. Today, we're seeing a huge resurgence of long dresses among women who value modesty and who want to look beautiful without compromising their values.
-W.Nasri - xoxo

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“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.”

– Ralph Lauren
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