Here's why gowns will never go out of fashion

Here's why gowns will never go out of fashion

A top attraction at royal weddings, gowns are becoming popular among the Indian elite

Gowns designed by Jattinn.

The royal weddings surely seem to have taken centre stage, with women of all age groups wanting to know what the royal brides will wear for their big day. Lately, gowns have become quite popular among the Indian elite.

What are they? An evening gown is a long flowing women’s dress usually worn to a formal affair. It ranges from tea and ballerina to full-length. Evening gowns are often made of fabrics like chiffon, velvet, satin, or silk. Although the terms are used synonymously, ball gowns and evening gowns are different. Ball gown will always have a full, flared skirt and a strapless bodice, while an evening gown can be any silhouette - sheath, mermaid, A-line or trumpet shaped and may have straps, halters or even sleeves. It corresponds to men’s formal wear for white tie events.

A bit of history
In the Middle Ages, formal dress for women had yet to be developed. Women simply added a train to their kirtle for formal occasions. As centuries went by, most gowns were generally very elaborate, but more so for formal occasions. In the 18th century, formal dress started as the Mantua but later developed into the elaborate sack-back gown. Starting with the 19th century, the term “evening gown” began. The fashionable length was ankle-length, but during the reign of Victoria, the evening gown was floor-length. The styles ranged from having huge sleeves in the 1830s, to off-the-shoulder and with wide flounces in the 1840s, to very low-necked in the 1850s, to having low necklines and short sleeves in the 1860s, to long and lean with a bustle and very short sleeves in the 1870s, to sleeveless, low-necked, and worn with gloves in the 1880s, to having a squared décolletage, a wasp-waist cut, and skirts with long trains in the 1890s.

During the Edwardian era, the empire silhouette was popular. Today, Western wedding dresses are usually white though “wedding white” includes creamy shades such as eggshell, ecru, and ivory.

White did not become a popular option until after the wedding of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840. Victoria had chosen to wear a white gown for the wedding to incorporate some lace she owned. The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published, and many other brides opted for a similar dress in honour of the Queen’s choice.

The tradition continues even today in the form of a white wedding. Prior to the Victorian era, a bride’s dress could be of any colour; black was especially popular in Scandinavia. Later, many people assumed that the colour white was intended to symbolise purity and virginity.

In the 1920s, evening gowns were very simple, to match the style of the flapper era. Starting with the 1930s, they began to modernise. Along with the empire cut, over the years the sheath, mermaid, A-line, and trumpet shapes became popular. Also, the dropped waist and princess styles were preferred depending on the era. Today the evening gown comes in any silhouette and is popular for formal occasions such as the opera, formal dinners, cocktail parties, and wedding receptions.