A Glimpse at the History of the Cocktail Dress
Let’s talk about the history of another women’s wardrobe resident – the cocktail dress. It’s meant for semi-formal events and, of course, cocktail parties. Oh, and it’s a close relative of the little black dress we featured in one of our previous posts "In Brief: Little Black Dress". It’s smart too, but can have lace or sequins to brighten it up a little.
The women of the post-World War I period craved for more freedom and elegance. Very soon they transformed into “modern women” and started spending more and more time at clubs, lounges and cocktail soirees. Now this sort of evening social life called for special “uniform.” There used to be a serious gap between afternoon dress and ball gown. The cocktail dress tried narrowing it down and succeeded. It was knee-long with no sleeves and collar, usually made from silk or chiffon, with some decorations. Owing to its versatility, with the right accessories it would look right any time from 3PM till late evening. The importance of accessories grew further in the uneasy 1930s, while the silhouette remained simple. The elbow length gloves and hats were a must until the late fifties. In the late 1940s Dior introduced the term “cocktail dress.” This was the beginning of a new culture with its specifics and etiquette. The dress itself became more revealing, elegant and eye-catching. Different styles, matching accessories, accessibility. But everything changes – in the 1960s the cocktail dress lost its popularity and was forgotten for quite some time. It reappeared closer to the nineties, this time to stay.
Today, a cocktail dress can be found in every woman’s fashion arsenal and in most designer collections. They are made of chiffon, satin and silk. One of the most popular accessories is a clutch. The dress can be worn for various events with less formal dress code, like parties, banquets, etc.
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