A brief account of evolution of women’s evening party dresses over the ages

by Alen Cooper Buy Blazer, Coat, Jacket, Pant, Shirt for Men & Wo

‘Cocktail dresses’ are a special category of dresses ideal for semi formal occasions also called cocktail parties. This type of semi formal parties is usually arranged in late afternoons. You wear suitable accessories with this range of dresses to appear more stylish an elegant. But how did this start and when? Well, that’s an interesting story to spill.

The effect of ‘the modern woman’

The World War I brought lots of changes to the society. It was also the time when the concept of ‘working woman’ started becoming popular. In the post-war scenario women became more relevant to social context. As the idea of ‘modern woman’ started growing its roots in the society, business world felt the need of hosting cocktail parties to provide a warm and entertaining environment for both employees and customers. These parties usually kicked off after 5:00pm – after the normal business hours end. 

People attending these parties mingled with one another. In other words the guests had to walk around a bit to meet and greet people. Thus a fresh range of clothes appeared that facilitated easy and comfortable movement unlike those heavy gowns from the bygone era. This functional, fashionable and cozy clothing range became kind of uniform for elite and progressive women in the 1920s and early 30s.

Before that, till the 19th century dinner dresses for women were those heavy gowns from the Victorian age. These dresses looked chic and were pretty elaborate with long sleeves, narrow skirts and high neck. In the post WWI era, those gowns became obsolete as evening gowns picked up the trend. 

The 20th century witnessed another sharp bent in fashion. During the early 1920s American departmental stores were flooded with dressing ranges made by French designers. The prototype of cocktail dresses emerged in the US but the French were never far behind in modifying it and create their own version. The American design focused on functionality and efficiency of dresses while the French emphasized on simplicity and elegance. In other words the French version of evening cocktail party dresses for women were little loose in fitting and free-flowing.

The trend was picked up almost in no time. Americans found more comfort as well as style in beach pajamas, silk tops and palazzo pants, which they smartly paired with a mid calf-length wrap jacket or a sheath. This latest clothing merchandises heavily influenced by French elements were often worn for more intimate and exclusive gatherings.

What made this new range of dresses so popular overnight? As a matter of fact Americans in general were by that time looking for a single dress that can easily fit different environments throughout the day with inclusion of accessories. Gradually the length of these dresses shortened up to reach just below the knee in contrast to the ankle-high length of evening gowns.

Effect of the Great Depression

The Great Depression did not only affect the US economy but also left its indelible mark in the world of fashion. It was during this time that designers focused on making simple dresses with heavy use of accessories. Indirectly this helped the market for imitation jewelry, gloves, sheaths, hats and such other items. Furthermore, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 practically ended the days of extravagant corporate gatherings and private parties became more and more popular. That culture lead to the rise of day-to-evening fashion.


After the WWII ended fashion for women trended to tight waistline, fuller skirts and long hemlines. The combination of these trends was called the ‘new look’. Thus party dresses for women involved silhouette. Considering the huge popularity of cocktail dresses, American designers became innovative and tried out less costly fabrics to design their products during that era.

This is how the world of fashion has transformed itself time and again over the ages.

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About Alen Cooper Advanced   Buy Blazer, Coat, Jacket, Pant, Shirt for Men & Wo

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Joined APSense since, November 24th, 2018, From Valley Stream, United States.

Created on Jul 20th 2021 03:03. Viewed 259 times.


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