In the early 1900s, women were fighting for the right to vote. Forced into bustles, corsets and long heavy dresses, women were stifled by propriety while being denied the opportunity to vote. As women’s suffrage began to permeate society, hemlines began to raise as women became more independent. The start of the hemline climb began in 1915 and continued until the 1960s when the mini skirt culminated the skirt hem to just below the pantie line. The long dress, at that time, was mostly reserved for formal occasions.
Recently a trend has begun in long dresses for all occasions. Choosing a long dress no longer means a formal affair is upcoming, in fact, more often than not, short dresses are being worn to formal affairs.
There are many types of formal and casual long dresses available in hundreds of skirt styles. A few important skirt styles are the A-line, ballgown, pencil, circle and pleated.
An A-line dress has a skirt which is gathered at the waist and begins to flare as it moves towards the hem. A ball gown is a full length skirt with a full skirt. Pencil skirts hang straight along the body and taper in towards the hem. Usually pencil skirts have a slit up the back or side to allow for ease of movement. The circle skirt is gathered at the wist and like an A-line, flares as it goes towards the hemline.
Pleated skirts have several folds of fabric down the length and across the breadth of the skirt. While these are the different types of skirts that dresses have, another factor in dress is the bodice and sleeve styles; bustier, empire waist, cap sleeves, spaghetti strap and long sleeves are just a few of the styles.
A bustier bodice has boning which holds in the tummy and ribs and pushes up under the bust line. An empire cut is when the waistline begins just under the bust and then falls the length of the dress, usually straight to the hem, but occasionally there is a flare. Capped sleeves are similar to short sleeves, but end just over the shoulder instead of mid arm.
Fabric is the most important factor in making a long dress casual or formal. Formal dresses are usually made of silk, taffeta, chiffon and blends of these materials. Casual long dresses are made with cotton, rayon, and polyester.
Long dresses are particularly beautiful when worn with heels rather than flats. For a more formal classic style, a woman might choose a stiletto, however for more comfort with the same style, a platform heel may provide better options. Platform heels come in many different varieties including unusual or classic styles and will look beautiful with casual or formal long dresses.