Ladies, it’s time to go out! Trade in your two-tone leather and reptile skin shoes for some embroidered and brocaded fabrics and silk for the evening! Maybe even take it up a notch and wear heels with jeweled buckles and decorative inlays.
Evening gowns tend to be straight cut or tabard-style with side inserts. They feature low necks and backs with thin shoulder straps. I personally love this style and wish we could wear these elegant dresses all the time! They are as loose as day dresses, but are almost always sleeveless—both great characteristics for dancing! Recently, they’ve been getting a bit shorter too.
While the cuts of dresses these days are relatively simple, they are extremely decorative. From the Slavic designs brought by Russian immigrants to the Egyptiana influenced by the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb (featuring scarabs and lotus flowers). There is even a craze for Chinoiserie influenced by the production of ornate and richly colored printed and woven fabrics. Devoré is an excellent example of just this.
Haute couture designers demonstrate their skills by combining embroidered and beaded decoration with fine brocaded silks. Sometimes they would include gold and silver lamés. Seeing as we receive mass produced clothing inspired by these great designers, it is important we pay attention to their latest innovations in order to anticipate trends.
Of course, shoes and bags are made to match specific evening gowns. Bags appear to be getting larger in order to keep more accessories in them, including cosmetic compacts, cigarette cases, and cigarette holders.
The (arguably) most important aspect of your evening attire is the shawl. These can be dramatic but are extremely sophisticated and important in keeping you warm and comfortable throughout the night. They can be draped a variety of ways but always add to the flat, pillar-like form the gown creates. My favorite shawls are fringed in silk and are imported from India or China.
I hope you all feel ready to go out and paint the town red!
Mendes, Valerie, and Amy De La Haye. Fashion Since 1900. London: Thames&Hudson, 2010. Print. Thames&Hudson World of Art.