Party Dresses & Evening Wear

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The silk chiffon dress seen here features Art Deco-inspired metallic embroidery and pink, green, brown, and blue glass beading.

Art Deco was a decorative arts and architectural movement that made its official debut to the world in 1925 at Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris, France. The fashion world, inspired by the new aesthetic, soon saw designers incorporating Art Deco patterns and motifs into their designs. This era of fashion was ruled by sophistication, opulence, lush and colorful fabrics, metallics, and detail-oriented patterns.

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A low v-shaped neckline, with low armholes, coupled with a decorative “slip” with a square neckline was a popular trend for formal eveningwear. This style allowed for modesty, but with the illusion of having ones under slip exposed.

Beading, as opposed to a separate belt or sash, creates the emphasis on the dropped-waist. A large flower made from pieces of pink velvet and metallic cording sits on the shoulder, a, popular technique to draw the observer’s eye up to the neckline and help to balance out drop-waist, which, in general, emphasized the widest part of the wearer’s body.

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The vibrant green color of this next party dress would have made it particularly eye-catching at any social gathering. This silk satin dress features a draped sash on one shoulder, making it another example of the popular asymmetry of 1920s fashion. The drop waist design would have lowered the wearer’s natural waist, with the sash and bow helping to give the dress its shape. These design elements add visual interest to an otherwise unassuming silhouette.

The bare arms, shoulders, and upper backs of 1920s dresses were often covered with equally fashionable coats, jackets, or capes while a woman was en route to her destination. The style and fabric varied depending on the season, but one of the biggest trends was to have fur trimmings and large buttons, as seen on the coat displayed here. 

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This coat is made from a light weight fabric, appropriate for the spring or milder winter climates. Coats were often designed to be oversized and loose in order to give the wearer a carefree, shapeless appearance. This coat is one-of-a-kind, featuring a hand painted floral design, making it a wearable piece of art.

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While plain compared to some of the fancier evening dresses of the decade, this silk crêpe de Chine dress is gorgeous in its simplicity. It features popular stylistic details, such as an overall straight cut, an asymmetrical handkerchief hemline, and low-cut back. This type of hemline was a popular way for the wearer to give the impression of a shorter dress, while still having much of her leg covered. It would have also flowed nicely while dancing or moving about.

At the start of the decade, sleeveless dresses usually indicated evening wear, but as the years passed and fashion trends changed, sleeveless “slip on” chemise dresses would have been worn for both afternoon and evening get-togethers. The simplicity of these types of dresses meant that the wearer could simply pair it with different accessories and wear it for multiple types of occasions.

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Placing the matching belt around the hip, as opposed to the natural waist, created the drop waist effect. The rhinestone buckle also gave the outfit a bit of sparkle. Coco Chanel was, and still is, known for many fashion innovations, but one of the most easily accessible was that of costume jewelry. Imitation stones, plastic, and metals were wildly coveted by the mid-1920s and this dress could have easily been paired with additional costume jewelry to give it more glamour. Drop earrings, a long strand of fake pearls, a stack of bracelets, or a shoulder brooch all would have done the trick. 

Party Dresses & Evening Wear