Hello, and welcome to another All About article from Mood! This time we're talking about dress silhouettes and shapes!
There are so many kinds of dresses out there that it can be a little daunting trying to wrap our heads around their little differences, and so we wanted to collect a handful of some of the more well-known and popular styles and provide some insights about their designs and what makes them each unique!
Perhaps you're an at-home hobbyist looking into educating yourself on some professional fashion designing, or maybe you're a professional seamstress looking for some references to collect for your own convenience? For anyone and everyone, this article is here to help! We've created images and paired them with details and other tidbits of information to help you get through your project. Take a look below and see what styles you're familiar with, what's new, and maybe even some dress styles you already own!
A TRAPEZE dress is a dress style that is narrow at the shoulders and very wide at the hem of the dress. It’s like an A-LINE dress, but the TRAPEZE dress has a much wider hem than the A-LINE, and they often end below the knee.
A TENT dress is a style that is wide like the TRAPEZE dress, but the hem is flounced. TENT dresses also do not fall below the knee like the TRAPEZE dress usually does.
Wear one of these for a bit more flare than you would wear on a casual day!
The A-LINE dress is a popular style whose silhouette is narrow at the shoulders and gradually flares out towards the hem of the dress. This is where it gets its name from, because it’s shaped like a capital letter “A.” These dresses usually end somewhere at the knee or higher, never below.
A-LINE styles are great casual dresses, but semi-formal settings work well for them, too!
The PENCIL dress style is one that sports a straight and narrow cut, which makes it fit close to the body. In more modern fashion, PENCIL dresses can be found with rather short hem lengths, but their original design is usually a hem that falls to the knee.
Depending on the design, these dresses are nice for office-wear.
BELL dresses are a beautiful style that are cut fitted at the bodice, and they have a big, wide skirt that billows out in a bell shape. These dresses can be both short and long with hems ranging anywhere from the knee to the ankle.
These types of dresses are more popular for semi-formal to formal social events and gatherings.
BALLOON dresses have a similar shape to the BELL dress, because they have the fitted bodice at the top and a wide hem, but BALLOON dresses are loose and flow. They have all the fabric of a BELL dress without the bell shape, so the hem bounces with you as you walk. This is where the “balloon” part of their name comes from!
This style is a very cute one to show off and is great for casual and semi-formal wear!
The MERMAID dress is a very formal and long style of dress. It is cut straight and narrow like the PENCIL dress to the knee, and from there the skirt flows out into a flounced hem. This is where the “Mermaid” name comes from—the dress looks like a mermaid’s tail!
Sometimes the “tail” of these dresses are long enough to be considered a dress train. They’re a very elegant style.
The T-SHIRT dress is a combined style of a PENCIL dress with short sleeves! Taking the straight cut and adding the short sleeves gives this dress design the silhouette of a capital letter “T”!
This, like the TENT dress, is another style to wear when you’re looking for a bit more flare!
The EMPIRE dress silhouette comes with a fitted and very high “waistline” that sits just below the bust. This gives the wearer the appearance of having a higher waistline. From the bustline, the dress is cut straight and loose, so it skims right along the wearer’s shape and ends with a hem at the ankle.
The skirt of these dresses is gathered, too, so while the skirt is cut straight along the body, it flows. This longer style is another that is for a more elegant and formal occasion.
The CHARLESTON dress has a silhouette that is semi-fitted at the top, has a square shape along the hem, and is always designed to leave the arms uncovered. The entire fit is loose, though, so it’s not narrow like the PENCIL design or fitted like the BELL design. Probably the most notable piece of this design, however, is the dropped waistline which sits at the hips instead of the waist.
Another more colloquial name for this dress style is the “Flapper dress”! It’s an iconic style that was very popular in 1920’s America.
The SHEATH dress is the same as the PENCIL dress, except longer! Straight and narrow cut. But while the PENCIL dress hem doesn’t fall below the knee, SHEATH dress hems do! These hems don’t fall to the ankle, but usually just below the knee—never past mid-calf.
And lastly, the beloved FIT’N’FLARE dress! These dresses are often mixed up with A-LINE dress, since the FIT’N’FLARE design also sports a narrow top and wider hem, but the FIT’N’FLARE style is always fitted at the waistline whereas the A-LINE dress is not!
These dresses are very popular today and are great for both casual and formal-wear occasions! Plus, they look good on most body types!
And there you have it! Hopefully you've got a good grasp now on the different types and styles of dresses available for you to incorporate into your designs and projects! Have you sewn any of these kinds of dress shapes before? Which are your favorites to work with?