History of Ball Gowns

History of Ball Gowns

Cionna Washington (10th), Reporter

What pops in your head when you hear the word “Ball Gowns?” Most people would think of Disney princesses and big unnecessary dresses. But in reality, they are not just a dress on a screen; they have so much history behind them and they have various styles.

So what are ball gowns, and when were they worn, and most importantly who created these dresses? They typically incorporate a low décolletage, a constricted body, bared arms, and long bouffant skirt. Ball gowns are a type of evening gown worn to a ball or a formal event. Ball gowns were designed by Emile Pinqat in 1867.

There are 7 major styles of gowns: A- Line, modified A-line, ball gown, sheath gowns, empire waist, mermaid and trumpet gowns. Big gowns were also called Empire Style. An A-line gown is fitted in the hips and gradually flares out from the waist to the train.  A sheath dress is a fitted, straight cut dress, often nipped at the waistline with no waist seam. A tight fitting bodice throughout the hips and gradually flares out at the mid-thigh. An Empire waist is fitted bodice ending just below the bust, giving a high-waisted appearance, and a gathered skirt which is long and loosely fitting but skims the body rather than being supported by voluminous petticoats. A trumpet gown fits snugly around the waist and hips then flares out around mid-thigh.

In the coming years, the introduction of the sewing machine changed the dress market. From 1860-1864 skirts had developed an overall ball shape but with extra fullness at the back. 1865-1867 skirts lost their front shape and were altered to lay more flat against the body while the sides and back gained fullness with pleating techniques. Oftentimes a long train was attached to the back of the skirt. For the next 10 years the fullness in the back of the skirts increased from there with the use of the bustle.

A Pitman High School sophomore, Megan Schweitzer, was asked if she thinks ball gowns should be brought back to fashion, and she stated “Yes because they are very pretty and fancy”.

Overall Ball gowns are beautiful and I think we should start bringing back wearing them to dances and parties.