Strapless dress

Last updated
Strapless dress by Yiannis Evangelides, New York, 1956. PFF Collection. 1956 Yiannis Evangelides strapless evening dress.jpg
Strapless dress by Yiannis Evangelides, New York, 1956. PFF Collection.

A strapless dress or top is a garment that stays put around the upper body without shoulder straps or other visible means of support. It is usually supported by an internal corset and/or brassiere, with the tightness of the bodice preventing the dress from slipping out of position. [1]

Contents

History

Actress Libby Holman in an early strapless dress (1930) Libby-Holman-1930.jpg
Actress Libby Holman in an early strapless dress (1930)

1930s to 1980s

According to Richard Martin and Harold Koda, the modern strapless dress first appeared in the 1930s, where it was popularised by designers such as Mainbocher and from the late 1940s, Christian Dior. [1] The July 18, 1938, issue of Life claimed that the "absolutely strapless, sleeveless evening dress" was a 1937–38 invention. [2] However, that was predated in 1930 by the actress Libby Holman, who had been photographed in an apparently strapless dress that year. [3] Holman became associated with the strapless dress and is regularly credited with inventing it, [4] [5] [6] or at least being one of its first high-profile wearers. [7]

In 1934, Mainbocher produced his first strapless gown, a black satin design which has been described as the first strapless evening dress. [8] Along with Holman and Mainbocher, the heiress Brenda Frazier is also credited with popularising the style when she wore a strapless debutante dress for her debut and famously appeared in it on the November 14, 1938, cover of Life. [9] [10] [11]

Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946) Rita Hayworth as Gilda performing "Put The Blame On Mame" in the trailer for the film Gilda.jpg
Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)

Strapless dresses remained popular after the Second World War, with the style sometimes being described as the "naked look". [12] One of the most famous strapless dresses of this period was the black satin gown worn by Rita Hayworth for a song and dance routine in Gilda . [13] Hayworth's performance demonstrated to viewers that strapless dresses could be secure enough to move around and dance in without risk of indecent exposure. [13] Despite this, more conservative customers might add shoulder straps to their new strapless dresses. [12] The style was also problematic for those who objected to its perceived immodesty. During the 1940s and 1950s, Catholic campaigners in the United States protested against "immodest" clothing, including two-piece and strapless swimsuits and dresses. [14] In 1954, the United States Army tried to ban Army wives and daughters in Germany from wearing shorts, jeans, and strapless dresses, "except at appropriate social functions." [15]

During the 1950s, notable strapless dress designers included Madame Grès, whose flowing Grecian dresses were mounted upon custom-designed interior corsets by Alice Cadolle. [16]

In the 1970s, Halston designed an unstructured strapless dress. [17] The knitted tube top was worn as a casual strapless option, [18] and by the 1980s, strapless dresses were made in stretchy, elastic fabrics which did not require boning or interior structure. [19]

1990s onwards

Japanese bride wearing a strapless dress, 2010 Himeji-Oshiro-Matsuri 2010 087.JPG
Japanese bride wearing a strapless dress, 2010

In 2012, the strapless dress was described as the most widely requested style for Western wedding dresses. [20] Vera Wang is sometimes credited with introducing this style of bridal dress in the first decade of the 21st century, [20] although strapless dresses were an increasingly valid option from the 1990s onwards with the growing popularity of formal civil weddings from the 1990s. [21] [22] However, for religious weddings, strapless and shoulder-baring styles are potentially controversial, [21] and despite the popularity of the strapless wedding dress it is considered by some to be a "rejection of the virginal ideal". [23]

The strapless dress is also a very popular style for red carpet fashion. [13]

Social and cultural context

Since their introduction, strapless garments have proved problematic in many contexts. In the early 21st century, many schools and workplaces specifically forbid strapless garments as part of their dress code. An Adecco survey published in The Wall Street Journal in 2012 indicated that 72% of Americans thought strapless tops were inappropriate office wear. [24]

Religious stances

Strapless garments may be singled out for particular censure by preachers and clerics. In 2005, a Muslim cleric declared strapless garments "satanic", along with other revealing garments such as miniskirts and see-through clothing. [25] Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS church), declared that strapless gowns were neither righteous nor approved, and that no Latter-day Saint woman should wear one at any time, [26] while other Latter-day Saints declared them an "abomination in the sight of the Lord". [27] Such views may not necessarily reflect those of the majority of their associated religion, although a rule of thumb is that strapless garments are only acceptable in religious contexts, such as Catholic churches or Jewish bat mitzvahs, if the shoulders and arms are covered. [28] [ self-published source? ] [29]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wedding dress</span> Dress worn by a bride during the wedding ceremony

A wedding dress or bridal gown is the dress worn by the bride during a wedding ceremony. The color, style and ceremonial importance of the gown can depend on the religion and culture of the wedding participants. In Western cultures and Anglo-Saxon cultural spheres, the wedding dress is most commonly white, a fashion made popular by Queen Victoria when she married in 1840. In Eastern cultures, brides often choose red to symbolize auspiciousness.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crinoline</span> Petticoat designed to hold out a womans skirt

A crinoline is a stiff or structured petticoat designed to hold out a woman's skirt, popular at various times since the mid-19th century. Originally, crinoline described a stiff fabric made of horsehair ("crin") and cotton or linen which was used to make underskirts and as a dress lining. The term crin or crinoline continues to be applied to a nylon stiffening tape used for interfacing and lining hemlines in the 21st century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madeleine Vionnet</span> French fashion designer

Madeleine Vionnet was a French fashion designer. Vionnet trained in London before returning to France to establish her first fashion house in Paris in 1912. Although it was forced to close in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War, it re-opened after the war and Vionnet became one of the leading designers of 1920s-30s Paris. Vionnet was forced to close her house in 1939 and retired in 1940.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ball gown</span> Most formal style of full-length womans evening dress

A ball gown, ballgown or gown is a type of evening gown worn to a ball or a formal event. Most versions are cut off the shoulder with a low décolletage, exposed arms, and long bouffant styled skirts. Such gowns are typically worn with an opera-length white gloves and vintage jewelry or couture, stole, cape or cloak in lieu of a coat. Where "state decorations" are to be worn, they are on a bow pinned to the chest, and married women wear a tiara if they have one. Although synthetic fabrics are now sometimes used, the most common fabrics are satin, silk, taffeta and velvet with trimmings of lace, pearls, sequins, embroidery, ruffles, ribbons, rosettes and ruching.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cocktail dress</span> Semi-formal dress

A cocktail dress is a dress suitable at semi-formal occasions, sometimes called cocktail parties, usually in the late afternoon, and usually with accessories.

Mainbocher is a fashion label founded by the American couturier Main Rousseau Bocher, also known as Mainbocher. Established in 1929, the house of Mainbocher successfully operated in Paris (1929–1939), and then in New York (1940–1971).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeanne Lanvin</span> French fashion designer

Jeanne-Marie Lanvin was a French haute couture fashion designer. She founded the Lanvin fashion house and the beauty and perfume company Lanvin Parfums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1750–1775 in Western fashion</span> Clothing in Europe and areas under its influence from 1750-1775

Fashion in the years 1750–1775 in European countries and the colonial Americas was characterised by greater abundance, elaboration and intricacy in clothing designs, loved by the Rococo artistic trends of the period. The French and English styles of fashion were very different from one another. French style was defined by elaborate court dress, colourful and rich in decoration, worn by such iconic fashion figures as Marie Antoinette.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">See-through clothing</span> Garment through which the wearers body or undergarments can be seen

See-through clothing is any garment of clothing made with lace, mesh or sheer fabric that allows the wearer's body or undergarments to be seen through its fabric. See-through fabrics were fashionable in Europe in the eighteenth century. There was a "sheer fashion trend" starting with designer clothing from 2008. See-through or sheer fabric, particularly in skintone colours, is sometimes called illusion, as in 'illusion bodice' due to giving the impression of exposed flesh, or a revealing ensemble.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wrap dress</span> Dress with a front closure formed by wrapping one side across the other

A wrap dress is generic term for a dress with a front closure formed by wrapping one side across the other, and is fastened at the side or tied at the back. This forms a V-shaped neckline. A faux wrap dress resembles this design, except that it comes already fastened together with no opening in front, but instead is slipped on over the head. A wrap top is a top cut and constructed in the same way as a wrap dress, but without a skirt. The design of wrap-style closure in European garments was the results of the heavy influences of Orientalism which was popular in the 19th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of fashion design</span> Evolution of fashion world

History of fashion design refers specifically to the development of the purpose and intention behind garments, shoes an accessories, and their design and construction. The modern industry, based around firms or fashion houses run by individual designers, started in the 19th century with Charles Frederick Worth who, beginning in 1858, was the first designer to have his label sewn into the garments he created.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Train (clothing)</span>

In clothing, a train describes the long back portion of a robe, coat, cloak, skirt, overskirt, or dress that trails behind the wearer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dress</span> Garment consisting of a bodice and skirt made in one or more pieces

A dress is a garment traditionally worn by women or girls consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice. It consists of a top piece that covers the torso and hangs down over the legs. A dress can be any one-piece garment containing a skirt of any length, and can be formal or casual.

<i>Haute couture</i> Creation of exclusive, custom-fitted clothing

Haute couture is the creation of impeccable, custom-fitted high-end fashion design that today is partially constructed by hand and often utilizes other handmade, one-of-a-kind embellishments, notions and trimmings. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Frederick Worth made a name for himself dressing the then French Empress Eugenie and placed himself at the centre of an industry that grew out of traditional French dressmaking whose focus on making outfits from high-quality, expensive, often unusual fabric were best solidified in the 17th and 18th Centuries at the courts of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI.. Couture translates literally from French as "dressmaking", sewing, or needlework and is also used as a common abbreviation of haute couture and can often refer to the same thing in spirit. Haute translates literally to "high".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caraco</span>

A caraco is a style of woman's jacket that was fashionable from the mid-18th to early 19th centuries. Caracos were thigh-length and opened in front, with tight three-quarter or long sleeves. Like gowns of the period, the back of the caraco could be fitted to the waist or could hang in pleats from the shoulder in the style of a sack back. Caracos were generally made of printed linen or cotton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yellow Valentino dress of Cate Blanchett</span>

Australian actress Cate Blanchett wore a pale yellow silk taffeta Valentino dress to the 77th Academy Awards on 26 February 2005. It was the dress Blanchett wore when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in The Aviator in front of some 42.1 million people on American television. Cosmopolitan has cited the gown as one of the Best Oscar dresses of all time, stating, "In this yellow silk taffeta gown created especially for her by Valentino, Cate looks like a classic Hollywood starlet. The one-shoulder strap and contrasting belt are great details, and the color is perfect for her milk-white skin."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bouffant gown</span>

A bouffant gown is a women's dress silhouette made of a wide, full skirt resembling a hoop skirt. It may be tea length or floor length.

Sheridan Barnett is a British former fashion designer who worked with London boutique Quorum and launched the brand Barnett and Brown with Sheilagh Brown during the late 1970s. He went on to combine own-brand design with freelance work for names such as Jaeger, Norman Hartnell and Reldan, also working as a university academic. Barnett won Bath Museum of Costume's Dress of the Year award in 1983.

Popover is a type of dress originally designed by Claire McCardell in 1942. The outfit type became the basis for a variety of wrap-around dresses.

Louella Ballerino was an American fashion designer, best known for her work in sportswear.

References

  1. 1 2 Martin, Richard; Koda, Harold (1996). Bare witness. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 6. ISBN   9780870998027.
  2. "Underthings for the Strapless Vogue". LIFE. 18 July 1938. p. 33. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  3. "The Lure of Libby Holman". Theatre Magazine. May 1930. p. 57. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  4. Scheper, Jeanne. "Libby Holman." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 25, 2013).
  5. Casstevens, Frances H. (2006). Death in North Carolina's Piedmont : tales of murder, suicide and causes unknown. Charleston, SC: History Press. p. 74. ISBN   9781596291966.
  6. Bowie, Angie (2002). Bisexuality. Harpenden, Herts: Pocket Essentials. p. 58. ISBN   9781903047910. Libby Holman was a Jewish American who invented the strapless gown and was a celebrated torch singer.
  7. Waggoner, Susan (2001). Nightclub nights : art, legend and style, 1920-1960. New York: Rizzoli. p. 18. ISBN   9780847823314. Then there was the scandalous Libby Holman, whose accomplishments ranged from challenging race and gender stereotypes to popularizing the strapless evening gown.
  8. Steele, Valerie, ed. (2010). The Berg companion to fashion. Oxford: Berg. p. 492. ISBN   9781847885920.
  9. Gourley, Catherine (2008). Rosie and Mrs. America : perceptions of women in the 1930s and 1940s. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN   9780822568049.
  10. Ketchum, Richard M. (1989). The borrowed years, 1938-1941 : America on the way to war (1st ed.). New York: Random House. ISBN   9780394560113. strapless.
  11. "The Glamour Girl Reached her Peak". LIFE. 25 November 1946. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  12. 1 2 Palmer, Alexandra (2001). Couture & commerce : the transatlantic fashion trade in the 1950s. Vancouver: UBC Press [u.a.] p. 154. ISBN   9780774808262.
  13. 1 2 3 Rubenstein, Hal (2012). 100 unforgettable dresses. New York: Harper Design. pp. 206–207. ISBN   9780062198884.
  14. Jay, Kathryn; Winston, Diane (2002). John M. Giggie (ed.). "In Vogue with Mary" - How Catholic Girls Created an Urban Market for Modesty; published in Faith in the market : religion and the rise of urban commercial culture. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. pp. 177–198. ISBN   9780813530994.
  15. "Wives Told to Dress in Good Taste". The Age. 6 August 1954. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  16. Polan, Brenda; Tredre, Roger (2009). The Great Fashion Designers (English ed.). Oxford: Berg. pp.  69. ISBN   9781847882271.
  17. Polan, Brenda; Tredre, Roger (2009). The Great Fashion Designers (English ed.). Oxford: Berg. pp.  139. ISBN   9781847882271.
  18. Peterson, Amy T.; Ann Kellogg (2008). Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing through American History, 1900 to the Present. ABC-CLIO. p. 209. ISBN   978-0313043345.
  19. Steele, Valerie, ed. (2010). The Berg companion to fashion. Oxford: Berg. p. 266. ISBN   9781847885920.
  20. 1 2 Daniels, Maggie; Carol Loveless (2012). Wedding Planning and Management. Routledge. ISBN   9781136349140.
  21. 1 2 Steer, Deirdre Clancy (2009). The 1980s and 1990s. New York: Chelsea House. pp. 47–48. ISBN   9781604133868.
  22. Woram, Catherine (1993). Wedding dress style : the indispensable style-file for brides-to-be and designers. London: Apple. ISBN   9781850764632.
  23. Kohl, Martha (2011). I do : a cultural history of Montana weddings. Helena: Montana Historical Society Press. p. 74. ISBN   9780980129229.
  24. Kom, Melissa (20 July 2012). "What Not to Wear To Work". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  25. Devine, Miranda (24 April 2005). "Muslim cleric: women incite men's lust with 'satanic dress'". The Sun-Herald. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  26. Kimball, Spencer W. (1982). The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bookcraft. p. 286. ISBN   9780884944720.
  27. Wiley, Robert Gottlieb & Peter (1984). America's saints : the rise of Mormon power. New York, NY: Putnam's. p. 199. ISBN   9780399129247.
  28. Copeman-Bryant, Callie (2007). A Marriage Made in Italy - Area Guide 3: Rome. Lulu.com. p. 7. ISBN   9781847530707.[ self-published source ]
  29. Reinharz, edited by Barbara Vinick & Shulamit (2011). Today I am a woman stories of bat mitzvah around the world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 18. ISBN   9780253005175.{{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)