Imagine a beautiful soirée in an English country-side with delicious delicacies and wine. How about slow and sweet Jazz music being played in the background? Or recollect the age-old adage of Cinderella… Well, these descriptions are incomplete without the mention of one of the most elegant dresses – the “Ballgown”.
What are Ballgowns?
Since time immemorial, ballgown or ballkleid as it is known has been popular for its grace while always being à la mode. With open shoulders and bouffant-styled skirt, ball gowns are an epitome of elegance.
Hand sewn with chosen fabrics like satin, silk etc., set straight using a corset, they were the go-to preferences of women for a long time. Even after the venture of various choices of clothing for women, ball gown stands apart when it comes to exhibiting class and grace. Paired with the right kind of accessories, they can for sure be head turners.
Evolution of Ball Gowns:
The advent of technology in the textile industry changed the preferences and expectations of the people to a great extent. Ballgowns or ballkleid were no longer handmade. They were made using a sewing machine. This improved the quality and the turnaround time. The dying industry also changed the look of ball gowns. They were made colorful than earlier. Many different kinds of fabrics even the artificial ones began to get used in the making of ball gowns. After all these, even the middle-class was able to afford ball gowns.
Normally, ballgowns are paired with stole, cloak, vintage jewelry, tiara depending on the marital status. In the mid 19th century, small changes started appearing in the ball gowns. Open shoulders were replaced by puff sleeves, the skirts were extra full at the back. A decade later, they were flat from the front and were fuller from the sides and back. This fullness kept increasing until a decade later. Then the fullness decreased and was given a bouffant effect using fabric and this is called crinoline. During the end of the 19th century, the ball gown started having its hourglass form meant for slim waists. Sometime in between these changes, trains were used to make it even more extravagant.
Changes were made not just in the ballkleid, but after the Second World War, the events to which they were normally worn were also different because of the changes that occurred in the society. The outfit that once reflected class, elegance, panache, and economic status was also found in events meant for charity. Even the peasants could afford one. The higher class people opted for the designer ones. The designers made sure no two people wore the same outfit to the same event. The term ballgown and evening gown are sometimes used interchangeably.
The outfit that was once exclusive to the elite later became common for peasants too. It was no longer a symbol of aristocracy, thanks to the changes brought by the Second World War. However, the dress continues to remain a piece of elegance, grace, and dignity, the only difference being it adorns everyone rather than just the elite.