The Evolution Of Dress Tightness Through The Ages

by Ashley Berg

Dresses are the epitome of traditional feminine style. They're classic, easy to wear, and have been around for a really long time. Today, you're able to choose between pretty much any style of dress you want, but it wasn't always that way. Like most other styles of clothing, they have changed a lot throughout the ages, and the tightness of dresses has evolved considerably over time.

Each decade has gone through distinct style changes that have influenced the way we dress today. From the full midi-length skirt of the '50s to the super short bodycon styles of the early '00s, the possibilities are limitless. And thanks to vintage fashion coming back in style, you really can opt for basically any look you want (OK, maybe I'd skip the hoop skirt on your way to the office). Although you may assume that dresses have gotten progressively tighter over time, dress tightness has actually fluctuated with each decade — think of the silky dresses of the '30s compared to the boxy silhouettes of the '60s.

If you're curious to see how dress trends have changed over the last couple years in regards to fit, check out the following list. You may learn a thing or two about where your favorite style originated!

1. 1700s

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Marie Antoinette donned super tight corset tops paired with absurdly large skirts. The pannier or side hoops in the skirt allowed for crazy width, according to The History of Costume, while the front and back were pretty much flat.

2. 1800s

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After the French revolution, dresses got much simpler and slimmer. Gone were the intricate details of the past. Instead, Josephine Bonaparte introduced "the empire" waistline, according to Fashion-Era.

3. 1840s

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With the middle of the 19th Century came fuller skirts and the reintroduction of the corset.

4. 1880s

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The Victorian Era featured tight fitting dresses with plenty of frills and pleats.

5. 1900s

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The turn of the century brought high necklines, tight waists, and slim skirts.

6. 1920s

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The start of the '20s brought a much different look. Dresses featured dropped waistlines, short hems, and loose fits perfect for dancing in.

7. 1930s

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The slinky dresses of the '30s exuded Old Hollywood glamour. The cuts hugged women's curves without being too too tight.

8. 1940s

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Dresses during the war became much more simple and fitted, but they were neither tight nor loose during this time.

9. 1950s

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After the war, dresses began to feature tiny waists and full skirts ending in the middle of the calf. Think of this as the inspiration for today's midi skirts!

10. 1960s

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The '60s brought a whole new style into the world — mod. These boxy mini dresses were the fashion staples of the time.

11. 1970s

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Diane Von Furstenburg's wrap dress became super popular during the '70s. It was the perfect feminine silhouette for both work and play.

12. 1980s

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In the '80s women embraced a powerful look by way of shoulder pads and straight skirts.

13. 1990s

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One of the most popular looks of this decade the slip dress. These super silky dresses tended to be slim fitting but not skin tight.

14. 2000s

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Women were definitely into showing off their curves in the 2000s. This super short Christina Aguilera number proves it.

15. 2010s

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Finally, this Kim Kardashian dress couldn't get much tighter. However, it's definitely not the only popular dress style today. Some dresses I own could be described as "sack," while others are basically akin to a second skin. Needless to say, almost all the styles of the past are popular styles right now, which means you don't need to choose between boxy or body con.

Images: Getty (15)