Modest; The Evolution of the Dress

By Alicia Phanwar

The world of fashion has seen many trends come and go but the dress has remained a constant and will continue to do so for the years to come. Literally, from the bustle and corset to the drop waist, it has seen every shape possible explored. Across cultures, it is the cornerstone of women’s clothing.

The 1700s marked an era of extremely tight and possibly suffocating corset dresses that were meant to exhibit sexuality while maintaining the woman’s modesty perfectly. However, in the 1830s, the styles developed into over-sized silhouettes and puffy sleeves and by the mid-19th century, dress frames were being made of whalebone or steel wire which were called crinolines under their skirts.

It wasn’t until the start of the ’20s that dresses were given a much different look. Dropped waistlines, short hems, and loose fits perfect for dancing in became the norm during the time. This is primarily because it was the time women first truly came out of the corset.

An iconic moment for dresses must be when, in 1947, Christian Dior introduced the New Look, which embraced long dresses with narrow waists, accentuating a women’s ‘hour glass’ figure. Throughout the next decade dresses remained feminine and the silhouettes full. It wasn’t until 1965 when Mary Quant invented the mini skirt and dresses, along with all other types of women’s clothing, became more relaxed and informal.


The book, Fabulous Frocks: A Celebration of Dress Design, by Jane Eastoe and Sarah Gristwood, is an ode to fashion and the iconic nature of the dress. From Coco Chanel’s Little Black Dress that became a classic to women to Alexander McQueen’s unique style and design – the book is a compilation of those fashion moments from the 20th century to today. It is the exploration of the dress in many forms in a century of fashion.

The book provides glimpses of the dress’ evolution from Dior’s New Look to Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, it is the fashionista’s must-have. Arranged into thematic chapters, the book is also illustrated with beautiful fashion photography to satiate our visual needs.

The book will release on September 5 2019 and is available on



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