Haute Historian: Slip Dresses – From Undergarments to Delicate, Simplistic Dresses

September 16, 2013 • Fashion Blog, Haute Historian

History of The Slip Dress

When the slip was introduced in the 1920s, it was meant to be worn under a woman’s apparel as a way to smooth everything out. During World War I, women were discouraged to wear corsets – war rationing meant the metal that would help construct corsets went to the war cause instead. Slip dresses – in a way – replaced corsets.

Changes in beauty and fashion trends during the 20s helped popularize the slip dress. A lean, boy-like frame was favored over the traditional hourglass shape. Women began to favor slip dresses because they created more freedom to move and breathe. Traditionally made with soft, silk fabrics, they were far more comfortable than corsets. Additionally, women’s liberation contributed to the idea of freedom, which then led to the Flapper look – light, boxy dresses that very much resembled slips.

The 1930s brought simple, bias-cut slips. Dress styles were becoming longer again, and slips mimicked that trend. In the 1940s and 1950s, lingerie designers began to define the bust on slips. The bust line was trimmed with lace and a variety of fabric techniques. By the 1960s, slips remained similar in design, aside from being shorter in length to suit mini skirts.

Slips went out of style after the 60s – some women still wore slips if they were more modest or were wearing a light skirt. Designers started lining clothes, creating more comfort and concealment rendering slips useless.

Then designers began to create dresses inspired by slips, otherwise known as slip dresses. In the 1990s, slip dresses became a major trend. Designers from Yves Saint Laurent to Donna Karen created the stripped down, feminine look. They began as shorter, body conscious dresses and quickly morphed into elegant dresses that could be worn as evening wear. One of the most popular looks on 1994 runways was the slip dress worn over a white t-shirt, with an oversized sweater, chunky shoes, and thigh high stockings.

The slip dress was revived in 2011 and, more recently, on fall 2013 runways. In his first collection for Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane renewed the slip dress grunge look. Designers Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs sent lingerie and pajama inspired looks down the runway. From decidedly minimalist looks to the recent grunge revival, slip dresses have certainly made their comeback – as if they ever left the sales floor in the first place.

1. Saint Laurent Fall 2013 Slip Dress
2. Prada Fall 2013 Slip Dress
3. Marc Jacobs Fall 2013 Slip Dress
4. Flapper in slip-inspired dress. Taken in 1920s.
5. 1950s Slip Ad
6. Kate Moss in A Slip Dress, 1990.

– Tanisha Wallis

Image Layout: Laura Burkhardt

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