Black Tie Shopping? These Ball Gowns Are The Perfect Statement Fit

By Charlie Colville

2 months ago

A busy social calendar requires an even busier wardrobe

Awards season might be over, but that only means social season is about to well and truly kick off. Big plans coming up? If it’s a formal occasion – where glamour and opulence rule the dress code – you’re navigating, then you might want to wear a ball gown. This is our edit of the very best.

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What Is A Ball Gown?

Characterised by its long, bouffant skirt, low neckline and exposed arms, a ball gown is a type of evening dress that can be worn to formal occasions. It’s a more luxurious style of dress, with gowns typically made from fabrics like satin, silk, taffeta or velvet and decorated in lace, pearls, embroidery or sequins, and is designed to make a statement – hence the ornateness of the whole thing.

The ball gown dates back to the early 19th century, during the Regency era, when there was a fashion amongst upper classes for evening dresses with high waists, short sleeves and a relatively small skirt in the Empire silhouette.


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Fast forward to the Victorian era, and the ball gown silhouette had evolved to feature wider, more voluminous skirts (built out with petticoats and crinolines) with trains and bustles at the back. By the end of the century, however, the dress was once again simplified; the popular style of the time featured a simple, bell-shaped skirt without the bustle.

And then we come to the more familiar version, made popular in the 1940s and 50s by stars like Grace Kelly. These dresses were all about classic silhouettes that could stand the test of time – with many of today’s ball gowns taking their creative cues from these designs.

Where Should You Wear One?

While historically they were worn to literal balls (hence the name), ball gowns today can be worn to multiple formal occasions – from weddings and proms to galas and red carpet events.

The Edit: Show-Stopping Ball Gowns

Woman in orange dress

Featured image: Pawel Szvmanski, Unsplash