This collection of vintage evening gowns is so over-the-top, you don’t have to even like fashion to appreciate the oomph factor of these formal dresses. Their timeless charm shines brightly, whether you adore couture fashion, love all things vintage, are looking for dress ideas prom or a wedding, a Disney Princess fan… or just like pretty things.
You can find out the story at the end of the page, but first, celebrate the gorgeous glory of these floor-length vintage evening gowns, each one with a skirt so full and puffy that any one of the Disney princesses — you know, screen stars like Aurora, Tiana, Cinderella, Belle and Ariel — would be seriously angling for one of these beauties just to mix up their wardrobes a bit. (Cinderella’s been wearing that same blue gown since 1950. It’s time, girl.)
1. Vintage purple long evening gown from 1953
A very full lilac tulle skirt embellished with a silvery pattern, paired with draped lavender satin
2. Elegantly classic vintage white ball gown-style evening gown from 1960
3 breathtakingly gorgeous strapless evening gowns from 1953
Ivory, lilac and goldenrod creations with lush, full skirts and elegant — of lace, tulle, silk and satin
Elegant evening dress with full skirt in white and purple from the 50s
Here’s the scoop about these vintage evening gowns
When you were looking at the evening gown above, what you were actually looking at were ads created to sell maxi pads. Yep. Specifically Modess.
The ads as they appeared in magazines had about a one-inch white space at the bottom that said coyly, “Modess… because.” Sales copy was limited to just a few words that defined some of the brand qualities, but without revealing to onlookers that the woman reading the magazine might actually — gasp — sometimes have a period.
“If you didn’t know what the MODESS… Because ads were advertising, they could be high fashion ads for designer clothing – and that was entirely the point,” writes Margaret Gurowitz, Chief Historian for Johnson & Johnson. “Women could imagine themselves in those beautiful and sophisticated dresses from Charles James and other leading designers, posed in beautiful settings. The two words in the ads allowed them to supply their own reasons for buying the product.”
Because of the ads’ connotations to beauty, luxury, grace and elegance, “they elevated something previously viewed as an unmentionable necessity that no one wanted to think about into something aspirational.”
Fashion designer Charles James created some of the “sumptuous baroque gowns in an advertising campaign, photographed by Beaton, for Modess sanitary napkins,” writes Judith Thurman in The New Yorker. “The idea was ‘that any woman at a difficult moment can imagine herself a Duchess,’ although, at a difficult moment, you could never have squeezed a James gown into the stall of a ladies’ room.”