What little girl doesn’t love playing dress up? Whether it’s raiding mum’s wardrobe on the hunt for something wacky to wear with their friends or channelling their favourite characters for world book day, dressing up and experimenting with clothes is a rite-of-passage for all young girls and boys. And no time presents such a great opportunity for dressing up as a party.
At David Charles, we understand the importance of party dresses for little girls. After all, parties are a celebration of the best things in life and for friends and family to get together and have fun — as well as a chance to get dressed up to the nines in dazzling, fabulous, Hollywood-worthy frocks. Whether it’s a low-key summer garden party, a special formal event or a little one’s birthday, there’s nothing quite like finding the perfect party dress for the occasion.
In this post, we take a step back in time and take a look at party dresses and party dress trends through the twentieth century for some vintage fashion inspiration for your little girl’s seasonal party dresses.
Pretty in Pastels: 1900 & 1910s
As the nineteenth century transitioned into the twentieth, so too did children’s fashion. Where in Victorian times, children’s party clothes were essentially a shorter, smaller version of adult fashions, complete with the same restrictive and uncomfortable stylings that adults were forced to endure, by the 1900s fashion specifically for children was beginning to emerge. Clothes were made for kids on the move — with their comfort and lifestyle in mind.
For little girls, it was out with the stifling, difficult-to-breathe dresses and in with a looser and comfier fit. Out too went dark and serious colours and in came a palette of pretty pastel hues such as lemon yellow, candyfloss pink and sky blue.
To get this look, go for soft colours, delicate fabrics and balloon hems. To channel the spirit of the decade, poofy sleeves and luxuriously layered fabrics in varying textures are just the ticket.
Fabulous Flapper Frocks: 1920 & 1930s
The so-called Roaring Twenties was an era that celebrated liberation. After the horrors of the First World War, men, women and children embraced a new kind of freedom and this was reflected in the party dresses worn by little girls in the Twenties. If the 1900-10s stripped away some of the restrictions of Victorian dress, the Roaring Twenties did away with them altogether.
Twenties party dresses were all about simplicity. No more heavy multiple layers — these dresses were designed to be worn as a single garment over underwear to give a more streamlined look. The dresses themselves were shortened, loosened and made from lighter fabrics such as cotton. And although the flapper dress was an “adult” trend, it didn’t stop fashion savvy little ladies from trying out the look. The dropped waist and loose fit of the flapper dress became a fashionable statement for trendy party princesses.
Get the look with a David Charles Twenties inspired party dress, like our ivory shift party dress. Crafted from soft chiffon, this dress captures the essence of the Twenties with its relaxed shift silhouette, drop waist pleated skirt and delicate floral design.
Swinging in Style: 1940s & 1950s
After the rations of the Second World War, the late Forties and Fifties saw a boom in girl’s fashion. Simplicity was out and instead, it was in with voluminous, poofy, cascading dresses. No little girl’s wardrobe was complete without an array of petticoats that were designed to help skirts appear bigger, fuller and more flared.
The dresses themselves also had a makeover. Unlike the minimalist designs of the previous decades, the Forties and Fifties were about opulence and decadence and dresses came with a tight bodice and flared skirt and all the extras — frills, lace and buttons.
Pay homage to Fifties fashion with one of our 1950’s inspired summer frocks. Our ivory pageant ball gown captures the opulence and vibrancy of Fifties style — the lux layering and box pleats, with a bow at the waist, gives this dress the iconic Fifties silhouette.
Magnificent Minis: 1960s & 1970s
The swinging sixties have now become synonymous with youth culture, pop music and revolutionary ideas of freedom, and nowhere were the swinging sensibilities of the time more evident than in the fashion. It was a period that broke all the rules, where boundaries were crossed and a spirit of adventure and experimentation was heralded. Although much of the revolution in clothing was reserved for teens, children’s fashion wasn’t left behind.
Party dresses for girls in the Sixties and into the Seventies moved on from the Fifty’s trends. The full skirts and nipped in waists were switched out in favour of A-line silhouettes and smock styles — and of course, the knee length dress was pushed aside in favour of the mini!
To get the Sixties look, browse our selection of summer shift dresses in bright, bold colours. For the Seventies look, you can’t go wrong with our maxi dresses. With their relaxed, floaty silhouettes, floral designs and feminine flair, your little angel will look every inch the 1970’s diva.
Bold and Beautiful: 1980s & 1990s
Love it or hate it, Eighties fashion was without a doubt bold and daring — all bright colours, huge hair, abundant accessorising and eclectic make-up! Experimenting with new trends and ways of dressing was pushed to new heights.
Young girls party dresses became more opulent, over the top and fanciful — all sparkles, velvet and fabulous flairs! To get that Eighties look, browse our selection of fabulous, sparkling accessories.
The history of the party dress is as rich and varied as the century itself. Take inspiration from some of the finest party dress trends from the past and browse our full collection of party and special occasion dresses.
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