Mini-History of the Maxi-Dress

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(Attendee at the San Francisco Jazz Fest on July 4th Weekend) and (Grace Kelley loving the Maxi in 1970)

Just a quick post for today, as I’m short on time. While out at the San Francisco Jazz Festival this weekend I saw a number of people in the new summer hit, the Maxi-Dress. The press (nation-wide) is agog over the new Maxi-Dresses:

The maxi might just have a long shelf life” in the Boston Herald

Take a Long Look” in The Washington Post

Summer Dress Essentials” in the Chicago Sun-Times

One of the earliest appearances of the “Maxi-Dress” was in 1968. The New York Times highlighted a cotton lace version by Osca de La Renta that he created for Elizabeth Arden Salon. More notable designers such as YSL, Dior, Cardin, Biba, Halston and others would latch on to the style as well.

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(from the 1968 Elizabeth Arden fashion show)

Maxi-length skirts had begun to outdo the mini skirt in 1967, and the dress (as well as the maxi-coat) soon followed. Maxi styles quickly grabbed hold in London. Doctor Zhivago (1965) is often credited with igniting the craze for Maxi style (along with the tandem trend for “Midi” style skirts) due to its use of large flared coats over suit trousers. Initially, Maxi-dresses appeared lacey and slightly shorter than ankle length (while today’s versions seem to be mostly cotton jersey and down to the heel).

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(Bond Street Fashion Market, London in 1968)

However, it was not until the 1970s that the Maxi-dress lodged itself firmly in the American mind (in all its polyester splendor), along with similar caftan and boho styles. By the late 1970s, it had become associated with the unfashionable and out of date (such as Mrs. Roper on Three’s Company).

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(Maxi Dress Pattern 1972)

On a related note. If you’re in the area, you might check out “Polyester fashions of the ’70s at Holland Museum” in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Until Next Time,

Heather

www.fashionhistorian.net

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    Were they always called a maxi dress?

     
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