Modest Prom Dress Inspiration: Formals throughout the Ages

Oftentimes in the course of designing a custom, modest prom dress, a client will come to us with vintage inspiration. We love working off of vintage styles, so for those of you still designing the modest prom dress or formal of your dreams, we thought we’d bring you this decade by decade guide of vintage formal inspiration!


1910 Edwardian Dinner Dress

In the early 20th century, Edwardian style reigned. With its soft lines and nature motifs, Edwardian gowns are as romantic as they are timeless.



1920's Beaded Flapper Evening Gown

The 1920’s saw hemlines come up, silhouettes become more sheathlike and overall styles become less romantic. This decade was as much about decadence and flappers as it was transformative of the evening “gown.”



1930's Beaded Sequined Chanel Evening Gown

Though the 1930’s were a time of poverty for many, fashion nevertheless marched on. This 1932 Chanel evening gown shows fashion reclaiming much of the feminine silhouette that had been lost in the “Roaring 20s,” even as necklines plunged.



1940's Evening Dresses

During the first half of the ’40s, wartime rationing largely dictated women’s fashion, from coveralls to wedding gowns. While glamorous additions like sequins weren’t rationed, textiles like silk were, making synthetics like taffeta and crepe more popular.



1950's Strapless Robin's Egg Blue Evening Gown

With World War II in the rear view mirror, the 1950’s were a time of peace and prosperity in America. For the first time strapless dresses became quite popular and cheerful colors, especially primary colors and pastels, took center stage.



1962 Christian Dior Pink Evening Gown Jackie O

During the 1960’s, American underwent large sociological changes, so it’s no surprise that hemlines continued to rise, necklines lower and silhouettes grew softer and less structured. Though the embodiment of the establishment, First Lady Jackie Kennedy quickly became the style icon of the decade.



1970's Prairie Evening Dresses

The “Groovy ’70s” continued to see society shift, although in this decade the maxi dress – and the prairie dress – ruled.



1980's Evening Gowns

Like the 1920’s the ’80s were also a time of excess, although this decade saw the rise of metallics, puffed sleeves, bows and overall “poof.”



Victor Edelstein 1990 Princess Di Red Gown

Although the decade was one of padded shoulders and power suits, style icons, like Princess Di, showed that the ’90s could have their graces too.



2000's Two Piece Prom Dresses

From two-piece prom dresses, to the rise of the “spaghetti strap” and inexplicably small handbags, the birth of the new millennium saw the rise of a unique and new fashion sensibility.



Katniss Red Modest Prom Dress with Sleeves and Gathered Skirt

The second decade of the new millennium saw a rise in diversity as well as modesty, and strong heroines, like Katniss Everdeen, reigned supreme.


Are you inspired by any of the gorgeous gowns in this post? Drop us a line at to get started on the dress of your dreams today!