Swing / Trapeze Dress
The tight, wasp waists of the 50’s relaxed and ballooned out when a new designer, Yves Saint Laurent, took over for the house of Dior in 1958. Saint Laurent’s first line consisted of the swingy trapeze dress, a wide and fluid version of the extreme A-line Dior had introduced a few years before. While it would take conservative women a few years to trade in their girdles for the shapeless swing dress, young girls were quick to adopt the geometrically ga-ga gown.
The swing dress was reminiscent of the baby doll dresses of infancy, and much like the baby doll pajamas that were all the rage in nightwear by the mid-60’s. The swing dress was playful and childlike, offering a freedom from all forms of constriction. The swing dress angled out in a wide sweep, falling from the shoulders in a tent-like fashion. The silhouette was like the shape of the trapezoid: small top, angled to a wide bottom.
Little girls had always worn a variation of the loose-fitting dress, but now teens and parents were adopting the shapeless shift. For women who still wanted to flaunt their shape, a two-layer dress became the way to mix both the body-conscious shift with the childlike gaiety of the playful swing dress. A seductive chiffon overlay billowed out and over the slim-fitting sheath, adding a little extra allure and an air of sophistication.
The swing dress remains a favorite maternity fashion, and had a revival in the late 80's when short swing dresses were paired with bike shorts, mixing dressy and sporty in a carefree style.