Robe de Style

AKA: The Anti-Flapper Dress, picture dress, basque dress

How to say it: rohb de steel

Traditional Features: 

Robe de Style

  • fitted or straight cut bodice
  • full skirt, often long
  • often highly decorated
  • in-built panniers or petticoats to create fullness on the hip
  • often with a dropped waist

21st Century Robe de Style dresses

The Robe de Style does not really exist in the 21st century, but the effects that the style had on fashion have by no means gone by the wayside. The ‘tight at the top and big on the bottom’ silhouette is alive and well in the modern marketplace and dresses from casual to bridal wear utilise the easy to wear silhouette on a regular basis.

Alice & Olivia Carolina Herrera

Alice & Olivia, Carolina Herrera

Kay Unger Red Valentino


…of the style: The Robe de Style, or the Anti-Flapper dress was poplar in the 1920s as an alternative to the short, boxy Flapper style that was so prevalent during that decade. Unlike the Flapper dress, the robe de style was generally fitted (or straight cut) through the bodice and flared out into a long, full skirt that dropped from the waist or mid-hip. These skirts were often so full that they required petticoats or panniers underneath and were clearly inspired by women’s fashions of the 17th and 18th centuries.

It was designer Jeanne Lanvin who took the older styles and updated them, creating a style that was suitable for most figures and appealed to young girls, who weren’t old enough for the Flapper culture, as well as older women, who preferred the forgiving nature of the longer, fuller skirt. It was easy to move in and behaved wonderfully on the dance floor, allowing the wearer to be flirty and fashionable without being too revealing or casual.

As the decade progressed, the robe de style began to appear in the realm of casual wear as the skirts reduced in size, no longer requiring padding but utilising layers, pleats and ruffles to add fullness to the hips without sacrificing the wearability of the garment.

The full-skirted dress style seemed to be on trend until the mid to late 20s until the slimmer silhouettes took hold and shaped women’s fashion into the 30s. The robe de style never really came back to the forefront of fashion after that, however the tight bodice/full skirt silhouette lives on into the 21st century, in the guise of princess wedding gowns, skater dresses and other voluptuous styles on the modern marketplace.

…of the name: I couldn’t find any reason for the name robe de style, but the French term roughly translates to “fashionable dress”.

Random Facts

  • Lanvin only began making the Robe de Style after people began asking her to recreate the dresses she was making for her daughter.

For more info on Robe de Style dresses try Vintage Dancer, FIDM or check out these Pinterest pages for some images from the 1920s here and here

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