Sexy, fun and cool, the mini dress has become a fashion staple for many women. It’s great for a casual day out running errands, for a hot date night out, for semi-formal occasions and for lots of other reasons. There are lots of different mini dress styles to choose from and each one can help you capture a specific style. How many have you worn…and how many more will you try after you get a look at this list?
A Brief Mini Dress History
Designer Mary Quant is credited with inventing the mini skirt, the clear precursor to the mini dress, in the 1960s. But did she actually invent the idea of wearing a tiny skirt? Well, no, not really. Fashion history stretches back for thousands and thousands of years and the history of skirts in all lengths is as old as humankind itself.
Archaeologists have uncovered figurines dating to around 5,000 B.C.E. from Europe that shows people wearing miniskirts. Even in the ancient world, it was a global phenomenon. Ancient Egyptians also wore miniskirts, though it was seen more often in men’s fashion at that time.
Getting More Modern
However, hemlines did drop down quickly, becoming longer and longer and mostly staying that way through the Iron Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and through the Victorian Era. That’s a few thousand years of mostly longer skirt styles. That all changed in the Roaring ’20s.
Josephine Baker, famous for her flapper style and daring approach to fashion, wore a miniskirt while performance onstage in 1926. It caused a sensation.
Though they had not yet made it into popular fashion by the 1950s, miniskirts were starting to etch a spot in pop culture. During this decade, very short skirts appeared in science fiction movies.
In 1962, the word “miniskirt” appeared in a Wyoming newspaper. This is believed to be the first use of the word. In the paper, the miniskirt is described as having a hem eight inches above the knee.
Mary Quant came to fame in 1964 for her short skirt design, which she dubbed a “mini.” The look took off. By 1974, the miniskirt had expanded to become the minidress. The minidress immediately became a hot item and today, there are many different mini dress styles. This fashion trend shows no sign of ever slowing down.
Types of Mini Dresses
The mini dress has been a popular look for decades and it’s never gone out of style. Through the years, the dress has only expanded to include more looks and more designs. Which ones will suit you best?
1. Bandage dress
The super-short bandage dress is so named because it literally resembles bandages wrapped tightly around the body. This is not an easy dress to wear but if you’re bold about showing off your curves and want to make an impression, the bandage dress will help you achieve it.
2. Blazer dress
The blazer dress actually does resemble a traditional blazer but is worn as a dress, which can be a super cute look. It is still a mini dress with a short skirt, however, so in spite of the play on sophisticated style, this is certainly not meant for professional wear. It makes for great cocktail party or first date attire, however.
Made to be body-hugging and tight all over, the bodycon mini dress is a great way to show off your various assets. These dresses are made to be stretchy so they follow every curve and line and thankfully, the fabric is a little forgiving so you can actually still move around and walk.
But since the stretchy fabric is super clingy, shapewear is typically in order when donning bodycon dresses. The same way it shows off all those curves, a bodycon minidress will also show off any lumps and bulges you don’t necessarily want to highlight. Shapewear can smooth everything down to emphasize the curves.
4. Mini kimono dress
The kimono dress is inspired by ancient Asian fashions. Like its ancient inspiration, kimono dresses are typically made in silk or satin and they’re made in a robe-like design. Mini kimono dresses end well above the knee to stay true to the mini look. These dresses have the longer, full sleeves and flowing, somewhat loose design of a traditional kimono.
5. Mini qipao dress
Inspired by traditional Chinese fashion, the mini qipao dress maintains the cap sleeve, mock turtleneck bodice that is associated with the qipao dress. This is known as the mandarin collar. Often, qipao dresses have a front zipper or row of buttons. The mini style differs from a standard qipao dress only in the hemline.
6. Mini sundress
Sundresses are typically made in lightweight, somewhat loose designs that are flowing and fun to wear. They’re usually made in soft colors and floral patterns with spaghetti straps, short sleeves or no sleeves to leave the shoulder area bare. Mini sundress designs are highly common, as these dresses provide just enough coverage and fit loosely to keep the body cool. A mini sundress is perfect for summertime day wear and it looks great at the beach or a pool party.
7. Pouf dress
The pouf dress is a mini dress style named for its skirt, which is made with tulle or taffeta fabric in a poofy design. This style is often seen in semi-formal and formal occasion designs. The wide, poofy skirt is highly flattering on all body types, which makes the pouf dress a great go-to for any somewhat dressy event or as a cute cocktail dress option. This design may or may not also have puff sleeves.
Made to look like a classic button-up shirt with a collar, the shirt dress is a cute, casual minidress that looks fun and fashionable. The shirt dress is an easy-to-style mini dress that looks great for running errands or going out with friends. The shirt dress usually has a somewhat loose fit which can be belted to accentuate curves. This style is flattering on most body types.
9. Sweater dress
Sweater dress designs are knit so that they cling to the body. These dresses are made in both short and long sleeve dress styles, though long sleeves designs with high necklines are more common. Sweater dresses are made to look like long sweaters.
This is a very stylish look in fall and winter weather. With the right accessories, a sweater dress can be casual or semi-formal wear. It’s a great look for winter holiday gatherings of all types. Because sweater dress styles cling to the curves, good shapewear helps make this look pop.
10. T-shirt dress
A T-shirt dress, as the name suggests, looks like an oversize T-shirt. This mini dress is made to fit in a loose, A-line design. It can be worn loose or belted to show off the curves. An easy cheat for the T-shirt dress is to simply wear a long T-shirt. This is a great casual look and it’s easy to style with various jackets and accessories.
Can you wear a mini dress everywhere? Is it good for all occasions? Are there things you still need to know? Definitely! Get the answers to the most common minidress questions and never make a styling mistake when you’re wearing this style.
What is mini dress length?
Mini dress length is right at the mid-thigh, right between your hip and your knee. That’s 34 to 35 inches in length, or 86 to 88 centimeters. [Source: SizeChart] This is still a bit longer than the micro mini length, a shorter hemline which is just barely past the hips. Of course, it’s far shorter than the ankle-skimming maxi dress length.
Can you wear a mini dress to a wedding?
While a cute minidress is usually just fine as semi-formal or even formal wear, you want to opt for something with a longer hemline for a wedding. You don’t want to wear anything that’s too revealing, as this might distract from the bride and the wedding party. Midi dress length is about as short you want to go. [Source: Brides.com] A mini dress is great as a party dress but not necessarily at every party.
What accessories work well with mini dresses?
Mini dresses are meant to show off your assets, so you don’t need to accessorize them too heavily, A thin necklace and delicate earrings, maybe studs or hoops, should be enough. Add a thin bracelet or watch accessory if you like. When you have on a mini dress, it’s definitely all about the dress. You should also stick to small handbags, such as a classic clutch. To look taller, wear shoes that leave your ankles exposed, such as high heels or ballet flats. This elongates the legs. And in a mini dress, you want to highlight your legs. [Source: WikiHow] Sneakers or ankle boot styles may be more comfortable, but they will make the legs look shorter. In cooler weather, you might want to accessorize with a pair of tights to keep legs warm.
If you want a look that’s a touch more businesslike and a little less exposed, top off your mini dress with a blazer. If you’re going for a casual look, a cropped jacket will look great. Create an edgier vibe with a leather jacket or a denim jacket. If you don’t want a heavy layer but you want to add a little something, slip into a button-up shirt, leave it unbuttoned and tie it around your waist.
What is the most popular type of dress?
According to Google search results, the most popular types of dresses include T-shirt dresses and little black dress styles, which are both usually mini dress styles. [Source: WhoWhatWear]
The most flattering types of dresses include belted styles and fit and flare styles. [Source: Good Housekeeping] The wrap dress is highly flattering on curvy women.
At what age should you stop wearing short dresses?
Can you get to be too old to wear a short dress? According to a study cited by the BBC, women in England buy miniskirts up to about age 40. But in the world of fashion, anything goes. It’s always okay to experiment with your own personal style at any age. And as the saying goes, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! [Source: BBC]
Can you wear a mini dress to a black-tie event?
As long as you wear something that looks very formal, the hemline of your skirt isn’t really such a big deal. It’s a common misbelief that black-tie events mean you should wear a full0length gown but this is not the case. You can get away with shorter dress styles, all the way up to mini length. However, it can be hard to get away with a minidress and still look elegant at a posh black-tie event. [Source: Elle]
- Stylecaster – A History of the Miniskirt: How Fashion’s Most Daring Hemline Came To Be
- Top.Trends.Guide – 40 Different Types of Dresses For Women