Let's talk classic style for a moment. While there are tons of new and exciting ideas that designers present every season, there are a few classic dresses that never fail to impress. In fact, we believe there are seven. Beyond simply pointing out which dress styles have stood the test of time, though, we're proving it to you by highlighting what the silhouette looked like nearly a half-century ago compared with today. From Marilyn Monroe and Bianca Jagger to Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o, the following women throughout history were all fans of these seven styles.
So consider this your mini fashion history lesson for the day. While fabrics, embellishments, prints, and proportions change all the time, these silhouettes ahead will forever be a mainstay of many new fashion collections to come. Keep reading to discover which classic dress styles you should keep as closet mainstays, and be sure to shop your favorites, too.
The Halter Dress
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On Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: Gucci dress
This back-baring frock gained popularity in the '40s and '50s (Marilyn Monroe, we're looking at you), and underwent a disco-drenched revival in the early '70s thanks to style icons like Jerry Hall and Bianca Jagger. If you've got a glam, floor-length halter dress, hold onto it.
The A-Line Dress
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On Rachel Bilson: Chanel dress
This flattering dress dates back to 1955 when Paris couturier Christian Dior introduced his "new look." Resembling the letter A, this feminine style usually has narrow shoulders and flares from the waist out to the hem of the skirt. In other words, this dress looks good on everyone; it’s not going anywhere.
The Shift Dress
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On Chloë Grace Moretz: Christopher Kane dress
This style makes us think of our favorite '60s muses like Jean Shrimpton. Luckily the shift dress is still incredibly relevant on and off the red carpet.
Available in sizes S to L.
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On Cate Blanchett: Michael Kors dress
When we think of the shirtdress, our minds wander to Brigitte Bardot in the 1956 film And God Created Woman wearing a sultry shirtdress cinched at the waist. A Bardot-approved dress? Say no more.
The Slip Dress
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On Rihanna: Calvin Klein Collection dress
Naturally '20s movie star Jean Harlow made us fall in love with this bias-cut slinky number. And much to our delight, it seems as though each generation has found a place for it, including Kate Moss in the '90s all the way to present-day Rihanna.
The Evening Gown
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On Diane Kruger: Prabal Gurung dress
When we say "evening gown," we tend to think of the bouffant ball gowns concocted by American couturier Charles James. If you're lucky enough to attend soirées requiring such a dress, we suggest you choose a structured gown reminiscent of James's designs.
The Wrap Dress
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On Lupita Nyong'o: Prabal Gurung dress
From ancient kimonos to Diane von Furstenberg's '70s revival, it's safe to say the wrap dress is worth investing in. Not only is it insanely figure-flattering, but it’s perfect for work and play.
This story was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.