Names of Different Types of Western Dresses

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Names of Different Types of Western Dresses
Contemporary women's dresses are inspired by everything from Native American to Colonial Indian culture. (Sexy woman in an Indian costume image by studio vision 1 from Fotolia.com)

While "Western" apparel has traditionally been thought of as cowboy-styled, fashion from North America has influenced apparel styling worldwide. By the beginning of the 21st century, "Western" as it relates to fashion meant American West as well as fashion inspired by Western culture and American culture. Contemporary women's dresses incorporate styles from the Wild Wild West to Bollywood.

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Western Yoke Dress

This dress is typical of what Laura Ingalls wore as a girl and young woman, as recorded in the "Little House on the Prairie" books and television show. It is characterised by a square or rounded yoke over the shoulders, blouson top and full skirt. Typically it was made of floral cotton and had lace or other trim on the collar, cuffs and bottom of the full skirt. Another version of this dress is the Cherokee tear dress, which is still worn by women of the Cherokee nation for weddings and other events.

Prairie Dress

Prairie dresses come with and without sleeves. In the movie "Witness," with Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis, McGillis wore the sleeveless prairie dress smock over a sleeved garment favoured by the Amish. The Amish prefer the unembellished styling of a pullover smock, but some prairie dresses have ruffled panels at the hemlines, full sleeves and even a bit of trim adornment.

Native American Indian Dress

This catchall designation refers to the fringed and beaded leather apparel made famous in Western movies and worn by icons such as Sacagawea. In modern fashion, the styling of these dresses is often repeated in dressy jackets and casual skirts. They are also a staple of costume stores for themed parties and Halloween.

Indo-western Salwar Kameez

This style of dress is favoured by the modern Indian woman worldwide; it combines the traditional styling of the sari with the Western shift dress. Salwar Kameez dresses are worn with matching pegged trousers or leggings and tend to be made of silk and other high-end fabrics, dyed in rich colours, almost always form-fitting and sleeveless, and ornately decorated for evening wear and special occasions. These dresses are iconic of Bollywood, which has fostered the influence of Western-styled fashion in India.

Indo-western Kurtis

Although Kurtis came in a variety of styles, by definition they are characterised by a flowing smock top designed to be worn with narrow trousers. They are a young, fresh, Western-influenced and Bollywood-styled twist on the traditional Indian tunic and are often ornately beaded and made of sheer but vibrantly dyed fabric. In the United States in the 1960s, the Bohemian smock top and dress were very popular and usually made from fabrics from India. This fashion styling has created something of a circular reference in that Indian fabric inspired this smock style, and Western styling inspired India's more casual dresses and smock tops.

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