Updated February 2017 Anyone who’s been even slightly exposed to the world of competitive Irish dance knows how important feis fashion is–especially the solo dress styles. From really fancy to simple and traditional, each dress is unique and beloved to the dancer who wears it. Just like runway fashion, Irish dance dresses are constantly evolving in style.
Take a look at feis fashions through the decades, as told by what Etsy sellers have to offer in the way of vintage Irish dance dresses. All the dresses in the photo are for sale as of February 2017–just click the photo to go to the seller’s page.
Mid-century Irish Dance fashion
This is being sold on Etsy as a 50s-era child’s Irish dance dress. I’m not totally sure if it’s really from the 50s, but if it is we can say that it was a simple style with generally “Irish” motifs.
60s Irish Dance Dress Styles
Very traditional embroidery motifs and a sleeveless design. It almost looks like you could wear it as an every day dress, don’t you think? I definitely would. Here’s another (more recent style) solo dress someone is wearing as street clothes!
1980s Irish dance costumes
The 80s and 90s were full of lace collars, full skirts and traditional knotwork. And the fabric: velvet. As anyone who remembers dancing in a velvet dress will tell you, this was hot and sweaty.
2000s Irish dance style
This was a decade when the traditional styles of knotwork were replaced with a stylized, geometric pattern. Glitterball fabric was huge, and colors like hazard cone orange became popular. Waists were still high and three panel skirts were the thing.
Current Irish dance dress trends and styles
Irish dance costumes had a resurgence of traditional motifs and knotwork since 2010, followed by a trend of extreme intricacy of embroidery that’s still seen today. Waists dropped, skirts softened, and mandarin collars became popular. Lace has seen a resurgence, but it’s used in different ways than the traditional crochet collar of the 1980s. Hairstyles have changed too over the years but that’s an entirely different post! The biggest change since the 2000s is Swarovski crystals! Hundreds of dollars of crystals can cover a single solo dress (and shoe buckles). Here’s an example of a more modern dress style. I took this pic at a feis, on the used sale dress rack so it’s not the most current style but still a good representation of recent trends: