An empire waist is a style in women’s clothing where the waistline is raised above the natural waist, usually just below the bust. This silhouette features a fitted bodice ending just below the bust, giving a high-waisted appearance, and a gathered skirt which is long and loosely fitting but skims the body rather than being supported by voluminous petticoats. The style dates back to the 18th century and is especially associated with the Neoclassical fashion of the late 1700s to early 1800s, drawing inspiration from the classical dress of ancient Greece and Rome.
The empire waistline is known for its ability to elongate the appearance of the legs and emphasize the bust, making it a flattering choice for many body types. It can create the illusion of height and is often chosen for formal dresses, wedding gowns, and maternity wear due to its comfort and elegance.
The empire silhouette is a versatile style that can be adapted to casual, business, or formal attire. It’s often used in flowing, lightweight fabrics such as chiffon or silk to enhance the soft, ethereal quality of the garment. The empire waist remains a popular and enduring element in fashion design, celebrated for its timeless elegance and flattering shape.