Buying a Smocked Bishop Dress - How to Find Your Style!

Buying a Smocked Bishop Dress - How to Find Your Style!

Posted by Feltman Brothers on 11th Jun 2023

Smocked Bishop Dress

You don’t often see smocking in modern, mass-produced clothing, which is part of what makes the style so special in vintage and heirloom pieces. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, smocking refers to a specific way of gathering the fabric of a handmade outfit and creating a series of pleats. These pleats are often decorated with flowers or similar designs, providing aesthetic appeal and variety to different outfits, including bishop dresses.

But if you’ve never seen a child’s bishop dress or considered buying one for your own children, you probably have one or two lingering questions. For example, how is smocking used to make bishop dresses? What do bishop dresses look like? How long should they be? And finally, where can you acquire handmade smocked bishop dresses for your little ones?

In today’s guide, we will answer all of these questions and more, so let’s get started!

What Is A Bishop Dress?

A bishop dress is any dress that has smocking at the neckline. While bishop dresses can theoretically be worn at any age, they are almost exclusively designed for baby girls and toddlers. Since these dresses are made with young children in mind, the design works well for girls who like extra wiggle room. The bishop dress typically fits snugly across the neck and the inside of the shoulders, but hangs loose around the torso and legs. This way, girls can run around, play, or even take a quick nap without feeling uncomfortable or overheated by their clothing.

The Timeless Style Of Smocked Bishop Dresses

Smocked Bishop Dress

The practice of smocking dates back more than seven centuries, making it one of the oldest embroidery techniques still in use today. In the early days of its existence, smocking was often reserved for farmworkers and other laborers in rural England. As the practice spread throughout Europe, it became a popular choice of clothing among other socioeconomic classes. However, as handmade clothing became increasingly expensive, smocked bishop dresses became a popular choice for the children of wealthy families, particularly during special events like baptisms.

So what has helped the smocked bishop dress endure the test of time? Part of the appeal is thanks to upper-class European families of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, who kept the tradition of dressing young girls (and sometimes boys) in these dresses for special events. For years, the outfit was synonymous with wealth and privilege. Having a child who could wear a smocked bishop dress signaled to others that you were a person of means. This was because the practice of creating smocked bishop dresses was extremely long and arduous. People without substantial wealth often could not afford the materials and labor involved. Thankfully, the introduction of more affordable fabrics and materials in the 1800s helped revolutionize and democratize fashion. Henceforth, people of all classes could access high-quality smocked clothing at more affordable prices.

Today, smocked bishop dresses are not as much of an ostentatious status symbol, but they are a classic throwback to the styles of past generations. The “vintage” bishop dress makes for a great heirloom item that can be passed down to your children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. And, since smocked dresses are still made by hand, they often hold much more importance than mass-produced baby clothes. Each piece is completely unique and timeless, allowing you to dress your child in clothing that is truly one of a kind.

How Long Should A Bishop Dress Be?

Smocked Bishop Dress

There’s no precise answer for how long a bishop dress should be. Some designs are specifically meant to be ankle-length. In fact, this is a common practice that has been around since the earliest days of the smocked bishop dress. However, if you’re shopping for a smocked dress for your baby girl, the length you should acquire will depend on her age and height.

For example, one of the benefits of a smocked dress is that it is loose fitting. This means that, as your child ages and grows taller, the dress will continue to fit, often for up to a year (or longer) from the date of purchase. For this reason, smocked outfits for newborns and small toddlers are often designed to go all the way to the ankles. Ankle-length bishop dresses ensure that fast-growing babies will be able to wear their dresses for as long as possible.

Alternatively, if you’re buying a bishop dress for toddlers up to 4 years old, you may choose the length of the dress based on your personal preferences. It’s still a good idea to size up a little, especially if you’d like the dress to fit for longer, but you may choose to have the dress cut off somewhere around the middle of the shin. This can be more comfortable for older toddlers who may want to be more mobile and less encumbered by the fabric.

Feltman Brothers Smocked Bishop Dresses

At Feltman Brothers, we offer a wide range of beautiful, handmade bishop dresses with gorgeous smocking. Our attention to detail is unrivaled, which is why every smocked bishop dress makes for a perfect photoshoot outfit that can be kept in the family for years to come. In the sections below, we’ll take a closer look at some of our most popular designs for babies and toddlers of different sizes:

Baby Bishop Dresses

f you’re looking for a bishop dress for your newborn or baby up to 24 months old, we have lots of wonderful items to choose from. Here are some of the most popular bishop dresses in our collection:

  • Short Sleeve Holiday Bishop Dress - The Feltman Brother’s Short Sleeve Holiday Bishop Dress is one of the most popular items we make — and for good reason. It features an ornate neckline of green and red, complemented by adorable puffed sleeves. It is a classic that is a perfect choice for the holiday season!
  • Navy Bishop Dress - Are you looking for a darker color that will really stand out? Most dresses for newborns and babies feature white or pastel colors, but not the Navy Bishop Dress. The striking navy blue body combined with the colorful embroidery make for a truly unique bishop dress!
  • Pearl Flower Bishop Dress - Our Pearl Flower Bishop Dress comes in either white or pink, with both options featuring floral bullions adorned with pearls. It’s the perfect dress for just about any special occasion!

Toddler Bishop Dresses

And if you want to find stylish bishop dresses for toddlers up to 4 years old, you’re in luck! Our collection features various designs and colors, including:

  • Rosette Bishop Dress - Our Rosette Bishop Dress features a highly-detailed smocked neckline, with the option to choose either blue or pink coloration. Either way, this little dress is great for holidays, family get-togethers, and photoshoots!
  • Girls Ruffle Sleeve Bishop Smocked Dress - This dress varies from many other bishop dresses because it features smocked ruffle cuffs and soft feathered embroidery. It’s a classic design that you will want to keep in the family for years!
  • Short Sleeve Holiday Pearl Flower Bishop Dress - Lastly, our Short Sleeve Holiday Pearl Flower Bishop Dress has it all: gorgeous red and green smocking with a matching hem, embroidered sleeves, and a wonderful scalloped design!

Do you want to find high-quality smocked bishop dresses for your little one? If so, be sure to check out the beautiful items available at Feltman Brothers today!