Train (clothing)

In clothing, a train describes the long back portion of a skirt, overskirt, or dress that trails behind the wearer. It is a common part of a woman's court dress, formal evening gowns or wedding dresses.

In the Roman Catholic Church the cappa magna (literally, "great cape"), a form of mantle, is a voluminous ecclesiastical vestment with a long train. Cardinals, bishops, and certain other honorary prelates are entitled to wear the cappa magna.

Types of train


  • Court train - Worn for formal court occasions, the court train had to fall in with strict dress codes which differed from court to court. For example, the French court code set in 1804 by Jean-Baptiste Isabey prescribed a four-inch maximum width for embroidered train borders for non-Royal wearers.[1]
  • Double train - Two trains attached to the same dress, or a single train divided into two trains.
  • Fishtail train - A train popular at various times from the 1870s onwards, flaring out from midway down a close-fitting skirt.[2]

Wedding dress

Trains in modern (20th and 21st century) bridal wear have their own terminology:

  • Cathedral train - also known as a monarch train, this can measure up to eight feet (2.4 metres). A royal cathedral train is considered the longest, most formal train, measuring up to ten feet (3.0 metres) or more.[3][4]
  • Chapel train - a medium length train up to five feet (1.1 to 1.5 metres) long.[3]
  • Court train - in bridal terminology, a court train is a narrow train extending 1 metre behind.[3]
  • Sweep train - a short train that does not necessarily reach the floor.[3] It is so called because it might just sweep the ground.[4]
  • Watteau train - a modern version of the pleated backs (called 'Watteau pleats') seen in 18th century sack-back gowns.[3]


  1. "Court train (manteau de cour), ca. 1809". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  2. Watt, Judith (2012). Fashion. The definitive history of costume and style (1. publ. ed.). London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 200. ISBN 9781405398794.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Shimer, Elizabeth (2004). The wedding gown book : how to find the gown that perfectly fits your body, personality, style, and budget. Gloucester, Mass.: Quarry Books. p. 44. ISBN 1592530664. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  4. 1 2 Hagen, Shelly (2004). The everything wedding book : the ultimate guide to planning the wedding of your dreams (3rd ed.). Avon, Mass.: Adams Media. p. 117. ISBN 1593371268.
  • Black, J. Anderson and Madge Garland: A History of Fashion, Morrow, 1975. ISBN 0-688-02893-4
  • Payne, Blanche: History of Costume from the Ancient Egyptians to the Twentieth Century, Harper & Row, 1965. No ISBN for this edition; ASIN B0006BMNFS

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