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The Evolution Of The Wedding Dress: A Look At The Last 100 Years

The obsession with wedding dresses is nothing new among women who are fascinated by these stunning gowns, worn at once-in a lifetime occasions. Whether we love to see our favourite celebrities in a wedding dress, a family member of friend- or if we have worn one ourselves, this dress is one that beats them all in terms of its sheer importance in our lives. Over the past 100 years, wedding dresses have changed drastically, and everything from silhouette, colour, length and fabric has changed as time has moved forward. Bu what were older wedding dresses like?

In this article we’ll look at the lifespan journey of the vintage wedding dress and examine how they appeared, starting from the 1900’s and going up 90’s.

 1900’s- In the 1990’s wedding dresses sported an S shaped corset and were mainly worn to draw in the stomach in a waist cinching style which was flattering. Frills were also commonplace with these wedding dresses and were often found on the bodice to accentuate the overall look. Wedding dresses had wide puffy sleeves, high necklines, gloves and even veiled hats, so this was a decidedly demure look!

This look was popular thanks to Queen Victoria, who popularized the look and birthed the ‘white wedding’ concept, when she wore a beautiful snow white wedding dress on her wedding day to Prince Albert.

1930’s- By the 1930’s wedding dresses weren’t as glamourous as their counterparts in the 1990’s. Due to the economic hardship that had gripped the country during that time, women just had to grab whatever they could get their hands on- essentially, finding the nicest dress in their closets, to wear. Wedding dresses were generally floral and fell to calf length with waistlines becoming more prominent, with the new dress style. Women also wore hats instead of veils (perhaps they couldn’t afford them!) and more affordable dress material was used- rayon, instead of the traditional but pricier silk that was used.

The infamous era meant that money was very tight and hard to come by. Many brides who had bought a wedding dress made sure it was able to be dyed so it could be worn again because there were no funds to obtain a new one.

 1940’s – In the 1940’s wedding dresses were very modest and consisted of white or ivory gowns with satin or lace sleeves. They had long veils and the skirts were either A line or the fuller ball gown styles.

40s-dress-hearts-and-roses

 1950’s-  In the 50’s, wedding dresses mainly consisted of tea dresses, swing dresses, elegant lace sleeve dresses and tulle ball gowns. The look was incredibly beautiful, and is still worn today as its retro inspired. The dresses would be white or ivory just like in the 1940’s and the waist cinching was another popular feature which remains today.

50s-cream-floral-dress

1960’s- In the 1960’s wedding dresses changed again, this time moving the waistlines higher and donning empire line silhouettes. By this time necklines were still demure and veils were shorter in length than they previously were. Embellishments were popular additions to wedding dresses and metallic details, daises and other details were often used. The 1960’s saw the start of the ‘space age’ which was all about metallic embellishments and reflective decorations. This was also a time when there were a large number of ‘society’ weddings such as Princess Margret’s wedding to Anthony Armstrong Jones. During this pivotal period there was huge amount of social change, with the rise of many groups such as hippies and rockers, and this greatly influenced the fashion scene. 

1990’s- By this time fashion was much more modernised and wedding dresses took on a more minimalist feel. Embellishments were no longer used anymore- so no more beads, lace and other decorations. If they were used it was sparingly. In its place flower crowns, and simple straightforward veils were used and were the only additions to wedding dresses. In terms of fit and shape, the 1990’s wedding dress silhouette was much more fitted and figure hugging. The 1990’s era was all about combining glamour with classic Americana styles. At this time romantic couples began to have their weddings abroad in warmer countries and so their dresses reflected this, being more free flowing and loose.

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