Like it or not, planning a wedding can quite quickly turn into a minefield of decisions and second-guessing indecision. Indeed, unless they have a dream style in mind for which they’ve long harboured, brides-to-be challenged with choosing the right wedding dress can find it hard work – there’s so much choice out there. But here’s an idea – why not go vintage on your big day? Why not look to wedding-dress design of decades past for your dressing dress of today…?
Lest we forget, for the first half of this decade, war raged throughout the world; thus, materials – most pertinently here, fabrics – were scarce. This affected clothing in general, of course, but what it meant for the wedding dresses of the time were a more practical look. It was all minimal accents; less lace and sequined embroidery. Like women’s suits and other dresses of the time, broad-ish shoulders and clinched waists were the order of the day – was this ‘masculine’ look down to women, while their fiancés were away fighting, taking on more manual labour-based jobs and, thus, becoming more assertive? Perhaps. This sort of look came back in the ’80s – a time when women once more rivalled men in traditionally masculine workplaces. Don’t go away with the idea there was a lack of elegance to 1940s’ wedding dresses, though – after all, have you seen pics of The Queen in glorious garb on her big day? She was married in 1947.
Compared to the ’40s, matrimonial wear in the ’50s was all about glamour. Fabulously feminine, flattering designs in ivory were very much en vogue – you must have seen the iconic images of Grace Kelly as she married Prince Rainier of Monaco; she looked like a fantasy princess becoming a real princess, no question. Lace was back in and gloriously so, but it was all about accentuating a woman’s femininity; although prettiness and wholesomeness was important (it was the 1950s, after all), there was often an appealing hint of sensuality to many a wedding dress design. And, emerging from an age of war-driven austerity, mass communication and mass media was quickly becoming commonplace, ensuring women – those of them who had the money to do so – were calling the shots more; they weren’t just choosing designs from fashion magazines but taking a more bespoke approach to their dress design, which ensured wedding dresses were a little less uniform, a little more unique and individual.
Everything changed in the ’60s when it came to wedding dresses, you may not be surprised to learn – given just how many things began to curl up at the corners in society this decade. Although there were now many more designs sported by brides as they skipped down the aisle (some mini-skirt-inspired, scoop-necked efforts), to say it was far more individual and far more bespoke than in the ’50s may not really be true. The reason being that it was in this decade (when mass consumerism first caught the UK in its vice-like grip) that ever-changing high-street fashions informed women’s wedding dress choices. So while, for many a young bride, adopting such a ‘mod’ look for their big day was all about freedom of expression; they were, in effect, following the herd, albeit modishly and excitingly, just as those in decades before them had. All the same, to opt for one of these 1960s-inspired vintage wedding dresses would still make a stylishly cool fashion statement today!
Finally, as the ’60s drifted into the ’70s, the (what would be today considered) somewhat boho, even hippie-ish maxi-dress look worked its way into the church, as it was produced in white and ivory, ensuring a blissed-out, blushing bride of the ’70s looked cool and comfortable, fabulous and fashionable as she exchanged her vows. In fact, they’re yet to make a nuptial comeback, but pant- and dress-suits made their debut as wedding dresses this decade – Google the 1971 wedding of Mick Jagger to his wife Bianca and check out her outfit and (admittedly, just a year too early) what Diana Rigg wore in the wedding scene in the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It still looks dynamic, daring and ever so edgy in a very appealing way; perhaps because we’re yet to see its like again in the wedding chapel – something that’ll surely be put right one day soon!