Wedding Dresses Through Time
By Christina Howard
When you picture your dream wedding dress, what comes to mind? Wedding dresses now come in all styles and many of us have even dreamed of walking down the aisle in a Cinderella style white gown or mermaid cut lace bodice. But did you know that wedding dresses haven’t always been traditionally white, and just as fashion styles have evolved through the decades, so have wedding gown designs. Take a look through our gallery and see how your modern dream wedding dress compares!
Indian weddings are close to our hearts, so for our first trip down memory lane, we start with a traditional Indian sari, which dates all the way back to 200 BC! The brides head is covered as a sign of respect and many brides also adorn their hands or feet with henna, a natural dye. Indian tradition dictates that a new bride is not to do any housework until the henna design has faded away.
During the Middle Ages, brides would often wear either a blue accessory or blue dress, as depicted in this painting circa 1510. The color blue was considered to be a symbol of purity – which explains the origin of our modern nuptial phrase, “something borrowed, something blue”.
Throughout the 1920s, women in America began wearing more comfortable clothing and became more outlandish – they went to jazz clubs, smoked cigarettes, and dated whomever they chose! The iconic headpiece is called a cloche and inspired many brides of the era to wear similar headpieces. The free flowing garments represented the newfound womanhood of flappers in the 1920s.
In 1947, Queen Elizabeth’s ivory satin gown was thought to symbolize spring and rebirth – a much needed “beacon of hope” for post-World War II England. The Queen inspired a nation as she famously saved up her ration cards to purchase the more than 10,000 white pearls and silver thread, in addition to other rich embellishments.
Wedding dresses of the 1950s improved upon the fashions of the past, as full-skirted or tea-length gowns grew in popularity. This one, worn by Audrey Hepburn and designed by Givenchy, perfectly embodied the decades’ style.
In the 1960s, many brides threw style rules out the window and embraced a more relaxed look, like this one worn by Raquel Welch. Shorter styles, like Welch’s crocheted mini-dress, inspired brides everywhere to stretch the limit of traditional wedding fashion.
In 1981, the world got a glimpse of the iconic Princess Diana and her very 80s style wedding dress. With puffy sleeves and a Cinderella style gown, Princess Di’s dress captured the elegance and over the top style from this decade. Rumor has it that her father could barely even accompany her in the coach to her ceremony because her train was so long!
The mid-90s was all about minimalism, sleek design and elegant fabrics, like silk. No one spring boarded this new style quite like Carolyn Bessette Kennedy and her sleek, silk gown. Finally, the end of the oversized dress was near and brides could finally enjoy their wedding by walking around and dancing the night away! This brought a much needed change from past fashions.
Wrapping up our journey through the past is a more recent member of the royal family – Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Her Alexander McQueen designed gown has since launched thousands of replicas, but what is most striking is that in a sea of strapless gowns, the Duchess was able to popularize a modern, yet conservative look, inspiring brides to cover up a bit.
We hope you enjoyed this walk through the memory lane of wedding gowns! How does your modern gown compare? What elements from past decades would you like to see in current designs? One thing is certain, fashion is cyclical, so keep a look out for some of these past traditions to pop up at your local bridal boutique!