If there’s one thing that we can say for sure, it’s that everything changes. And there are few areas where that is more obvious than in the realm of wedding dress fashions. As the years have progressed, the Western world has embraced certain fashion styles that embodied the period and the people, only to cast them aside a few decades later. But, through this progression of wedding dress styles, we can see the way our own society has travelled through reformation, revolution and a reinvention of everything we once took for granted.
Let’s take a trip through time!
Most of the wedding pictures from this era feature uncomfortable brides and stoic grooms. We aren’t sure what the groom’s problem is, but the bride’s issues are clear: Corsets. These ‘fashion accessories’ were all the rage during this period, although we now know that being so constricted is bad for your health. In terms of wedding dress style, there’s a distinctly Victorian flair in this era. Those tight bodices (thanks corset), and naturally falling skirts were a big change from what came before them; the Cinderella puff skirts of yesteryear. In the late 1800s the majority of the dresses were long sleeved, and both a headpiece and a veil was standard.
Hello modern fashion! The 1920s, or the ‘Roaring Twenties’ as they’re sometimes called, had a startling effect on wedding dress fashions. Gone were the constricting designs, to be replaced by comfort and even a little bit of outlandishness. This probably represents the move away from traditional lifestyles of many women in this era. Headgear, particularly the flapper hat style, was very popular, and tight bodices were almost entirely replaced by free and flowing designs.
The 1930s and 1940s
Here we enter the war years, and the effect of the Great Depression is clear in most of the photographic evidence we have in weddings from this era. There were considerable restrictions on the amount of fabric that manufacturers could use, and even more on how much clothing women could buy. Many of the 1920s fashions stuck during this period, but there’s a certain casual vibe from the dresses in the 1930s and 1940s. We also see the start of some shorter and more fitted styles. In general, both wedding dresses and accessories were more practical, and less glamorous.
With the short and curly hairstyle trend that defined the 1950s, so to came the introduction of hats and headpieces for 1950s weddings. The 1950s was also the time the sleeveless princess-line skirt became a popular wedding style, a.k.a. Jackie Kennedy. There’s so much to love about the weddings styles from this era, and indeed these ‘classic’ looks often find their way into modern weddings, with only a few small changes.
Women were rebellious in the 1960s, and their wedding dresses prove it! There was more of an idea of personal fashion, and style changers like bell bottoms, bikinis and miniskirts all played their part. Short wedding dresses were the big thing, but there was less of a designated style. Women were feeling more confident in their own unique take on the wedding dress, as well as on the wedding itself with individual wedding styles and themes all the rage.
This era is one that many of us look back on in shock and horror. How could anyone have looked at the 80s and been inspired from wedding fashion. From the small and simple styles of earlier days, we embraced the Texan slogan: “Bigger is Better!” Everything was big, from the hair to the sleeves, the veils and the skirts. Poofy was in, and you could use it to describe any number of things at an 80s wedding. And don’t even get us started on the trend of bright and pastel bridesmaid dresses.
Another big moment of fashion change in the wedding industry, the 1990s was a time where sexy flourished and tradition wound its way down. Rock & Roll was in the heads of the people, and it shows in the weddings. From the world of big but modest wedding dresses, came a new style that wasn’t afraid to embrace some old designs, as well as show a little more skin.
Here we see the most variation in styles, without much to be seen in terms of a dominating theme. The one thing that we can definitely say about wedding dresses now is personal style is key. Brides are borrowing from the classics of the past, and tweaking to showcase their own unique styles, and to reflect the style of their wedding. From ballrooms to beaches, wedding dresses have become less traditional, and more creative. We can’t wait to see what happens in the future!