Wedding gowns

We taped a wedding and reception yesterday. Interesting, because half the people didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Polish. The bride and groom stood in the middle of the reception room and toasted each other. The bride was reading her toast, and after she’d spoken for a bit and thanked people (in English and Polish), the DJ sneaked in some music. Then she broke into song, surprising her new husband who didn’t know what she had planned. It was very sweet, and very neat.

Anyway… What ‘era’ are bridal gowns from? Hm. That’s not very clear. What I mean is this: If you see a man wearing an elaborate frock coat, ruffled shirt, and breeches; and if he has a tri-corner hat, you may suspect his clothing style is from the 18th Century. A tuxedo jacket with tails, accompanied by a tophat suggests the early-20th Century. Bridal gowns? The traditional white gown kind-of (to me) suggests 18th C. But they also suggest a Disney rendition of a ‘medieval’ princess. What little I know of actual medieval dress doesn’t quite match. It seems that Renaissance dresses were… something. Heavier? More involved? I don’t know.

So where did the style of the traditional wedding gown come from?

It was the wedding of Queen Victoria that prompted people to start getting married in a special white dress. Prior to that, wearing white was not the rule, or even all that common.

According to this write up, wearing white was a status statement – it showed you could afford a dress you would never wear again.

Does this answer your question?

I believe the particular style known as the “traditional” wedding dress is in imitation of the dress Victoria wore to her wedding, which was more or less typical style for dresses she favored in the 1830s.

You can see a drawing of it here:

Bridal gowns can ape any number of historical periods in clothing. That sentence is a disaster. Most wedding gowns are loosely based on a mid-Victorian, crinoline-era style. Since the beginning of the 19th century men’s clothing has been more codified than women’s- as you described it, it’s all readily identifiable by date. It’s more socially acceptable to play around with different designs for women’s clothing, and so you get wedding dresses that look like ‘Disney princess dresses’, or silk slips, or 20’s Flapper dresses.

There’s been a recent vogue for 18th century style falling sleeves and square necklines, but mostly dresses look like they date from the 1800s on.

Don’t for get the “medieval” styles, the 1950s tea-length dresses and the 1930s sheaths. There’s always the Bianca Jagger 1970s white trouser suit too. Basically, you can pick any style of dress that suits your figure and personality. To me wedding dresses today are influenced not just by the 1860s, but also Dior’s New Look and the ballgowns of the 1950s.

Dresses with corseted tops with nipped in waists and A-line skirts are the most popular, for the simple reason that they’re the most flattering. They give the illusion of a waist, boobs and hips to skinny girls, yet they can also camouflage thighs, tummies and hips that are on the heavier side, while making the most of an ample bosom. Fashions may change, but an hour-glass figure (or a dress which gives the illusion of one) will always look great.

Anyone, with any figure can wear the classic “barbie” style dress, whereas you need to have a thin, toned figure to look great in a sheath, a great bottom to wear a fishtail, fabulous arms to go sleeveless, and a nice bosom to go low-cut.

Can you guess what style my wedding dress will be?

I think up until the 1930s, a lot of women just wore their best dresses. The first record of a bride wearing white was actually Mary Queen of Scots. (Back then, white was considered a mourning color).

Laura Ingalls Wilder was married in a black dress. When I did my internship at a local museum, we had several wedding gowns on exhibit-only one of them was white. It was your 1870s bustle gown obviously owned by a wealthy woman. One was a black gown worn by a German immigrant, one was plaid, and one from 1934 was a dark green velvet sheath type dress. It wasn’t even dressy.

And man, was Catherine de’ Medici pissed. Her sickly son’s bride shows up in a funeral dress for the wedding…the nerve!