Tuesday, 12 November 2013

#42 Fashion and design 20th century wedding dresses

Those forced by economics into wearing a dress that would soon become regular daily wear, would adorn it for the day with temporary decorations. Up until the nineteenth century ribbons would be tied into bows, or "love knots" and loosely attached to the dress. These "bride laces" would be pulled off by the guests during the post ceremony festivities, and kept as wedding favours, or souvenirs. This custom gradually died out, being replaced by flowers instead. Guests would be given floral button-holes to wear, and the bride might wear flowers in her hair; as a corsage; or garlanded round her skirts, or else carry them in a bouquet. Rosemary and myrtle were early favourites, and orange blossom became popular in the 1830s. This custom has, of course, remained to this day - most brides, no matter how simply dressed, will have a flower or two somewhere on their outfit! When Charlotte Pennell (left) married George Hill in 1910, she was nearing 40, and had no intention of wearing a "once only" dress. She did however, decorate her fashionable ensemble with a posy of flowers in her hat and a matching bouquet

Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo

The "traditional" wedding garb as we know it today first appeared in the late eighteenth century. With the introduction of machine made fabrics and cheap muslins imported from India, and styles inspired by the classical world, by 1800 the white dress with a veil was definitely the one to wear. As usual with fashion, it began in London, spread to other cities and towns and eventually to country areas. Princess Charlotte (right) gave it royal approval at her marriage to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg in 1816.In 1840 Queen Victoria (left) chose white silk and Honiton lace for her own wedding, and made it the virtual rule.The Queen was the first royal bride to have bridesmaids to carry her train too, which also set a fashion.














Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo


Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo




In the nineteenth century, even a bride who wore white would expect to wear her dress again. For the season of her "bride visits" when she would do the rounds of family, friends and acquaintances as a newly married woman, she would wear her bridal gown, with the train and flowers removed. A higher class bride would then adapt the bodice of the outfit (which was often made separately) and retrim it for evening wear for another season. Queen Victoria herself removed the lace overskirt from her dress and frequently used it again - she wore it over a black silk gown for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations over 50 years later.















Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo


Image result for wedding dress photo












Until the 1920s wedding dresses were always in the style of the moment, if more elaborately decorated than usual, and more modest than the the most daring fashion. In that decade however, there was a revolution in women's clothing, and hemlines for ordinary wear rose from the shoe to well above the knee. At first wedding styles followed suit, and brides showed their ankles, but as skirts grew ever more abbreviated, it was felt by some to be unsuitable for a church service, and many brides preferred full-length wedding gowns. This choice of following the fashion of the season or reverting to a long dress with a train led in the twentieth century to the development of a separate style in bridal wear which echoed, but often diverged from mainstream fashion (like this Vionnet couture design of 1926).












Image result for wedding dress photo

Image result for wedding dress photo


This was emphasised by the hiatus caused by the Second World War, when clothes were rationed, uniforms were ubiquitous, and frivolity was frowned upon. When fashion came back, everyone was keen to wear long gowns in luxurious fabrics on their wedding day, regardless of the ever increasing popularity of casual, easywear clothing and trousers for women in daily life. As fashion has become more relaxed and sporty, so wedding styles have diverged more, so that although each decade's brides are easily distinguished by the styles then in vogue, it is not because of that style's resemblence to general fashion.















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