Monday, 23 January 2017

The Evolution of the Wedding Dress

(Image: Vogue) 

It's all anyone talks about at weddings, 'what was the dress like?', 'did the bride look nice?', 'what was the detailing like?' and so on and so on. For the bride, the wedding can be all about THE dress. But what most people might not know about is the history of the wedding dress and how over the past two centuries the wedding dress has changed so much.

The one thing that might be surprising is that the colour of the dress wasn't originally white. Traditionally, the colour of the dress was anything but white. And the tradition of the colour white symbolising virginity and purity isn't true. The white bridal gown's primary function was to present the family in the best light, in terms of wealth and social status.


"The connotation of purity was not important," according to Edwina Ehrman, curator of Wedding Dresses 1775-2014 at the Victoria & Albert Museum told the BBC back in 2014. "It was about wealth. Throughout the 18th and 19th Century, women who culd afford it got married in white."
Back in the 18th Century, people didn'thave the luxury of a washing machine and a bit of Vanish to make our whites sparkly and prestine. If they wanted to wear their Sunday Best, then they would have to grab their washboard and rub the dirt out by hand - meaning white clothes were impossible to clean thoroughly. "It was a garment you just wore once, so it was only for the very wealthy."

 So how did the white dress become popular? Well it was thanks to Queen Victoria who wore one when she married Prince Albert in 1840. That was the turning point within bridal fashions. From then on, if you were to wear another colour, you were considered "daring and rebellious" - take Gwen Stefani's dip-dye pink John Galliano dress; Dita Von Teese's purple Vivienne Westwood gown or Kaley Cuoco, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Biel, who all tied the knot in pink.

(Image: Amanda Manupella Photography)

Over the years, we have seen the design of wedding dresses change/adopt to the trends of that time. During the Second World War, brides often borrowed dresses or made their own. The fifties saw calf-length, ballerina style with a nipped in waist and fuller skirt become the favourite. The 'swinging sixties'. skirts got shorter and mini-wedding dresses were everywhere. By the seventies, bridal dresses became a big business - Bianca Jagger's, white suit changed the whole game. Princess Diana set the trend for ruffles, puffy sleeves and monster trains during the eighties. From the nineties onwards, it was time to get serious. Women would spend thousands and thousands on the perfect dress - often going to designers themselves for their very own custom gown. As church weddings became less popular and destination weddings were on the rise, strapless dresses became popularised. 

We're at a day in age, where fashion can be anything you want it to be. We've come to a point in time where you can wear whatever you want, it's just about having that style and confidence to pull it off, and wedding dresses should be no different.

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