Then to Now: The Evolution of the Wedding Gown

Then to Now: The Evolution of the Wedding Gown

Wedding dress styles are constantly changing and evolving but some styles are timeless.
Giorgio Armani said, “Elegance is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered”.


Women’s fashion reflected the free spirited, modernist era of the roaring 20s. The unparalleled fashion trends of this era saw women abandon the restrictive corset in favour of narrow, loose fitting silhouettes and shorter hemlines. Flapper brides were characterised by the use of beautiful lace, ornate beading and lace cloche headdresses.

1920s bride


This era saw brides once again embracing the female silhouette with sophisticated floor length gowns. Sleek elegant form fitting designs were favoured with matching loose veils.


Wedding dresses of the 1940s were simple and elegant featuring a higher waistline and a fuller A line skirt. The gowns often featured short or full length sleeves and a sweetheart neckline.


The fashion of the 50s was fun and flirty. Bridal gowns featured an accentuated cinched waist, voluminous tea length skirt and modest neckline. This decade embraced opulence and glamour and has been described as the golden age of couture.


Fashion of the 60s reflected the dynamic social changes and the progressive attitudes of the decade. Designers responded with a more liberal and daring approach to design. Wedding dresses featured short hemlines, boxy silhouettes and the empire waist.


The 1970s saw the emergence of various subcultures including hippie, rocker and mod. Consequently the fashion was eclectic and creative, reflecting the different subcultures of the era. The 70s bride had a unique vision and style with a more relaxed and whimsical approach. Brides wore billowy light fabrics with a relaxed empire waist and angel sleeves.


Brides from the 80s will always be remembered for their extravagant style. This decade was characterised by voluminous silhouettes, dramatic trains, exaggerated puffy sleeves and oversized veils.


The 90s bride embraced a more minimalistic approach opting for a simple sexy look in contrast to the extravagant girly style of the 80s. Spaghetti straps, simple long veils and silk identified the brides of this era.

Image below: ©Denis Reggie 1996, used with permission


Simple statement bridal gowns graced the aisle and the big screen in the noughties. This was the decade that witnessed the transition from church aisle to garden or beach aisle with destination weddings becoming immensely popular. Consequently brides were taking more risks and favoured strapless gowns with full skirts.


Sexy sophistication comes to mind when I think of the styles that have been making trend in recent years. Brides are making statements with sheer panelling, plunging necklines and three dimensional beading and embroidery. Brides are choosing figure hugging silhouettes to flatter and emphasise their feminine curves. The more conservative bride is opting for sheer, embellished necklines and sleeves or capes.


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