Fashion’s Iconic Dress Of White: The Wedding Dress

Personalized Style In Dreamy White: The Wedding Dress
Visions Of White….

The wedding dress. The dress of white that fascinates girls in childhood with visions of princesses and happily ever afters….Beyond childhood, this fashionable and ever changing dress of white carries dreams and possibilities of the future through to adulthood. Visions of wedding dresses hanging in waiting are vivid photographs of a new life about to begin: a marriage. These photographs represent grand and paramount events in our lives, if we so chose to take this road. The customized dress, the editing of details and alterations all render a personalized, individual bride. In a sense, each dress becomes the bride. Captured in a moment in time. My own dress of white is married within the compilations above and the image is a visual memory for me of the beginning of our own beautiful journey…

This iconic wedding dress has a history spun with lace, heavily brocaded fabric and embroidery…
The history of the white wedding dress is credited to Queen Victoria in 1840. In her marriage to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, Queen Victoria wore a beautiful white satin gown, with an 18 foot train carried over her arm. A wreath headdress of orange blossom and an exquisite lace veil was the crowning embellishment for this first bride of white. The wedding photo was published around the world and swiftly the white wedding gown became all the rage with high-society and wealthy nobility brides. Queen Victoria set a precedent that not only changed her century but has forever changed the world of wedding fashion as we know it. Interestingly, the pattern for Victoria’s dress is said to have been purposely destroyed after completion to retain its uniqueness. Who knew?

Queen Victoria, 1840: Trendsetter In Wedding White

Prior to Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901), brides commonly were wed in current fashions and colors, including cream and ivory, soft greens, soft blues (as blue was considered a symbol of purity) and black. In fact, a black dress was worn if the bride was marrying a widower. My, how times have changed! These gowns were simple in design and in embellishment. Often, the veil was the most elaborate part of the wedding attire. Bonnets and veils were worn in accordance with the fashion styles of the day, but it was not until the 1860’s that veils were worn over the face. Again, who knew?. Keep in mind that without modern conveniences, cleaning a white, elaborate dress is said to have been next to impossible. In addition, the sheer expense of such a luxurious gown of white that may never be worn again due to its style and color was an indulgent extravagance that a bride perhaps could not afford and justify. This thought more than likely continued with brides that were not fortunate to be in the high-society. The fact that a bride could wear white became a status symbol of its own. A fashion statement, indeed.

History brings forth the wedding dress of white from the Victorian Era into the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850) in which, specific to the wedding dress, significant changes in manufacturing occurred: the arrival of the department store. Accessibility of the fabrics and designs created a ‘new’ wedding dress and the white wedding dress was no longer defined by the exceptionally wealthy. In fact, by 1890 it is said that it was accepted in fashion that a wedding gown should be white. The early 20th century (1901-1939), during the Edwardian period, even more lavish embellishments, such as lace and pearls, were added to the world of bridal fashion. These opulent gowns continued until the outbreak of WWI when styles quickly moved to a more simple style, reflecting the changing role of women in society. Yet another example of how fashion is forever changed by the events surrounding it! Trends changed and hemlines were shortened and tightly laced corsets soon vanished. Coco Chanel once again originated a revolutionary design when she introduced a short, knee-length white wedding dress in the 1920’s with a long train and full veil. The 1920’s also brought with it the petite flapper dress and the fashion styles of the early 1930’s influenced bridal style and design as the glamourous evening gowns of the big screen filtered into the dreams of bridal white. It was when the depression hit that brides had to, once again, rely on their ‘best’ dress for their wedding day. It is said that some brides even dyed their wedding dresses, keeping only the collar and cuffs white. Repurposing within a financial crisis, indeed! The 1940’s captured the bride in luxurious ivory satins with classic circle trains and in the 1950’s and early 1960’s bridal gowns continued to be more traditional with full skirts, puffed sleeves and tailored waists. The hemlines of the wedding dress varied between ‘tea length’ and full length gowns and stylish accessories often included white gloves and a veil. It was the turbulence of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that saw an abrupt change of the wedding gown. Many free spirited brides banned the gown of white and traded tradition for other cultural influences of the time, such as colorful dresses from Mexico or embroidered Indian garments. The white wedding gown perhaps had its returning moment in glory with the iconic wedding dress of the 1980’s: Britain’s Princess Diana’s in her Royal marriage to Prince Charles. A royal nod to Queen Victoria, indeed. Romanticism had returned and the fairy tale gown of white was restored… Alas, so did the expensive detailing!

The 21st century bride, with the access to a world of style through the internet, can certainly incorporate any style or fashion to be the bride she dreams to be. Possibilities and choices are certainly endless, from ornate and formal to simple and informal, personal style sets in and the spirit of the bride is refined and perfected through her custom choices. Ecru, eggshell and ivory and even colored dresses have made stunning entries into the bridal world, yet the tradition of the white wedding gown carries onward as a fashionable wedding tradition. Either way, personal choices of a lifetime are presented for a bride-to-be…

Whether a billowy dress of tulle, a tailored and fitted sheath of satin, taffeta or silk chiffon, adorned elaborately or embellished with simplicity, or whether the dress is either traditional in style or modern and sleek, an A-Line, Asymmetrical, Empire, Flare or straight or a ball gown in princess style, the wedding dress one wears will forever hold a sense of style of the bride who wears it, and the bride who wore it…..a personal statement, indeed.

To those brides who are in the midst of searching for their dream dress…best of wishes in this memorable quest. The perfect dress will find you.


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