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Wedding Fashion Through The Ages

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Posted May 1, 2013 by Sarah Thomson-Kennedy in 2013
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Vintage styling has for some time been hugely popular for weddings. So what were the wedding fashions and influences from three of the key decades and how you can draw some top ideas for your own wedding?

1920’s – It’s a family affair

Weddings were a family affair organised, catered and decorated by family and friends.

Wedding dresses started the decade simple, plain and adaptable, often satin so that they could be dyed and re-used again.  That changed during the decade with hemlines gradually shortening and by 1926 these had crept up to knee length.

A generation that had come of age during the war now wanted to let their hair down.  A new breed of women, released from wearing a corset, now danced in jazz clubs, drank and smoked.  Silhouettes were flat chested, straight up and down.

Veils were worn low on the forehead with beaded head dresses which for many brides, added much needed glamour, wreath style head pieces were popular and suitable for all face features and shapes for Ladies Wedding Fashion.

The bar shoe, which had been worn for many years was now visible under the shorter dresses meaning more attention was paid to shoes also looking fabulous.

The fabrics used were silk and embroidered chiffon accentuated by the flower of choice, which remained the lily.

Strings of pearls and elbow length gloves were the must have accessories.

Your Wedding Fashion Take-aways:

  • Wreath style head dresses
  • Involve family and friends in the organising and dressing of the venue for a true vintage feel
  • Beading and Pearls accessorised with long gloves
  • Shorter dress so that you can opt for heavily detailed shoes

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1930’s – Picture perfect

Family and friends were still heavily involved with the wedding but this decade started to see the introduction of stores offering wedding services.  1934 saw a change to the times that couples could wed, an extension from 3pm to 6pm meant that celebrations could continue on to the evening reception.

Following the 1929 Wall Street crash and ensuing problems, people were depression weary and audiences flocked to the cinema to escape the reality of life.  The movies provided a window into a glamorous alternative world, and if there was one day when every girl could be a star it was her wedding day.

Hair styles moved from the chin to the shoulder in length, and soft waves were incorporated.  Photography started to bring society weddings to life and brides wanted to emulate them.

A bias cut, was heavily used and the halter neck dress first appeared. Bolero jackets and capes gave an impression of wide shoulders which further emphasised slim hips.

Rhinestones and feathers gave added sparkle to satin dresses emphasised with costume jewellery and wedding fashion. Dresses were worn over long, with a small train or with fabric flowing onto the floor.

During the second half of the decade pastel colours were an alternative to white wedding dresses in

1937 the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson married, she wore a pale blue crepe satin two piece dress.  The cinched in waist and fabric draped over the chest was a style that captured the imagination of many brides.  The dress was quickly copied and appeared in many “ready to wear” collections in clothes stores.

Your Wedding Fashion Take-aways:

  • Modernist designs and Art Deco – incorporate these into your stationery.
  • Gorgeous waves in shoulder length hair to provide movie-star glamour.
  • Halter necks and over long slim silhouetted satin dresses, fabulous for weddings as they provide such a luxurious look.
  • Costume jewellery and rhinestones.

1950’s – Famously fabulous

Women had proved their independence and capabilities during World War II but had to give up work to make way for returning soldiers.  Stores now offered specific wedding fashion services and brides wanted wedding packages to ensure their day was special.  Grand formal ceremonies became the thing to do and every girl felt it her right to have a big wedding.

Fuller skirts became popular with nipped in waists combined with short (wrist length) gloves.  In 1953 Jackie Bouvier married John F Kennedy in an ivory silk taffeta gown which purportedly had a 24 inch waist accessorised with small white gloves.  The ever stunning Audrey Hepburn married actor Mel Ferrer in an equally glorious gown.

Sweet heart necklines and puffed sleeves became popular or high collared gowns, as worn by Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. The antique lace upper bodice embellished with pearls, sat over a silk taffeta gown made from some 25 yards of material.

Your Wedding Fashion Take-aways:

  • Little white gloves
  • Full veil, flowing down at the back
  • Full skirt (tea length or to the floor)
  • Understated flowers with lots of small white blooms

Your Wedding Fashion Era

Once you have picked the era that inspires you, bring it to life across all aspects of your wedding fashion in as large or small a scale as you wish.

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About the Author

Sarah Thomson-Kennedy

I founded Indigo Flash Bespoke Stationery as an outlet for my creative flair. I set up the company in 2009 following organising my own wedding. I wanted a bespoke and unique feel to my stationery but when searching for something handcrafted and quality I struggled - there seemed to be a shortage in the market. Following the excitement of our big day and time to relax and reflect on honeymoon Indigo Flash was born – a small business with great products, strong attention to detail, and a strong desire to offer a personal service.

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