For a long time, wedding dresses remained wholly similar in terms of their design, but that all changed 100 years ago when dress designs began to evolve slowly. Since the days of Queen Victoria, the classic white wedding dress has remained in fashion, but other parts of bridal couture have changed significantly.
Wondering how much bridal trends have changed since your great-grandmother was married? For everything that you need to know about the changes that have occurred in bridal fashion over the past 100 years, read on.
In the early 1900s, looser wedding dresses were worn. These dresses were usually floor length and designed to be floaty and easy to move in - this was because this was the era when dancing at weddings became a tradition.
As the 1920s came about, dress designs changed significantly, becoming more form-fitting, with many gowns designed to mimic the style of the popular flapper dress. These dresses tended to have a high neckline, a straight slim fit, and a low waistline, and a long(ish) lace veil, of course. In BBC drama Downton Abbey, this is the exact style of dress that Mary Grantham wears for her marriage to Matthew Crawley, set in the early 1920s.
In the 1930s, it was all about simplicity, with brides sticking to simpler designs featuring materials like silk or rayon. These dresses tended to feature figure-hugging silhouettes, high necklines and long sleeves. In this period, it was unusual to see a bride in anything but a figure-skimming design.
The bridal gowns that were popular in the 1930s were just as popular during the following decade - very little changed in terms of the designs.
In the 1950s, it was all about ballgowns. Ballgowns with slim waists and huge skirts were what dominated 1950s bridal couture. Strapless style also started to come into fashion in the 1950s, with ballgown style dresses designed without straps or sleeves, just like Jacqueline Bouvier wore for her wedding to John F Kennedy, and like what Audrey Hepburn wore for her wedding in 1954.
Once again, dresses got slimmer - most brides chose to wear a figure-skimming design. Column dresses were seen as being seriously on-trend in the sixties and were what a high percentage of brides opted to wear like Elizabeth Taylor wore for her wedding in 1964. As part of the evolution of women’s fashion, many brides chose to raise the length of their wedding dresses, to make them more like mini skirts. Mutton sleeves were also on-trend, with dress designs featuring various types of puffy sleeves.
Big sleeves were still in fashion in the 1970s, but how they were worn changed again - a popular design was big sleeves with a puff at the elbow, like the dress design that The Emmanuel's designed for Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981.
In the 1980s, brides once again ditched sleeves, instead opting to wear sleeveless dress designs. Once again, tighter dresses came back into style and were featured in all of the world’s most prestigious fashion magazines, including Vogue.
In the 1990s, sleeves were back once again, with many brides opting to wear this style of dress over the strapless versions that were favoured the decade before. People were getting tired of strapless, and everyone was asking for sleeves again. The introduction of the more modern silhouette that was flirtier and more revealing become on-trend.
By this time, tighter A-line dresses had become a trend, with many brides sporting this style of dress. This was a period when there was a lot more diversification when it came to wedding dresses, with a wider range of designs available, from tighter fitting dresses to looser designs.
In the 2010s, sleeves made a return all thanks to Kate Middleton and the gorgeous sleeved dress she wore for her wedding to Prince William. Barely there dresses also become on-trend, with wedding dresses becoming more diverse and more daring than ever before.