Tuesday February 22, 2011
History of the Wedding Dress (Pre-1900s)
Who was the first bride to wear a white wedding dress? The iconic wedding dress has been moved and shaped throughout the years in more ways than we can imagine. Check out some of these defining moments in history that has shaped today’s bridal styles.
-Trends Reporter, Stephanie Taylor
Traditional Egyptian, Greek, Roman & African Wedding Dresses
|Egyptian||African “buba” dress|
Marriages first became a legal bond in ancient Egypt. In Egypt, a bride would wear a pink or blue tunic wedding dress made of linen to keep cool for her engagement party the day before the wedding, and then she would wear floor length canvas fabric made out of linen or cotton with gold embroidery as her wedding dress! Roman brides wore long draped white wedding dresses tied in a special knot at the waist. Brides from ancient Greece also wore similar draped white wedding dresses because it was the symbol of fertility.
In Africa, south of Egypt, brides wore kente cloth, beads in red, gold, purple and emerald green, and white cowry shells. If they were Muslim or Christian, they would wear white. African brides wore a “buba”, which was a blouse, and an “iro,” which was a long wrap skirt. African brides wore traditional wedding dresses for their reception and western wedding dresses for their wedding.
Traditional Asian Chinese, Japan, Korean, Mexican & Indian Wedding Dresses
|Traditional Korean||Mexican “Huipil”|
Cultural and traditional wedding dresses are definitely the most unique. In China, brides wore one-piece wedding dresses in the north and two-piece red silk wedding dresses with silver or gold embroidery in the south. Red symbolized luck and was believed to ward off evil spirits.
|Traditional Chinese||Traditional Japanese|
Japanese brides wore a long white bridal kimono for a wedding dress, while Korean brides wore a red silk “wonsam” dress with blue silk lining. Over the “wonsam” a coat called a “hanbok” was worn. Traditional Mexican brides wore a huipil, or an ankle length tunic wedding dress with colorful floral embroidery. Flamenco wedding dresses were also worn by Mexican brides.
Middle Age & Medieval & Renaissance wedding dresses Wedding Dresses 400s -1700s
Wedding dresses in the middle ages are pretty similar to what your typical medieval gown looks like today. Medieval and Renaissance women wore wedding dresses that cascaded down to the floor with long sleeves with sharp triangular points over the hands that were longer than the sleeve at the bottom of the hand. Their wedding dresses also had corseted waists and boat neck bodices.
|Anne Boleyn||Marie de Medici|
This is also around the time where royal wedding dresses began influencing the trends. The infamous Queen Anne Boleyn’s wedding to King Henry VII during the Middle Ages was depicted in a painting that shows the Queen wearing a yellow wedding dress. King Henry IV of France married Marie de Medici in October of 1600, who wore a gorgeous ivory silk wedding dress with gold embroidery. As you can see, in 70 years wedding dress sleeves were shortened and the angular cuffs went back to normal.
Georgian Era Wedding Dresses (1714–1830)
The sleeves moved up and up in the Georgian era. Short puffy sleeves that ended either below the shoulder blade or at the elbow were the trend. However, the dresses still had a scoop neck with an empire waist.
Anne of Brittany married King Louis XII of France in the Georgian era and is rumored to have worn the first white wedding dress in Europe. In actuality, the white wedding dress didn’t become the norm until Queen Victoria wore it in the Victorian era a decade later. Wedding dresses were blue or any other color the bride wanted to wear. Princess Charlotte also wore a wedding dress typical of the era. However, France’s Queen Marie Antoinette‘s wedding dress was in a royal couture league of its own. Her low cut scoop neck bodice with lace trim only paled in comparison to her full hoop skirt.
Victorian & Edwardian Era Wedding Dresses –Mid 1800s to Early 1900s
|Queen Victoria||Princess Alexandra of Denmark|
So, as was previously mentioned, the white wedding dress trend was started by Queen Victoria in the Victorian era. Victorian wedding dresses still had short sleeves but with a fitted a bodice and a full skirt. Later in the era, long trains became popular. After Queen Victoria and Prince Albert married in February of 1840, every bride in Europe (and later, the world) wanted a white silk wedding dress with gold embroidery, off-the-shoulder neckline and puffy sleeves. About 20 years later, Princess Alexandra of Denmark copied the look with an off-the-shoulder lace white wedding dress with a full skirt of lace and satin with short lace sleeves.
Napoleon’s wife, Empress Josephine, continued the white wedding dress trend. Popular for her fine clothes, her wedding dress was one of the first to be made of chiffon. Her wedding dress under the robe was ivory with gold embroidery on the skirt. Empress Josephine’s wedding dress had a high empire waist, low cut square neckline and bulbous puffy sleeves from the top of the shoulder. The sleeves of wedding dresses in the Edwardian era began their descent towards the wrist, while the bodice of the dress rose to have flaps that extended over the shoulder.