Fashion Flashback: The History of the Wedding Dress


(Original story published on Monday May 20th, 2015 on

A curve-hugging mermaid, a slinky A-line, a Cinderella-inspired ballgown; With so many different styles out there, how’s a girl to fall in love with just one dress?

With nuptial season officially upon us, we’re taking a look back at the history of wedding dresses. From oversized sleeves and ultra-cinched waists, to short mod picks and bold blush beauties, flip through for 10 wedding gown trends that are bound to stand the test of time.

history wedding dress rococo
Rococo Wedding Dresses
In the days of Marie Antoinette,wedding dresses naturally pulled all the stops. Think heavy draping, lace overlays, organza bustles, low necklines, cinched waists, and serious embellishments, complete with side hoops or panniers that extended the width of the skirt for even more drama.

history wedding dress shop rococo kleinfelds
Get the Look: RococoWedding Dresses
Get the modern-day version of a Rococo wedding dress by opting for a ball gown boasting a cinched waist, brocade fabric, bow accents, and dramatic detailing in the back. Our pick? Rosa Clara Sally Ballgown from Kleinfelds Bridal.

history wedding dress victorian
Victorian Wedding Dresses
It was Queen Victoria who made it a trend to wear white on your wedding day, with the lacy, eggshell number she wore when she wed Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Aside from white gowns, other bridal gown trends popular in the late 19th century included high necklines and skirts in a bell-shaped silhouette.

history wedding dress victorian temperley london
Get the Look: Victorian Wedding Dresses
Ideal for classic and religious ceremonies, opt for a style with tons of lace and an elegant, high neck, like Temperley London’s Long Grace Bridal Dress, available at Shopbop ($5825).

history wedding dress flapper
Flapper-Inspired Wedding Dresses
Dazzling embellishments, dropped-waists, relaxed fits, and fabulous head pieces: would we expect any less form the roaring twenties? Brides opted for all the glitz and glamour with their shimmering numbers, perfect for doing the foxtrot across the dance floor.

history wedding dress flapper jcrew
Get the Look: Flapper-Inspired Wedding Dresses

Channel your inner flapper girl with a J.Crew’s Collection Beaded Fringe Dress (US $1295). Just be sure to add a killer headband.

history wedding dress art deco
Art Deco Wedding Dresses
The ’30s and ’40s brought along bias-cut silk gowns that were more clean and simple than ever before. Typically, these Greek goddess-style dresses featured blousy sleeves, fluttering details, a slinky way of hanging off the body, and a cross-over chest design.

history wedding dress art deco bhldn
Get the Look: Art DecoWedding Dresses
An Art Deco-inspired gown is perfect if you’re looking for a simple, elegant and classic style. Go for an A-line silhouette with blousy sleeves and a deep V in the back. We’re loving BHLDN’s Cassandra Gown ($1100).

(FILES) Official picture of US actress G
The Cinched Waist Wedding Dresses
The mid-century was all about elegant, ladylike gowns, as donned by our all-time favourite style stars, from Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, to Jackie O and Elizabeth Taylor. Wedding dresses in the 1950s featured crisp tailoring, classic fit-and-flare silhouettes, and cinched waists: Hollywood glam at its finest.

history wedding dress grace kelly kleinfelds
Get the Look: The Cinched Waist Wedding Dresses
Seek inspiration from Grace Kelly’s lace, Jackie O’s shoulder-baring sleeves and Kate Middleton’s modern silhouette, and try Atelier Pronovias’s Celandia Off-Shoulder A-LineGown, available at Kleinfeld’s Bridal.

Mod Wedding Dresses
Take cue from willowy mod queens like Twiggy and Mia Farrow and go for the short and sweet styles of the swinging sixties. These simple dresses featured shift silhouettes, sleeveless styles or three-quarter-length sleeves, bateau necklines and knee-grazing hemlines.

history wedding dress mod adam lippes
Get the Look: Mod Wedding Dresses
Dare to go short? Go for a fashion-forward option in a boxy silhouette, like Adam Lippes’s Fluted Satin-Twill Mini Skirt ($1180), available a Net-a-Porter.

history wedding dress disco
Disco Wedding Dresses
Get into the groove and show off your edgy side in bell sleeves, deep V-necks, thigh-high slits, and even swap the dress for a jumpsuit, if you’ve got the guts. Bianca Jagger showed what the ’70s were about when she married Mick in a cool white suit, sans undertop, while donning an oversized chapeau.

history wedding dress disco roland mouret
Get the Look: Disco Wedding Dresses
Looking to make a statement? Go for Roland Mouret’s Compeyson Open-Back Stretch-Crepe Gown, available at Net-a-Porter ($2731).

Picture dated 29 July 1981 of Diana, Pri
Dramatic Wedding Dresses
When it comes to the ’80s, think big. And that’s exactly what Princess Diana did (and every bride in the decade who followed) when it came to her puffy-sleeved, voluminous dress she wore for her wedding to Prince Charles. Not to mention, the gown featured a 25-foot train, the longest in royal wedding history.

history wedding dress volume krikor
Get the Look: Dramatic Wedding Dresses
Go for the ultra dramatic and have fun with shape and volume with a stunning gown from Krikor Jabotian.

history wedding dress minimalist
Minimalist Wedding Dresses
When it came to the ’90s, minimalism was the trend that ruled everywhere from the streets to the aisle. The master of minimalism herself, Carolyn Bessette, wore a fluid, bias-cut gown in a pearl-white crepe when she married John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996.

history wedding dress minimalist jcrew
Get the Look: Minimalist Wedding Dresses

Go the effortlessly chic, fuss-free route on your special day with J.Crew’s Brianna Gown (US $450).

history wedding dress blush
Blush Wedding Dresses
Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway and Reese Witherspoon (to name a few) all donned the blush-coloured bridal gowns in their early 2000s weddings. As sweet and feminine as white, blush gowns also offer a contemporary and completely breathtaking edge to a classic wedding gown.

history wedding dress blush bhldn
Get the Look: Blush Wedding Dresses
Why not live la vie en rose for your special day, and choose a striking blush wedding gown? We’re loving BHLDN’s Elena Gown ($3150).

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