Wedding Dress Then and Now – What Changed During Last 100 Years?

wedding dress

Wedding dresses have changed over the past century. While some looks came and went, others have recycled through with slight variations as the years have gone by.

The history of the wedding dress is a fascinating way to look at the evolution of fashion over time. Here’s some insight into how wedding dresses have changed over the past 100 years.

The 1920s

The 1920s were a revolutionary time for wedding dress fashion. Brides abandoned the longer, more conservative gowns with layers of fabric that had become commonplace in the decades previous. Instead, they opted for more daring, flashy dresses inspired by the iconic flapper style that was so popular in the roaring 20s.

Art deco style beading entered the scene, and the traditional veil was often replaced with ornate headbands. While the fabric and cuts have changed over time, you can still see a lot of 20s inspired glitz and glam in modern bridal attire, which is fitting as we enter the 20s once more. See some of the art deco-inspired looks at

The 1930s

The Great Depression changed bridal fashion for the better part of the decade. Brides opted for many of the more traditional cuts from the early 1900s, leaving the excess of the 20s in the past. Dresses were made from cheap fabrics that were often uncomfortable. Many brides opted to forgo a wedding gown and made do with their nicest dress, often the one they would wear to church every Sunday.

For those who still had some resources available, the main inspiration was Hollywood glam. Many historians believe that this was due to an underlying sense of longing for something better, especially among those who had suffered greatly in the market crash.

The 1940s

As the Great Depression transitioned into World War Two, many brides stuck with wearing their Sunday best to their wedding. Those who had a bit more time to plan tended toward larger, more flowy skirts that allowed for movement. This continued on through the late 1940s and into the 50s.

The 1950s

Big skirts were all the rage in the 1950s, for brides who enjoyed dancing to big band music and those who strived to bring back the romance as the war became a thing of the past. The 1950s would also prove to be iconic for bridal trends that are still around today, namely the introduction of the sweetheart neckline.

Many brides of the 1950s opted for ankle-length gowns to show off their shoes and gloves became a favored accessory.

The 1960s & 1970s

The 1960s are marked by man’s first trip to the moon. During the peak of the space race, many brides took inspiration from space-oriented shows. Knee-length skirts became the norm, as did a simpler, more modern approach. Some brides even opted for metallic accents, which has made a reappearance this year.

The 1970s were a mixed bag for bridal fashion. Many brides returned to previous styles while others celebrated the free love movement with sleeveless, bohemian dresses.

The 1980s

Like everything in the 1980s, wedding dresses were all about excess. Satin fabric, lots of lace, puffy sleeves, and big veils set atop big hair, accented by padded shoulders were the norm.

history of wedding dress

The 1990s

Things started to cool down in the 90s. While the early part of the decade still featured many carry-over trends from the 1980s, the latter part was a sleeker, simpler look overall. Spaghetti straps and halter tops became the favorite for 90s brides, and many brides took inspiration from sitcoms of the era.

The 2000s & 2010s

Strapless gowns made their debut in the 2000s, and brides experimented with pops of color in their traditional white gowns. The 2010s have largely been influenced by the royal weddings, with lace and sleeves making an appearance in 2011 and pure white making a comeback in 2018.

There are a lot of incredible looks to draw inspiration from for the 2020s bride. Blend your favorites for a unique look– just leave the 80s behind.


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1 Comment

  • Miranda

    Thanks for sharing.
    There are lots of story of wedding dresses I don’t know before.
    Miranda |

    August 19, 2019 at 5:22 am Reply
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