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How have wedding dresses changed over time

There are some types of dresses which will always be popular, and each bride has a preference when choosing her own. However, the style of wedding dresses has changed and evolved over time. The different eras have affected people’s choice of dress and different decades boast different features.

Early dresses

The idea of a wedding dress can be traced back as early as 1406, however, they weren’t always white. Red was a popular choice as it symbolises sexuality and fertility, but besides this, it tended to be the bride’s best clothes. Queen Victoria sparked off the white dress trend in 1840 when she married Prince Albert in a stunning white number. Since then, brides everywhere have opted for the classic white dress. It could be speculated that the white dress grew in popularity due to its subtle symbolism of purity, an ideal trait for a bride back in the day.


As dresses developed, they still tended to be very modest. The skirt was long although the sleeves got shorter, and the bride sported a high neckline. Puffy sleeves and layers also tended to be very popular at the beginning of the 19th century, along with ruffles and long veils.

As the ’20s approached, the long veil remained to be very popular. As the age of the flapper girls dawned, the dresses began to get slightly more risqué. Calves and ankles were revealed as well as a lower neckline. Heavier make up was applied and the bride would carry a big bouquet of flowers. Juliet caps, made of a woven material and often decorated with pearls and jewellery, became very popular in the ’20s.


During the war, there were obviously few supplies for fancy wedding dresses. Brides in this time tended to make their own dresses and share them with family members. The dresses were elegant and simple, and so was the makeup. A V line dress with long sleeves was the popular style, and silk was used for those who could afford it. Brides in the 40’s liked a shapelier look as corsets and padded hips were all the rage.

Once the war was over, people were free to become more extravagant. This is where a more ball gown style came into play with an hourglass shape. A shorter veil was preferred, and this was the beginning of the strapless trend. Although, not everyone braved this as it was still considered slightly racy. Whereas previously long dresses were very popular, the 60’s introduced miniskirts with a bouffant style.

The 80’s

In true 80’s style, this was the era when wedding dress style was over the top. Think big shoulder pads and puffy, bouffant style skirts. Long veils came back into fashion and hair and makeup was voluminous. This is quite contrary to the next decade which changed to a very simple style. Minimal make became popular again and slinky, straight dresses were all the rage.


In recent years wedding dresses have become fairly diverse. Features from all the eras remain very popular with brides. The elegant strapless dress has been a staple for a while, along with long veils. Mermaid and bouffant style skirts are ever-popular, paired with lace and sheer cutouts.

If you’re looking to tie the knot and need the perfect wedding venues in Oxfordshire, look no further than Milton Hill House. Get in contact with our friendly team today for more information.

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