How Wedding Dresses Have Changed Over Time

wedding dress

As any bride will tell you, there are many things to consider when shopping for the wedding dress of your dreams. There’s the style, the fit and even the color. But the most important factor is how it will look on you. And while there are generalities you can rely on to flatter most people, your personal style is ultimately what’s going to make the biggest difference.

That’s why it’s always so exciting to see the latest wedding dresses on fashion show runways. And it’s no secret that Vera Wang is king of the bridal game when it comes to strapless, figure-hugging gowns. But what makes this style so special is that it’s not only flattering for almost any body type but also perfectly reflects the mood of your big day.

Like most women’s clothes, the wedding dress has evolved over time. With each era comes a new set of trends and styles that reflect the broader context of that era’s culture and economy. During times of war or economic stress, for example, brides opted for less expensive fabrics that were more practical and comfortable.

In modern times, it’s become customary for the bride to choose a white wedding dress as the symbol of purity and virginity. But this wasn’t the case until 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in a white gown with a cinched waist and voluminous skirt. Prior to that, wealthy European brides often wore gold or blue dresses—or, in the case of middle-class women, whatever color their best dress happened to be.

Then, as we moved into the post-war era of prosperity and glamour, designers began to elongate the hemlines of their gowns. This was partly due to changing sensibilities and the popularity of movies and TV shows that showed women marching through the theater in pristine, white princess gowns. But it was also a cost-saving measure that allowed middle-class women to purchase opulent wedding gowns with beautifully detailed bodices and much shorter skirts than the traditional full ballgown.

Today, hemlines are still changing, but for the most part, it’s for functional reasons. Shorter trains, such as Watteau and sweep trains, barely graze the floor, which can help you move more freely at your reception. And then there are detachable trains, which are fastened to the back of your skirt with buttons or hooks and can be removed for a more casual look.

Necklines are also evolving, with v-necks, sweetheart necklines and scoop necks all making a comeback. In recent years, off the shoulder necklines have been popular because they offer a little bit of coverage while showing off your shoulders and collarbones. And, of course, there are those that don’t have a waistline at all, such as sheath and slip dresses, which skim the body and allow you to show off your figure without adding extra fabric.

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