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Meena Reine
Community Member
Wedding Dresses
Throughout the nineteenth century, the style of clothing had changed greatly. A fantastic example of this would be the wedding dress. Today, we all picture a flowing, white gown, complete with a beautiful veil and train. However, most of these attributes of the dress were completely changed – or even removed – all throughout the nineteenth century.

During the years eighteen hundred to eighteen twenty, the wedding dress looked very different than the one we picture in our head. Contrary to what we knew about this era, no corset was worn. Instead, the dress was tight with a high waistline and low neckline, and the skirt ended in a long train. Additionally, it had a little stuffed pad sewed into the inside to prevent the skirt from falling into the curve of the back. A fad of the time was to wear, underneath the skirt, a small bustle, which was to be worn high up in the dress' back.

The thirty years between eighteen twenty and eighteen fifty created a whole new style. Compared to the years before, the dresses were “overdone” with beads, ribbons, and lace. Women opted for a more angular appearance, thus introducing the corset back into their lives. The dresses also had full sleeves and skirts. However, not only did the dress itself become more elegant, but the hairstyles did, too.

A new word came about during this period in time - “frock”. This word referred to wedding dresses without trains. Only a few dresses during this time were not frocks.

A ten year interval marked the halfway point of the century, from eighteen fifty to eighteen sixty. The skirt blossomed outwards and became voluminous. It was common for a couple dozen yards of fabric to be used just on the bottom part of the dress.

An important new aspect of this clothing style was that the hoop-skirt and cage crinoline were both used to help the skirt to reach the widest it could be. The fashion was largely popular, but as with all dramatic fads, it only stayed for a short while.

The eighteen seventies to eighteen nineties gave a whole new feeling to the wedding ceremony. Now, it felt as though there was a much larger audience, and you were the one on stage. The style of the dress gave a dramatic sense to the occasion and made it something to remember – not just for the couple, but for the entire congregation as well.

In this time period, the skirt, with all its wondrous details and decorations, became complete with a long, dramatic train. Unlike fifty years before, the “frocks” became uncommon and were not in style anymore.

The hairstyles were elaborate – much more than any time before. They added to the sensation as though the people involved in the wedding ceremony were performing a show.

The dresses were carefully made with very beautiful, intricate designs covering the entirety of them. Because of this, the wedding gowns during this time period were outrageously expensive. This fact often led to the bride keeping her dress for the rest of her life, possibly to give to her daughters when they were to be wed.

During eighteen ninety six, sleeves ballooned out to their fullest. With the combination of the huge skirts and puffy sleeves, a true hourglass shape was formed. To make the shape even more accented, the hair was fancily swept up into a dainty style to make the face look smaller.

Throughout the entire nineteenth century, a glaring difference between the style then and our imagination now was that the color of the wedding dresses was not always white. Lots of times, there were beige, tan, lavender, blue, and green gowns. A conventional color used very often for the dress was black.

Black wedding dresses were in style during the entire century, and while usually thought of to be just for brides mourning the lost of a loved relative or close friend, were not really all that uncommon, and were used almost as much as white wedding dresses.

Throughout the nineteenth century, the style of wedding dresses had had a great change. From decade to decade, the shirts were thin and then grew large. The styles changed during those one hundred years, as they did in the hundred years before and after that time. Even during modern times, the fashion will always continue to change as time goes by and new clothing style ideas are introduced.

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