If you're into vintage styles, there's no better way to show off your classic personality on your big day than with a 1950s wedding dress. White and traditional in style in most cases, you'll look the part of a modest, innocent bride.
1950s Wedding Dress Style
The 1950s weren't about showing a lot of skin. Compared to some of the wedding dresses from today, 1950s wedding dresses were extremely modest. They tended to be of traditional length with sleeves, a not-too-low neckline, and few embellishments.
Ultra-feminine styles were the "in" thing in the 1950s, so the wedding dresses reflected that notion. Thanks to Dior and a lifted restriction on fabric usage now that World War II was over, wedding dresses took on full skirts, rounded shoulders, a very emphasized waist, a bodice with "pointed bosom," and they were worn with tall, thin heels.
Another incredibly feminine characteristic of the wedding gowns was lace. French lace was all the rage, symbolizing freedom from the war. Brides could celebrate the manufacture of lace again after Hitler's terror. Tiers upon tiers of chantilly lace were not uncommon.
As you can tell by looking at celebrities from that era, the hourglass figure was big. Hoop skirts, crinolines, and other techniques were used to play it up. One other difference-a technical one rather than a visible style-was the metal zipper positioned in the back of the dress.
A few other looks that made their way into the wedding dresses of the 1950s:
- Upstanding gothic style collars
- Lace boleros on top of a strapless dress (opaque ones became popular later in the decade)
- Ankle-length styles rather than floor-length
- Flutter hems
- Layered materials
- Three-quarter or long sleeves with a wedding point
- Scooped neckline
- Dropped hemline (late '50s)
- Stiffer, more opaque fabric than the chantilly lace of earlier in the decade (late '50s)
Find Your 1950s Style Dress
Vintage Vixen has a 1953 Winter White Velvet Wedding Gown with Beaded Lace and Veil for $325. It's in excellent condition and would be the perfect dress for a Christmas ceremony. There's enough material to keep you warm, plus it's velvet and winter white so it screams for a December or January wedding.
Another style available at Vintage Vixen is the "Wedding Cake" Bridal Gown with Chantilly Lace Tiers. It's available for $195 and is more suitable for a spring wedding due to the material and the sleeveless style of the dress.
Retro Dress is another one of those gems online where you can find vintage styles. You can see the perfect example of a 1950s wedding dress if you look at the Saks Fifth Avenue Ivory Silk Wedding Gown on the website. Unfortunately, that one has been sold. However, you can still purchase the beautiful Ivory Satin and Alençon Lace Gown for $425, and other styles may be forthcoming.
Vintage Wedding has a few dresses to choose from, with prices ranging from $175 to $350. All the styles of the 1950s are fairly represented on the site. There's the traditional, Victorian style, the tea length skirt, and the style with layers of lace and wedding points.
As with everything vintage, eBay is a good spot to look for a wedding dress.
One Downside to Vintage Wedding Dresses
Often, when you find a vintage wedding dress, it's all a matter of luck as to whether it's your size or not. You won't be able to select your own measurements from a drop-down menu and place a custom order. In some cases, alterations can be made, but if a dress is too small, that makes it more difficult. So in some cases, you can enlist the services of a seamstress; other cases won't allow it.
One thing to consider is finding an old 1950s wedding dress pattern and fashioning your own dress from that. To find one, try Tias.com or a custom bridal shop.
There's hope out there if you really want to have a 1950s-themed wedding or if you just want to wear a vintage dress from that specific decade. Dig around online for an actual dress, or search for the pattern and enlist the help of your friends to recreate a romantic, elegant era and all its gorgeous attire.