Undermining Strapless Wedding Gowns

Inspired by Sally Lacock’s Bridal Wear and a Family Wedding

Leafing through an ancient photo album, I hit upon an old wedding photo, probably from around 1914. The party are ancestors of my great-grandpa’s, including his ma (who was a grinning child then), a few of his aunts and uncles and his grandparents. It was the wedding of his aunt Anna. Being a lover of historical fashion, I was particularly interested in their clothes and decoration. Most of the guests were wearing flowers (the girls even corollas) attached to their bodices, the women were to be seen in high-necked blouses and long, high-waist skirts, the men looked smashing in their black suits (and moustaches).

My Great-Great-Grandaunt Anna’s Wedding

It’s interesting how the style of the clothes isn’t exactly ‘à la mode’. The silhouette worn by the ladies reminds very much of 1910 and even the years before. Actually, from the early 1900s, the waistline was rising to reach an Empire-like style by the time the wedding took place. But the ladies in the photo are wearing their waist on the natural waistline, sticking to the outmoded fashion of the early 1900s. In fact, the women’s style reminds me a bit of the famous Gibson Girls (drawn by American artist Charles Dana Gibson for two decades, starting in the the early 1890s): high-waist skirts worn together with beautifully embroidered blouses. The collars of the latter are high and close to the neck, sometimes enhanced with a brooch or – in Anna’s case – a small bunch of flowers. The bride is also wearing a typically long veil and a headdress that wasn’t extremely fashionable anymore, but still not straightly old-fashioned.

BRIDE AND GROOM
Bride and Groom

And there’s another previous trend to be spotted, from 1910. On some blouses, there are bands which rise from the bodice to the shoulders (and possibly down the back bodice). They are called ‘bretelles’, simply the French expression for shoulder straps, and would be nicely ornamented. Anna, the bride, wears bretelles, as well as some of the guests. What we have here is a so-called ‘White Wedding’, which became popular from 1910. The bride, as well as the younger female guests, are wearing white or pastell coloured gowns or blouses.

BRETELLES
I’ve framed the bretelles (a chic French word for shoulder straps) on this guest’s dress.

The menswear is partly that of the late 19th century and early 1900s, as the narrow ties indicate. Also, the sleeves are a little outworn and the silhouettes quite wide. There’s also a young man in uniform, but I can’t tell what kind it is. There were also many children attending the wedding. All of them are dressed in a simple style that fits the late 19th century and 1900s. The wedding party consists of middle-class people who might not have been equipped with the latest fashion, but still made a very classy apperance, appropriate to their time and social standing.

I find it quite remarkable that none of the guests is wearing a hat exept from that funny short guy in the centre. There might be an explanation to that; it possibly was an act of decency and he decided not to take part in order to stay chic. But however, it doesn’t really spoil the photo and I find that one man extremely entertaining.

HAT
Naughty, are we?

Anyhow, the elegance of Edwardian fashion becomes visible in that wedding photo. I especially admire the style of one young woman who has her hair ornamented with a ribbon and wears a bright blouse and skirt. By the way, I’ve found a lovely video on YouTube which shows how to copy the updo some women in my photo are wearing:

HAIR
A Simple Coiffure

The delicate lace blouses and embroideries are definitely something to fall in love with. And being determined to undermine the modern trend to wear strapless wedding dresses with unattractive corsages, I’ve come across the most beautiful wedding gowns. They are designed by Sally Lacock who, as a progression from a career in design, launched her collection in 2010. It’s inspired by Edwardian bohemia and shows a range of lovely fabrics in antique hues, precious French lace, exquisite glass buttons and hand stitched flowers. The designer has achived the most admirable combination of vintage materials and a modern, youthful attitude.

Here are a few examples from the collection (I show them with Sally’s kind permission – Thank you again!):

Bea

BEA TOGETHER

Bea is a pretty addition to our much loved Edwardian bohemian inspired wedding dresses. This whimsical, soft, dreamy dress has an easy modern flattering fit with the feel of a precious vintage piece.

Mia

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MIA TOGETHER

Designed with the original Daisy Buchanan in mind this 1920s inspired style is our sophisticated and dreamy take on the Gatsby dress.

Emmeline

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Vintage Wedding Dress Collection

The Emmeline, a softly structured fitted gown inspired by an Edwardian afternoon dress, has been brought right up to date with modern proportions and detailing, whilst retaining an antique charm with it’s stunning French lace and elegant silhouette.

Violet

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This enchanting French lace dress has the feel of a well preserved antique garment from the early 1900s.

These are my personal favourites. Follow Sally Lacock:

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And also make sure to discover Cherished Vintage Accessoires – their accessoires were used to enhance Sally’s beautiful gowns.

Read about Weddings from the 1880s to 2000.

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