Unlike a good cocktail dress, which is designed to be a workhorse in a woman’s wardrobe, a white or cream-colored wedding dress need only dazzle its audience once. Unless, of course, it's a used wedding dress, either passed down from a beloved relative or picked up at auction or from a favorite vintage shop.

The trend for white wedding dresses started in 1840, with the union of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Prior to Victoria's wedding, most brides wore whatever fashionable hue they wanted, since they were likely to wear the dress on other occasions. Breaking with tradition, Victoria selected an elaborate white dress featuring a long train, a bridal veil, and a crown of white blossoms. Victoria's choice of white was viewed as quite conservative since it was historically the color for mourning (decades later, Victoria would make black the defacto mourning color when her beloved Albert died). However, mass-media coverage of her wedding made her style an instant sensation, influencing brides to this day.

At the beginning of the 20th century, with the Belle Epoque in full swing, Edwardian brides were cinched into tight corsets, which were covered with wedding dresses made out of chiffon, lace, and taffeta. But by World War I, the practice of squeezing women into hourglass shapes was giving way to more natural looks. After the war, wedding dress hemlines had crept far enough off the ground to reveal a bride’s ankle.

Hemlines continued to rise throughout the 1920s, producing wedding dresses that were relatively revealing in the front with a flowing train in the back. Dresses got long again in the ’30s, were generally straight, and for the first time were equipped with a detachable train, which allowed a bride to take her solemn walk down the aisle but then cut a rug on the dance floor after.

The 1940s was a schizophrenic decade when it came to fashion, and wedding dresses were no exception. During the war years, wedding gowns followed the overall trend of boxy, broad shouldered, military silhouettes. By the late ’40s, though, all bets were off as miles of previously rationed fabrics were lavished on wedding dresses and gowns. In some cases, wedding dresses were even made from silk salvaged from surplus parachutes.

Wedding dresses returned to full femininity again in the 1950s, with tight waists and full skirts below. Sleeve styles ranged from full length to almost none at all, while necks could be left open or collared. These varied looks remained consistent into the next decade, except for those adventurous brides who chose to be married in short numbers that ended well above their knees. By the 1970s, some women dispensed with the wedding dress altogether, trading tradition for the sophisticated look of an Yves Saint Laurent white tuxedo-jacket suit.

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Recent News: Wedding Dresses

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This Prairie Wedding Will Make You Want to Read Laura Ingalls Wilder Again
POPSUGAR, February 9th

If you're all about old-school Little House on the Prairie vibes, the photos of this rustic wedding will speak to you on so many levels. Photographer Clint Bargen captured the special moments of his little sister Linnea's (very) vintage wedding. "The...Read more

Photo gallery: The Hobbs Show 2016
Bristol24/7, February 7th

Dozens of models took to the catwalk wearing a variety of upcycled clothes, designer bags, antique Japanese kimonos, vintage wedding dresses and swimwear. The evening was a celebration of local fashion designers, retailers, musicians and artists, with...Read more

Vintage wedding exhibition/ 'I had fallen in love and nothing else mattered'
Western Morning News, February 4th

Vintage wedding exhibition/ 'I had fallen in love and nothing else mattered'. By WMNHFinch | Posted: February 04, 2016. Left: Maureen Squire nee Crichton-Brown with Claude on February 17, 1959 at St. James the Less Church, Lancing, Sussex...Read more

Vintage wedding fayre comes to The Royal in Sutton Coldfield
Sutton Coldfield Observer, February 2nd

BRIDES-to-be looking for some vintage inspiration for their big day will be able to pick up ideas at a special event in Sutton Coldfield later this month. Vintage vibes will be unveiled at The Royal Wedding Fayre, which takes place on Sunday, February 21...Read more

Vintage Fforde: 'A Vintage Wedding'
Examiner.com, January 31st

One of the great things about browsing for books online is that it's remarkably easy to order a copy of a book by a favorite author that has not yet been published in this country. Katie Fforde's “A Vintage Wedding,” a # 1 Sunday Times bestseller is a...Read more

Vintage wedding dresses on exhibit in Murfreesboro
WKRN.com, January 28th

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – A special exhibit featuring wedding dresses from every decade is on display at Oaklands Mansion in Rutherford County. Visitors can see over fifty gowns from Middle Tennessee and across the country at “Wedding ...Read more

7 Ways To Make Your Mother's Wedding Dress Completely Your Own
Bustle, January 17th

During college, I attended an incredible vintage fair in London where I snagged the most beautifully horrific vintage wedding dress for very little money. My friend, who was studying fashion design at the time, took one look at it and snipped it to...Read more

Wedding favor ideas for your guests
Elko Daily Free Press, January 14th

You could also consider giving bath salts or shell-shaped soaps for a nautical theme, or rose potpourris for a vintage wedding. Decorative favors. A magnet for the fridge, coasters, photos, or snow globes: think traditional souvenir trinkets. They'll...Read more