Beyond the Veil: A Brief History Of Wedding Fashion

For today’s blog, we are going to pass you over to Beth (aka Madame B) Paton of Madame B’s Boutique

As an avid vintage collector and fashion history nerd, I love to see how fashions have changed and evolved over time. When it comes to wedding fashion, certain things have stayed constant (floral motifs, lace, variations on every possible shade of white and ivory). However, there are still trends that come and go. I’ve been taking a milliner’s look at the evolution of wedding headwear, and this is what I’ve found…



1920s: Wedding dresses were of a looser, simpler cut than in previous decades, but veils and headpieces were very elaborate. Crowns of wax or silk flowers were very popular. These were often combined with juliet cap veils that fitted close to the head, embellished with plenty of lace and embroidery. This also suited the newly fashionable bobbed hairstyles.


Attibute to BiblioArchibes/LibraryArchives

1930s: This era of romance and Hollywood glamour favoured long, bias cut gowns in silk, satin and lace. Cathedral length veils with long trains were created to match (think Maria von Trapp in the Sound of Music). Wide brimmed hats with shallow crowns, lavishly trimmed with feathers and flowers, were also a popular choice.



1940s: Wartime brought fabric rationing, so wedding outfits had to be less extravagant. Women in the services often wore their uniforms, while others patched up their Sunday best for their weddings. The finishing touch was a small perching hat, subtly trimmed with ribbon or a few feathers.




1950s: Rationing ended and the fashion industry celebrated by creating the New Look; dresses with nipped in waists and long, full skirts augmented with layers of petticoats. Longer, fuller veils with plenty of lace and embellishment were created to match. This decade also saw the rise of the blusher and birdcage veils, which covered the face. These could either be attached to a longer veil or to a chic pillbox hat.

Attribute to Jennifer Silverman

1960s: As hemlines grew shorter, veils were also shortened. Volume replaced length, with shoulder length veils in multiple layers of tulle, billowing outwards from an embellished hairband or comb. This paired well with the big, beehive hairstyles that were in fashion. Pillbox hats with birdcage veils were also still a popular choice.



Attribute to Muffinn

1970s: The romantic, hippie aesthetic had a strong influence on wedding fashion in this decade. Dresses and veils were long and flowing, and nostalgic details such as the juliet cap became popular again. Rustic, pastoral themes were in style, and veils were often paired with crowns of fresh flowers.


Attribute to Ion Chibzii

1980s: The decade of excess saw a return of the voluminous veil to match the big, bouffant hairstyles of the day. Heavy embellishment was also popular, with lace, pearls and anything sparkly. Elaborate crowns of silk or fresh flowers were used to add colour and volume.


Today, we’re very lucky to be able to pick and choose our favourite styles from any of these decades. Here are a few of my own takes on vintage wedding styles:









If you would like more helpful information on planning a vintage wedding, check out my free e-book!


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Say hello to Madam B’s Boutique at our fair on Sunday 11th September 2016: