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When Did White Wedding Dresses Become Popular?

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Before the 19th century, it was traditional for the bride to wear her favorite attire. There was no color specification as they could wear any color they preferred.

Brides used to wear any dress that they felt they could reuse later. Some colors that brides usually wore included brown, red, russet, and the like. Besides this, there was no particular notion of having a unique dress for the event.

However, the game’s mantra was still the same – the more prosperous the girl, the fancier her dress. Some even wore lush gowns with silver and gold embroidery on them. Given that they would wear these gowns again, making it somewhat worth the investment. So, when did white dresses actually become popular?

When Did White Wedding Dresses Become Popular?

It was Queen Victoria who initiated the trend of white bridal dress in 1840. After this, it started gaining popularity. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, it was one of the first royal weddings that gained a lot of paparazzi. She decided to wear a white dress with Honiton lace as her aim was to aid the struggling factory manufacturing this fabric. 

Not only this, but she also chose a flower crown instead of a jeweled tiara. She wanted to create an image that she would be a very considerate and down-to-earth queen. People could not help but notice her unique style when her photos were published and shared worldwide.

Brides at that time followed her trademark style. Soon, it became a wildly popular trend, and most brides started choosing white for their wedding dresses.

As another fun fact: Photography also had an impact on white wedding dresses becoming popular! As it became a trend to have wedding photos taken, it was discovered that white dresses “popped” more in black and white photos, compared to colored dresses which looked dull. So, more brides began opting for white dresses!

White Wedding Dresses Became A Status Symbol

During this time, the white wedding dress also became a status symbol. The brides who copied the trend initiated by the Queen were considered to come from a wealthy background. It was thought that these brides could afford to get their white gowns cleaned after the wedding, which was why they chose white.

Color Psychology and its Impact on Dresses

Colors have always been presumed to leave a huge impact on perceptions. Recently, color psychology has made its way into academics, and we understand how different colors can lead to creating different opinions.

This was a subtle notion in Western societies during the 19th century. The color white was linked with purity, and many brides wore white dresses. However, unlike the current association of white with purity, the color blue was the one that was associated with piety and faithfulness.

Gradually, white started to denote purity as it became more popular. And even though most people associated white with purity, many brides still went for other shades because white required high maintenance. Luckily today, it’s much easier to clean and steam wedding dresses, and if you’re traveling with your dress, there are garment bags you can use to keep it in good shape.

Mass Popularity of White Wedding Dresses After World War II

After World War II, white dresses became mainstream for weddings. The middle class was still not opting for white-colored dresses. It was after World War II that their ideologies started to change.

During the war period, it was harder to access fancy fabric. Many people were living under the poverty belt. The luxury white fabric was replaced by ordinary fabric in various colors. Some even chose to get their wedding dresses made from parachute silk.

It was after the war that the trends reversed. Tea-length wedding gowns became famous during this period, and styles by fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn were making them even more appealing. 

It was also when long wedding gowns were making their way back into fashion. The white wedding dress snapped back into trend when Princess Diana flaunted her royal ivory lace gown. And it has been here for a long time now!

White Wedding Dresses Don’t Extend into the Eastern Culture

When discussing the white wedding dress, know that it is the color preferred in the west. The cultural discrepancies in the Eastern part of the world dictate different color tones for the brides. Brides in European and American cultures are those who opt for white as their wedding dress. 

The perception of the white color is unlike the Western world. People in the East often consider white as the color associated with an unlucky charm.

Red is the color that is preferred for wedding dresses in Asian cultures, such as India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, African brides integrate bright colors in their wedding attire, as determined by trends.

Other Colors Seen in Bridal Attire

The choice of color depends upon your preferences and the wedding theme. Although most designers focus on the white range of wedding dresses, it is not the only choice. In fact, we have noticed colors such as pink, blue, gold, and gray worn by the brides. Some celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Jessica Parker opted for non-white wedding dresses.

Despite its long history, choosing a white wedding dress is not always necessary. Sometimes, women prefer to choose a colored dress because white is not the most slimming color, and they feel more comfortable in darker shades.

For example, if you are an apple or pear shaped bride, or you are trying to reduce the appearance of your larger breasts in a wedding dress, selecting an off-white color and less flashy material will help not to draw as much attention to your chest and waist. On the other hand, bright white dresses are great for smaller chests, especially if you want it to appear a bit larger.

There are also several off-white dress options that can work well if you have pale skin and don’t love the look of an actual white colored dress on yourself.

Related Questions

What Was the Original Color of a Wedding Dress?

Originally, wedding dresses were a variety of colors, including gold, blue, and red. It was also common for dresses to have patterns or designs.

What Cultures Don’t Wear White Wedding Dresses?

Not all cultures have brides wear white wedding dresses, such as Eastern cultures. For example, Indian, Vietnamese, and Chinese brides will traditionally wear red or other bold colors with ornate designs.

What Do You Wear Under a White Wedding Dress?

Generally, you should be able to wear normal undergarments like strapless bras under white wedding dresses. If the dress material is thin, you might consider wearing shapewear or Spanx under your outfit for an extra layer.

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that the white wedding dress has remained a constant trend for brides. Wedding Wire reported that 82% of the brides still opt for white as their wedding dress color. The famous wedding dress designer Vera Wang states:

“A white wedding gown represents far more than just a dress. It is also the embodiment of a dream.”

Vera Wang

Over time, the preferences of brides have changed, and many fashions have passed. So, when you are looking for an ideal wedding dress, don’t hesitate to follow the trends or go beyond them!

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