Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1950's

Photo from HARRY NG

There is a common saying that if you wait long enough, a certain style or look will come back into fashion. The same can be said of wedding dresses. Many current bridal fashions are merely borrowing something old to make look new yet again.

Vintage inspired weddings call for gowns that hark back to these bygone eras. They provide a unique look that is still unquestionably timeless.

If you are thinking of having a vintage style wedding, you need to make certain that your wedding dress also reflects the past. You want to have that old-world feel without the dust. At the same time, your gown must effortlessly blend into your vintage wedding venue.

Rather than buying vintage, we have outlined wedding looks and styles from the 1920s through the 1970s. Elements from each era have made their way back into bridal fashions so that you can have your new dress, but also with vintage touches.

1920s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1920's

Photo from Maegan Tintari

One of the latest trends in bridal fashion is actually not all that current. Many bridal designers are embracing the Jazz Age, creating looks that are positively Gatsby or Downton Abbey for the bride’s big day. The 1920s signaled a change in women’s fashion. Waistlines dropped significantly and hemlines rose. More beading and embellishments were featured.

For the bride looking to emulate this era, they should seek gowns with straighter silhouettes. The princess ball gown is the opposite of the 1920s gown. Brides should also shop for dresses with beading and embellishments. Silk stain finishes also hark back to the 1920s.

Brides wanting to mirror this era should do so with a bit of caution. You don’t want to look the part of a flapper exactly as this will come off as a bit too costume-like. You can borrow elements from this time, selecting dresses with one definitely 20s note such as a plunging back, high neckline, feathers or Art Deco and geometric patterns.


1930s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1930's

Photo from flippinyank

In the full swing of the Depression, wedding gowns in the 1930s became much more simple than the previous decade. However, the 1930s did have elements of the 1920s, perhaps turned down a few notches. Brides looking for a 1930s inspired gown should focus on the necklines. In the 1930s, more gowns embraced halter and cowl-necklines.

While there wasn’t a lot of money to spend in this era with the Great Depression going on, brides did begin to welcome sleeker, figure-hugging wedding dresses. The bride of today can also borrow these 1930s elements for their own wedding dress.

1940s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1940's

Photo from Herry Lawford

For the bride looking for a vintage inspired wedding dress from the 1940s, she should seek out a more pronounced silhouette from the 1920s and 1930s. Gowns with sleeves hark back to the 1940s. Weddings in the 1940s were often quick and unexpected due to the war.

As my own grandmother tells me of her 1943 wedding, there were two options for bridal gowns at the store. You either picked one or the other. Wedding gowns today have subtly embraced 1940s haste with rounded shoulders, cinched in waists and gathered sleeves. Also the 1940s bride reminds the brides of today to keep it simple with their wedding dress shopping. You don’t need to try on 100 dresses after all. Imagine if you just had two choices.

1950s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1950's

Photo from HARRY NG

Today’s brides have plenty of inspiring ladies to look to emulate the 1950s wedding gown. Wedding dresses in this era were heavily influenced by the likes of Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy. Gowns from the 1950s embraced all things glamorous, fun and flirty. Skirts became fuller with an A-line. Waists were gathered and necklines were generally boat-neck or V-neck. Grace Kelley’s wedding dress introduced the idea of a sweetheart neckline beneath lace sleeves.

The bride of today can easily find gowns inspired by the 1950s by seeking off the shoulder cap sleeve gowns like Jackie Kennedy or even sweetheart necklines popularized by Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride. If you merely want to mimic one element to the 1950s gown for your vintage affair, a fuller skirt is always reminiscent of the era.

1960s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1960's

Photo from Pronovias

The wedding dresses of the 1950s blend into the 1960s, but do showcase a few differences. More lace was used in the 1960s along with sheath and shift dresses. Wedding dresses tended to sport higher waists and even mod touches. For the bride looking for a style icon to emulate for her vintage 1960s inspired wedding, she need look no farther than Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

1970s --

Vintage Wedding Dresses: 1970's

Photo from EF Photography

Brides looking for a more relaxed era to use as inspiration for their vintage wedding dress should turn to the 1970s. It wasn’t all bell-bottoms and avocado green. In the 1970s, wedding gowns didn’t have one set style but they did become more bohemian and whimsical. Lots of layered lace was also a staple for wedding gowns from the 1970s. Gowns took on a more empire waist styles and almost always had sleeves.

Wedding dresses were also defined by that time as looking decidedly Victorian in inspiration. The bride of today can used the 1970s as an inspiration for their gown by seeking out more relaxed gowns or even those inspired by Victorian times with lots of lace and detailing.

Bottom Line

Vintage Wedding Dresses from all eras

Photo from iamtheo

While you can emulate these eras and others in your wedding dress, the important thing is to not look like you are dressed up for Halloween on your wedding day. You don’t want to confuse your guests that you invited them to a costume party rather than your wedding.

A vintage wedding is so special in that it combines the present with the past through subtle timeless touches. By selecting a bridal gown that keeps the past in mind but doesn’t mirror it exactly, you will have the perfect look to pull off your vintage style wedding.

Your Turn…

Was your wedding dress inspired by a certain era?  Share your ideas for wedding dresses with influences from bygone eras in the comments below...