Wedding dress styles vary over time

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    By Alison Dickson

    The style of the dress a bride wears is one of the biggest and most challenging decisions she makes about her wedding.

    There are full-skirted princess-style dresses, or slimmer, fitting more sophisticated ones.

    A bride may choose from floor-length to tea-length, long-sleeved to short-sleeved and decides on buttons or beads.

    Over the years brides have tried on and re-tried on dress after dress. Though the bride”s worry and trauma have stayed the same, the dresses haven”t.

    There were times when white wasn”t even the color of choice and a mini skirt would have been completely appropriate and fashionable to walk down the aisle.

    The wedding dress, as recognized today, started its development in 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white dress for her wedding. Up until that time, women had wed in dresses of all colors, said Stacy Okun of Town and Country.

    Through the next century women explored variations of styles and ended with what are seen on brides today — everything. Unlike the past hundred years, the modern bride looks to her own taste when choosing a dress.

    Professor Mary Farahnakian, a costume design teacher in the Theatre and Media Arts department, said that today”s woman is looking for something “unique instead of following the fashion.”

    Okun wrote, “The modern bride realizes her own fashion fantasies through her wedding dress.” Unfortunately, women of times past used guidelines which were much more strict than today”s.

    In the early 1900s, a bride would have followed the fashions of the Victorian Era and worn long, full dresses with tightly fitted jackets and high necklines.

    A short time later, women were freed from the corset. Then they moved on to loose-fitting, shapeless dresses. During this time, hemlines boldly moved above the ankle and the wedding dress began to evolve.

    A few years later, designers like Coco Chanel introduced a short tunic-style dress worn with a long veil, according to an article by Chris Proskocil in the Omaha World-Herald.

    During World War II, rationing made homemade dresses acceptable among all social classes and bridal petticoats were often recycled parachutes, Proskocil said.

    By the 1950s femininity was back in style. Skirts flowed, and the woman was again a symbol of gentility.

    These styles were quickly smothered by free love and the release of the woman”s spirit. Cotton smocks replaced satin ball gowns in chapels across the country, and mini skirts made their entrance into the world of bridal attire.

    Eventually, in the 1980s, wedding dress styles looked back a century for inspiration. The Victorian style returned, as did all its pomp. Dresses were made with every type of ornamentation and brides spared no expense, Okun wrote.

    From the 1990s to the present, brides have begun to take matters into their own hands and choose dresses according to their personal taste, rather than conforming to timely fashions.

    Farahnakian said simple lines instead of complex patterns are preferred, and the quality of the dress is more important than the immensity of it.

    She also said women today chose dresses which are, “not like dresses of the past that stayed in boxes,” but are more versatile.

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