Through the decades

The Sun-Gazette recently asked readers to submit photos of wedding and bridesmaid dresses to see how styles have changed over the years.

We thought we would take a look back at some of the embarrassing cuts, colors and styles that dominated the chapel, but what we discovered was that people are incredibly attached to what they wore – and what it represented.

A bride treasures her wedding day and often dreams of the type of dress she will wear for the special occasion. But as fashion trends changed, so did wedding dress styles, as evident in the accompanying photos.

Around the turn of the 20th century, wedding dresses often featured a corset in the bodice and large, puffy sleeves. While white was still the color of choice for affluent brides, other brides opted to wear mauve or pale pink. High waists, high collars, long trains, long gloves and veiled hats also were in fashion, according to the editors at Wedding Essentials Magazine.

During the Depression, many brides could not afford expensive dresses, so they often wore the nicest dress they already owned. Wartime weddings often took place quickly and without much planning, so many brides were married in simple gowns or dress suits.

The ’60s and ’70s changed it all, with women doing what they wanted – whether it was wearing a mini-skirt, a short dress, bright colors or pantsuits. Trends in the ’70s were all over the place, from fairytale princess gowns to punk-influenced dresses. And then came the ’80s.

During this decade, cathedral trains, lace-edged frills, full-length veils and oversized bouquets made a comeback, possibly influenced by the July 29, 1981, wedding of Princess Diana that was televised and viewed by people around the world. Diana’s poufy dress had puffy sleeves, a frilly neckline and a 25-foot train – and became an icon of the decade.

The ’90s saw more curve-hugging gowns and simple dresses, possibly influenced by Carolyn Bessette’s Sept. 21, 1996, wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. Her pearl-colored silk crepe floor-length gown had a tulle silk veil and long silk gloves.

These days, more and more brides are favoring curve-hugging gowns, such as the mermaid style, along with pickup skirts, asymmetrical styles, empire waists, peplums, open back, princess and ball gown styles. But no matter what the style, most brides will look back on their wedding photos with fond memories of the day – and the dress.