100 Years of Wedding Dresses: 1950s



As the world started to recover from World War II, the 1950s were marked by a post-war boom, the start of the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement in the United States.


Fashion was evolving with new ideas and new designers, most notably Christian Dior and his “The New Look” collection. After more resources were available in the market, he created voluminous dresses that would represent wealth and power and emphasised the hourglass shape for women.


Shopping became a big part of the lifestyle for women as more options became available, designers began using new and different materials that were available in a variety of colours and patterns, artificial fibres made it easier for clothes to be taken care of and were more cost-effective.


The popularity of Rock ‘n’ Roll music also had a massive impact on the fashion of the 1950s and the retro style of tea-length gowns, rockabilly swing dresses and tulle ballgowns are still popular today, especially amongst alternative brides.


The wedding dresses of the ‘50s became more about creating a fairytale look akin to beautiful Hollywood starlets like Grace Kelly, who married Prince Rainer III in 1956, in one of the most stylish weddings dresses which is still memorable over 60 years later.


The typical silhouette of the 1950s bridal gown is romantic and extreme, with a curvaceous bust and hips, cinched-in waist and a full, ballerina length skirt. The sweetheart neckline also became popular during this period thanks to Elizabeth Taylor in the original Father of the Bride film and gave the illusion of the shoulders looking bigger so that the bride’s waist looked smaller. Strapless gowns were also common and could be combined with a bolero jacket.


As previously mentioned, more fabric styles were available and more of it! Dresses were bigger with yards of fabric being used. Dresses were often tiered and Chantilly lace was popular. As were tulle, taffeta and brocade.


As well as traditional white and ivory, pastel shades such as buttercup, sky blue and blush, were also prevalent as colour photographs became more widespread.


In terms of accessories, there are numerous options such as headpieces like fascinators, short veils, birdcage veils and skull caps. Petticoats would be used for a fuller skirt look and gloves were commonly worn. Bouquets were large and consisted of locally grown seasonal flowers.


Make-up styles consisted of matte skin, red lips, black eyeliner and long lashes, once again inspired by Hollywood starlets such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. Hair was often worn short and with curls.


Image 1 & 2: Grace Kelly on her wedding day to Prince Rainier III in 1956

Image 3: Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

Image 4: A 1953 ad

Image 5: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957)



Feel free to get in touch if you have a question or want to talk about how I can help you plan your wedding by visiting leaholiviaweddings.com or email leah@leaholiviaweddings.com.


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Based in Somerset, UK and covering the rest of the South West, Leah Olivia Weddings provides wedding planning services to modern couples.

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