100 Years of Wedding Dresses: 1960s

The 1960s was also known as the ‘Swinging Sixties’ due to the rise of various genres of music, from folk to the Beatles revolution to Bob Dylan, and massive social change with the relaxation of taboos and rise of groups such as ‘hippies’ and ‘rockers’.

By the end of the 1950s, Europe had pretty much recovered from World War II and many working-class people in Western Europe could now afford luxuries like cars and televisions. In the East, the Soviet Union was also recovering quickly, but the 1960s were dominated by the Space Race between them and the United States.

Fashions changed more from 1960 to 1969 than perhaps during any other period in history. The hippie movement had a big influence with bell-bottom jeans, tie-dye and paisley prints. The mini-skirt was invented and became one of the strongest fashion rages up until the ‘70s and then reappearing in the mid-1980s. Men’s fashion was dominated by The Beatles influence.

Brides of the 1960s celebrated the end of The Great Depression and wartime austerity by going large with their wedding dress styles. Royal weddings once again dominated fashion choices for brides, with Princess Margaret marrying in 1960 and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1966.

The silhouettes of the 1960s became more fun as the decade progressed. Dior’s ‘New Look’ silhouette was still popular but elements of the new decade were emerging, hemlines got shorter, waistlines rose and skirts narrowed. Tea dress and swing dress styles remained but with shorter hemlines, streamlined seams and no sleeves. The new shift dress and baby doll style made it into wedding fashion, although the long wedding dress still remained but with more of a straight column shape and empire waistline. However, necklines were still modest and kept fairly high.

As hemlines became shorter and minidress reigned supreme, trains also became shorter and then eventually weren’t worn at all.

Embellishments became really popular, in particular metallic details and daisies. As the 1960s were the decade of the ‘space-age’, metallic became a trend. Daisies were popular everywhere and could be seen in bouquets and on dresses in lace overlays.

White was still widely worn and traditional but a few alternative brides would go for floral prints or pastels.

Veils were still common and shorter in length but more voluminous alongside the teased and large hairstyles that were on trend. Tiaras became more fashionable due to the royal weddings that took place in the 1960s and hats were also popular – in particular pillbox and floppy hats.

Jewellery was on the decline as it was seen as outdated and frumpy.

Make-up was heavy with lots of black eyeliner and oversized false eyelashes, blue and green were popular for eyes and frosted pink for lips.

At the start of the decade, hairstyles were big and worn in a bouffant, bird’s nest or chignon style these then moved into the short pixie cut style that was popularised by model Twiggy and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

The florals chosen for bouquets were small and elegant or wild and unpolished and the bouquets themselves were smaller, as previously mentioned daisies were widely popular.

Image 1: Princess Margaret on her wedding day to Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960

Image 2: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands on her wedding day to Claus von Amsberg in 1966

Image 3: A mid-1960s dress with pillbox hat

Image 4: Priscilla Beaulieu on her wedding day to Elvis Presley in 1967

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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