100 Years of Wedding Dresses: 1970s

The 1970s were an era of change. In a continuation of the 1960s, women, people of colour, the LGBT community and other marginalised people continued to fight for equality, but in contrast economic upheavals following the post-war economic boom, the energy crisis and the ongoing Vietnam War fought for the world's attention.

This decade was also known as the “me decade”, coined by novelist Tom Wolfe, the term describes the move to individualism and away from communitarianism.

This individualism also translated to fashion, with Vogue in the early 1970s, stating “There are no rules in the fashion game now” as cheap synthetic fabrics increased production.

Wedding dresses in the early 1970s carried on from where the 1960s left, with a mix of styles from bohemian influenced by musicians such as Stevie Nicks and festivals such as Woodstock to more traditional looks. Throughout the decade, wedding dress fashion transitioned into several different looks such as the trouser suit made popular by Bianca Jagger in her wedding to Mick Jagger in 1971, but by 1979 the free-spirited look became old fashioned and dresses became larger and fuller paving the way for the 1980s.

Although wedding dress designers had existed for decades before the 1970s, in this decade, it became big business with bridal magazines and silhouettes being designed that are still popular today. In order to achieve the unique style desired by brides, custom designs would be created by the bride, her mother and the dressmaker.

The bohemian styles of the early 1970s would be long and floaty with wide, romantic sleeves that would flow down to the forearm. Dresses were often high-necked and square and would feature modest front bibs that would contrast with the skirt or sleeves which would sometimes be sheer. As throughout history, royal weddings would have an influence on fashion and Princess Anne’s to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973 where she wore a high neckline is an example of this. Empire waists were also popular.

Synthetic fabrics allowed dressmakers to create designs that drape beautifully but are also fine enough to be light and flowing. Layers of polyester chiffon would create large capes and handkerchief-edged details. Trains would be bustled and some gowns would feature a “dust ruffle” that would encircle the hem about 12 inches above it.

Make-up styles in the 1970s sat either side of the spectrum with natural, subtle make-up on the one side to a 1920s revival of statement eyes and bold lip colours on the other. However, in contrast to the 1920s, tanned skin was popular.

In terms of hair, Farrah Fawcett was the style icon, and hair would be worn long and cascading.

Bouquets would feature lots of bright, loud and contrasting colours.

Image 1: Bianca Jagger on her wedding day to Mick Jagger in 1971

Image 2: Princess Anne on her wedding day to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973

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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