100 Years of Wedding Dresses: 1980s



The 1980s saw major socioeconomic changes across the world due to advances in technology. MTV was launched and music videos had an effect not only on the music industry but wider popular culture, in particular fashion. Fashion became more and more extravagant as the decade moved on.


Once again it was royal weddings that really set the tone for wedding dress fashion, but this time it was the one that was dubbed as ‘the wedding on the century’ – the wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles in 1981 at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The wedding was watched by an astounding 750 million people. Her dress has also been called ‘one of the most iconic dresses of all time’ with its 25-foot-long train (the longest in royal history) and puffy sleeves, it set an example for what a ‘fantasy wedding’ should look like. It was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel for Alexander McQueen and was covered in 10,000 pearls. It was accessorised with an 18th-century heirloom tiara, a 153-yard veil and silk shoes. This style went on to dominate the decade’s wedding dress fashion.


Because of this, big became the over-riding theme of the 1980s – the puffed sleeves, cathedral trains and big hair. Full-length veils would complement the cathedral trains and lace and frills were very popular. Oversized shoulders were also in, with sleeves usually flowing and then gathered at the wrist. Collared necklines were fashionable too with high, stand and mandarin collars being some of the most popular.


There was a slight move away from the white dress, but colours were still relatively neutral with ivory, cream, champagne or magnolia pink being the main colours of choice.

Hair was wild and big in general in the 1980s with perms, mullets, hi-top fades and the Jheri curl being some of the most significant. Wedding hair followed suit with teased and backcombed styles.


Make-up was bold with a focus on the eyes in bright eye colours in blues, pinks and purples and combined with bright lipsticks, the skin was tanned and bronzed.


Large white, cascading bouquets become popular with brides, once again inspired by Princess Diana.


Princess Diana on her wedding day to Prince Charles in 1981.




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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