Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wedding Dress For Women - Twice Told Tuesday

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from
my collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

In keeping with the subject discussed in last Friday's Collector's Series (Brides and Weddings), here is an article on the proper wedding dress for women. This information is extremely helpful in dating old photographs.

Wedding Dress for Women
Chapter VII
Engagements and Weddings

Ivory faille with trimmings of chiffon and orange- blossoms

IT is not necessary to give directions regarding the dress of women guests at a wedding, beyond suggesting that the most elaborate afternoon reception costume is invariably worn to a church or house wedding held in the morning or the afternoon. Hats are not put off at a reception or a breakfast; gloves are laid aside only while one is in the act of eating. Wraps, at a reception or breakfast, are left in the hall or the dressing-room. At an evening wedding feminine guests wear elaborate decollete toilets if they choose, or very elaborate high-throated, long-sleeved reception toilettes without hats or bonnets. It is not proper for those ladies who sit above the white ribbon at a church ceremony to appear in deep mourning. Even the mother of the bride or the mother of the groom should, for the occasion, put off her mourning dress for a costume of gray and lilac, or black decorated with purple, though the day after the wedding she may resume her mourning weeds.

A maiden bride should dress in white and wear a veil. There is a reprehensible tendency today against the use of the veil, unless the bride is in her first youth and her wedding is celebrated with the pomp and circumstance of an exceedingly fashionable function. This is contrary to one of the oldest and most charming customs which our civilization and society has inherited, a custom not to be lightly put aside. Even at the simplest home wedding, and when the bride perhaps has passed her first youth, the white gown, the orange blossoms and the filmy veil are essential outward signs of all the sweet dignity and precious sentiment that characterize this most important event of her life.

Whatever the material of the wedding dress may be its skirt should boast a train, and for a morning or afternoon wedding the waist should be high in the throat and long in the sleeves. For an evening wedding a waist cut open in the throat and without sleeves, is good taste, and it is optional whether the veil is worn on or off the face. Tradition, the voice of which in this instance should exercise great persuasive powers with a bride, speaks, and rightly, in favor of a tulle veil that envelopes the whole figure. There is a modern fashion which favors the use of a lace veil merely as a delicate drapery falling from the wearer's high-combed hair, out upon her shoulders, and then to her train.

A few jewels only, and those preferably the gifts of the groom or the bride's nearest and dearest relatives, should be worn to the altar. There is a suggestion of vulgar ostentation in the sight of a bride who displays the barbaric riches and splendor of ropes of pearls and blazing diamonds on her throat and arms, in her hair, and upon her gown.

The white glove for the left hand is usually removed when the ring is placed. In order to take it off expeditiously it is well to carefully stretch it and try it on frequently beforehand. When the groom is ready to place the gold circlet, the bride should rapidly bare her hand by simply pulling her glove off inside out. No attempt is ever made to replace it until after leaving the church or, in case of a home wedding, until the ceremony is over.

Though the white gown and veil is, for a maiden bride, preferable to any other wedding dress, occasions occur when a walking suit is the most sensible and tasteful costume. Brides who are married before twelve o'clock, or who go directly from the altar to a train or boat, wear a becoming street dress of ladies' cloth, veiling or silk, in a pale shade of blue, brown, lilac, green or gray, relieved by touches of a lighter color, and probably lace or some decoration of diaphanous material near the throat. Gloves of suede or glace kid are worn to accord in tint with the color of the gown. A becoming toque or hat, garnished with plumes or flowers, and a bouquet of flowers or a prayer-book, are the chief adjuncts of this toilette.

On the occasion of a second marriage a bride wears a traveling gown of the type just described, or, when her wedding is elaborately celebrated in church, a handsome reception costume is suitable. This dress and her bouquet must not be purely white. A toilet of silver-gray or mauve cloth, silk, satin or velvet, set off by trimmings of lace, embroidery or fur, seems befitting.
The skirt should be trained, the gloves white or of a very delicate tint, and a toque or bonnet of lace and flowers or jeweled net and tiny plumes, adds to the dignity of the wearer's appearance.


Holt, Emily. Encyclopaedia of Etiquette: What to Write, What to Wear, What to Do, What to Say: a Book of Manners for Everyday Use. New York: Doubleday, 1915.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Maven, I've been to your site a couple of times, and most recently followed the "still think she's dead" series. Thought you might appreciate this NEW story with a picture of the deceased: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26290833/
If the link works it shows a young man who passed away, and per his wishes was put in a standing position in his mother's living room for all three days of his wake.

August 19, 2008 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Lidian said...

My gg aunt Belle was only about 21 when she married in 1882, but wore a dark purple wedding dress with black lace - as far as I know she wasn't in mourning (although it is certainly a possibility). I used to be able to get into the dress when I was a teen but it is very small in the waist!

August 20, 2008 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger Thomas MacEntee said...

Ah the wedding dress conundrum continues to this day, to wit:


Are the cupholders optional these days?

August 20, 2008 at 9:25 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


And so the post mortem practice continues! And standing.

I think some things are better left in the past.


August 21, 2008 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


I got into a wedding dress as a teen and lived to regret it.


August 21, 2008 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


Very funny!


August 21, 2008 at 5:12 PM  

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