Wedding Fashions of 1920

Posted by Laura
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A gown presided over by a real Russian head-dress of old lace and clouds and clouds of floating tulle, was of white satin and rich lace, modern in note, yet unmistakably bridal with its modest décolletage and long tight sleeves. It was worn by Mlle. Lacelle Meserve at her wedding to M. Nicolai Basily, who chargé d'affaires at the Russian Embassy.



Since Cherie is getting married this month (yay!), I thought I would do a little bridal special this week. Several years ago I was researching a book by looking through every issue of Vogue from the 1920s. While there were a few subjects I was particularly looking for, I found myself becoming fascinated with the wedding gowns and planning information that was carefully delineated in these magazines. Written in 1920 when fashion was limited to the highest class—the aristocracy and industrial millionaires—the text is a world away from the more inclusive (and more pop culture-centric) view that Vogue takes now. The descriptions of the stationary, decorations, and entertainment all fall within a long history of social decorum that has been lost now. The best part though are the couture gowns from the leading designers of the early part of the 20th century—just following the war styles were shifting yet hadn't fully evolved into the styles that became synonymous with the 1920s.

These illustrations are taken from two articles in the same bridal theme issue—one that discusses the "material advantages of marrying in Paris" and the other, detailing how "the rose-strewn pathway of the bride should be planned with the utmost perfection in detail." While the articles themselves go in depth into the specifics of the wedding (exact language for the invitations, how the father should give away the bride, all of the necessary pieces for the trousseau, etc.), I have chosen to concentrate on the wedding wardrobe of the bride and her attendants.



Illustrations from Vogue, April 1 1920.

There Is Nothing in the World of Clothes to Compare with A French Trousseau, from the Wedding-Gown, Smart yet Traditionally Bridal, to the Negligees and Lingerie, Rarer and More Exquisite Than Ever, Though Less Numerous.

The better born a French bride is the more formal and conventional her outfit. The wedding-gown is a stately garment with a distinct character of its own and is built on conventional lines which will not allow it to disguise itself as an ordinary white evening gown later on. The material no longer need necessarily be satin, but this is almost the only concession to modernism. It must not be cut more than a little low, and it almost always has long sleeves, even in this sleeveless era. Family lace plays its historic role, and orange blossoms are de rigueur.  


Mlle. d'Uzès, now the Countess de la Rochefoucauld, wore this wedding-gown of white charmeuse and rare rich appliqué lace. Upon her head, the lace veil, very long and very old, was banded with orange-blossoms and fell over her eyes just the little that smart French veils are partial to. The gown is typical of those worn by aristocratic French brides, who cling to the traditional in the matter of bridal costumes.



The wedding-dress of Mlle. La Rouchefoucauld-Doudeauville, who married the Prince de Parme, was typical of Worth, who made it, and of a smart Parisienne bride; for in Paris brides still cling to long tight sleeves and mighty trains, to modest décolletages and rare old lace, even though they be modern enough to have their gowns of silver cloth, like this one, and pearls instead of orange-blossoms on their heads.



With the prospect of a glorious Eastertide and heavenly days thereafter that are surely designed for weddings, it is not to be expected that many little brides-to-be will have been spending their Lent doing penance. The head that is to be crowded with tulle is far too busy with thoughts of wedding preparations. It must be a perfect occasion, and, if its perfection is to be unmarred a great deal of time and care must be expended on each detail.



The bride's attendants at the formal wedding may go Directoire fashion in white crepe de Chine, prettily sashed and hatted, and accompanied by flower-topped shepherdess wands.



Much charm may attend the formal wedding in the person of the flower-girl. This quaint little girl may carry out the theme of decoration by the colours of her taffeta hat and frock, rosetted and ruffled in delightful fashion. The basket adds a picturesque touch.

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