Bridesmaids dress inspiration—Looks from the past to the present
How many of you brides have been searching for inspiration in your mother’s wedding album when choosing your bridesmaids dresses? Not many, I believe!
There is no surprise here, for bridesmaids dresses weren’t always inspiring in the past! We have all heard notorious tales of dresses that resembled cotton candy and fabrics that would be better off as drapes!
Nonetheless, we live in a time when many things from the past seem to reappear on the wedding scene. From heirloom wedding dresses to vintage themes, décor and classic venues, couples have embraced many elements from weddings of the past. While this trend continues, it is only right that we visit bridesmaids dresses inspired by fashions from the past.
Today, we will look at bridesmaids dresses that are suitable for different vintage eras. I found this article on the Bustle extremely helpful with this. It gives us a clear idea of the trends that were most happening during the past, with some really interesting pictures to support it. Let us try to find inspiration in these dress styles and locate dresses from our current bridesmaids collections to reinvent the look. One thing we can assure you is that they will not look out of place in the modern wedding scene. So, let’s begin!
Women’s clothing in this era was rather elaborate, with corsets and wide skirts supported by hoops and crinoline. The ball gown was a popular dress style in evening wear and formal dresses. Your bridesmaids may not appreciate being weighed down in a heavy ball gown dress at your wedding, nor is it appropriate. Nonetheless, there are other dress features from the Victorian era that you can easily incorporate into your bridesmaids looks. Here they are.
Low-necked and off-the-shoulder styles were big hits during this era. Many designer collections today feature these in their bridesmaids dresses. Here are some!
The dress has the opulence and fitted bodice style that is reminiscent of the 1850’s. However, the fitted silhouette continues into the skirt, allowing for easy movement. The off-the-shoulder neckline and details in the bodice are suitable for a Victorian vibe.
The Angelina Faccenda 20453 dress features an off-the-shoulder neckline and has embellishments on the dropped sleeves. The criss-cross bodice results in an empire waistline. The ruchings in the front continue into the back of the dress as well.
Early 19th century
During the Edwardian era, defined waistlines were created using tight fitting corsets. The ideal female figure resembled a pigeon-structure. This was characterized by an upper body that thrust forward, while the hips and bust were emphasized by a thin waistline. An air of opulence defined most dress styles. Frilly embellishments like ruffles, lace and floral details were very popular. By the year 1910, the empire line was preferred over the corset. Pastels were preferred for daytime dresses, while dark, deep rich colors were chosen for formal evening wear. Here are some dresses that recreate this effect in bridesmaids dresses.
Here is a dress from the Mori Lee Bridesmaid collection with a well-defined waistline and structured silhouette. The dress has plenty of lace embellishments strewn throughout the length. These add an air of finesse. The satin waistband defines the waistline and the full-length makes it suitable for a formal wedding ceremony.
This dress from the Jasmine dress collection has full-length sleeves and a defined waistline. Although there is no corset detail, the silhouette is structured and fits tightly against the natural curves. The full-length sleeves are actually a removable shrug. This feature also gives the dress a two-in-one look. The embellished bodice has details that compare with the luxurious finishes of Edwardian dresses.
Most dress silhouettes had one striking detail in this era—tiered skirts. This is a dress feature that many wedding dress designers have openly embraced and included in wedding gowns. Although there are few bridesmaids dresses with this feature, it is attractive when present. Huge collars were another big fashion feature in this decade. Here are our picks that bring back these styles.
A modern-style tiered A-line dress, this Mori Lee 123 brings tiers to life, albeit in contemporary style. Gentle tiers are fashioned in chiffon to create an almost rippling effect and a smart silhouette, unlike the over-the-top dress styles that were popular in the 1930’s.
Inspired by the elaborate collars that were the highlight of the 1930’s, this After Six bridesmaid dress is a very stylish variation of this style. A ruffled overlay drops off the halter-neckline over the fitted silhouette, making this florentine lace gown a vintage beauty.
Sassy, stylish short dresses in 1950
Short, but voluminous skirts were stylish in the 1950’s. These added a youthful vibe to the overall look. Although short, the dresses usually featured layers of taffeta and net that formed buoyant skirts. Bows were an essentially important detail at this time. This feature, in fact, found its way to not just dresses, but even hats. Let’s take a look at some of the dresses from our collection which bring back the memories of this era.
Here is a tulle dress with a bouncy skirt that was a favorite in the 1950’s. Perhaps a tad shorter than was the norm, this dress has a thick voluminous skirt that is still acceptable to the modern woman.
This dress from the After Six Bridesmaid collection features a bodice that has a different color than in the skirt. This was an essentially common feature in the dress styles of the years we discussed about. The defined waistline and smart silhouette with the halter neck are smart and will suit the women today, as they did back then.
1960’s poufy dresses and sheath silhouettes
In the beginning of the decade, many brides chose to dress their bridesmaids in shiny dresses with voluminous skirts. Silky sateen finishes were popular, so the look reflected opulence and luxury. As the decade progressed, the silhouettes slimmed and the sheath was the chosen style for most women. The white glove was an accessory that rendered itself to any dress-style.
This dress from the Mori Lee Bridesmaid collection has a layered net skirt and is in a rich color that was popular in the 1960’s. Even so, the dress has the poufy look that characterized formal dress styles at the time. Imagine this dress when worn with a pair of pristine white gloves. That should give you a clear idea of what we mean.
As women stepped out of corsets and stiffly structured dress silhouettes, the sheath became the favorite. Here is a sheath silhouette from the Angelina Faccenda collection, with all the glitz and glamour that reflects the style of the 1960’s. The cap sleeve and accessories like hats and white gloves worked well with this design.
Vibrant and colorful 1970s
Patterns and prints in big and bold proportions entered the fashion scene in the 1970s. Appliques and patchworks as well as vibrant, colorful designs were trendy at this time. Dresses flowed to full length and loosely draped around the natural silhouette.
This dress from the Alfred Sung collection could easily pass off as an original from the 1970s. With bright floral prints on a loose silhouette, the colors on the dress stand out. While it would look good at a garden wedding today, you would have seen it any type of wedding in those days.
The After Six Bridesmaids 6556 is a dress with a variety of colors that recreate the 1970s vibe. Despite a fitted waistband, the dress is loose flowing and comfortable with its soft fabric and drape.
The rich and flamboyant style of the 1980s
With the 1980’s the entire fashion scene underwent significant change. Everything was done in bigger and bolder proportions. As hairstyles grew bigger and shine and shimmer was seen in the makeup and accessories, outfits were generally colorful, lively and unusually interesting.
Everything about this dress from the Jasmine Bridal collection, including the color, fit, ruffles, drape and even the sleeves are signature features. This is a style that is typical of the 1980’s. The interesting part is that the dress is interesting in the back as well, with a V-neck formed of bell sleeves.
Here’s another dress from the Dessy Bridesmaid collection that would pass off as a suitable choice for the 1980’s. The dress has loose sleeves that were a characteristic feature of those days. The silhouette, although fitted, is one that flows loosely without too much structure. The criss-cross detail in the bodice and the shimmering waistband are toned-down versions of popular dress details that added to the 1980’s appeal.
Fashion in the 2000’s
With the new century, fashion began diverging in different directions. Unpredictability reigned high, as everyone sought unique styles. No longer did brides choose cookie cutter weddings nor bridal parties that were similar to those seen at other weddings. There was a general mash-up of styles and this added to the appeal of bridesmaids outfits. Metallics, neutrals and casual styles became part of mainstream fashion.
Stylish, elegant and figure-flattering, this is a dress that the women in 2000’s would quickly approve of. The sweetheart neckline is delightfully feminine, and has a romantic appeal. The neckline drapes to one side and pinches at the side, with a layered look. The shimmering color is attractive, but distinct from the typical shiny dresses seen in the years leading up to the 21st century.
This dress is from the Alfred Sung Collection and is a sateen twill dress. Tastefully designed with a gentle sheer scoop neckline over a sweetheart bodice, the dress has an A-line shape. The length gives it a smart look. Despite its simplicity, this is a beautiful dress that will appeal to almost anyone. Another good thing about this dress is that it doesn’t need too many accessories.
And finally this decade
Fashion has grown by leaps and bounds in the second decade of this century. Every year brings in it’s wake new and interesting changes on the fashion scene. With the evolution of wedding fashion, changes have arrived in the world of bridesmaids dresses too. Brides now recognize the individuality of the women in their bridal party and consider matching bridesmaids outfits boring and unnecessary.
Hence there are few rules that define bridesmaids fashion these days. It is as unique as the wedding, woman and theme itself. Mix and match bridesmaids dresses is no longer just a trend, but is considered an essential part of a wedding. Over the last few years we have seen everything from color-block prints to rich jewel colors and pastels rule the scene at different points of time.
The revival of traditional elements like lace, vintage elements like ruffles and accessories have all arrived and stayed on.
Bridesmaids dresses with bold elements like 3-d florals, geometric patterns and oversize embellishments add a modern effect to unconventional wedding themes.
Both loose drapes that resemble masculine styles, as well as soft, feminine romantic styles have appeared on the wedding scene. So, it is hard to predict what a bride expects when she goes shopping for her bridal party outfits.
At Best for Bride, you can find dresses of every style, fitting every era and matching the uniqueness of your bridesmaids. To take a closer look at any of the dresses featured here and to check out more options, make sure to visit our bridesmaid dress collections here. Find all the inspiration and information you need to make your wedding vision a reality though our bridesmaids collections.