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How Fabric Defines The Wedding Dress

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The white wedding dress has been popular since the time of Queen Victoria who started the trend of white wedding gowns by sensationally wearing one for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. From then ‘til now there have been many versions of the white dress and veil.

In the 1900’s brides favoured a long sleeved, full length loose wedding dress they could dance in. This kind of dress generally used a lot of hand embroidered or beaded fabric to complete the full skirt, train and veil.

By the 1920’s wedding gowns had slimmed down to a more figure hugging, flapper style dress with a full lace veil. This style continued over the 1930’s and 40’s where brides would experiment with satin and silk or the more budget friendly rayon, high and low waists and shorter chiffon veils along with the traditional long lace.

The 1950’s gave rise to both sleeveless styles and the Cinderella style ball gown dress. Before this time long sleeves had always been the accepted norm, but by the 50’s brides were getting more daring with off the shoulder dresses, capped sleeves or completely strapless dresses. The skirt philosophy was the bigger, the better. Layers of tulle were constructed into a sizable petticoat before the final layer of silk, satin or fine cotton was draped over the top to create the desired ‘lamp shade’ affect.


This glamorous, dramatic look didn’t last long as by the early 1960’s the trend was back to a body contouring column dresses with a high neckline and sleeves. Some brides did opt for a fuller skirt but these were generally made from thicker, heavier fabric than the light, floaty material populrized in the 1950’s.


A mix of popular styles emerged from the 1970’s. For the first time in history hemlines shot up to above the knee. Given that previously even showing arms was considered risqué this was a landmark moment for wedding dress fashion. Other trends included short lived but incredibly popular puff ball sleeves, and the long lasting full length, romantic, bohemian style gown.

The 1980’s are widely regarded as the decade good taste forgot and really anything went. We saw long full skirts, short sleeveless numbers, mullet skirts, puff balls… Brides experimented with different styles, hemlines and fabrics. Unfortunately a lot of the fabrics used were low quality making a lot of dresses look cheap. While looking back the styles weren’t good by today’s standards, they certainly were unique.

By the 1990’s the 80’s free for all had calmed down. Sleeves came back around, as did more traditional lace and veil styles. Complicated updos full of pearls and rhinestones became more of a feature while the dress was kept simple using light fabric to create a silhouette with the occasional subtle ruffle. This style was also prominent during the 2000’s with the addition of the calf length A-line skirt.

Today’s fashion is all about either the elegant simplicity of a strapless white dress or the beauty of a bohemian style gown. The latter is typically sheer fabric featuring lace, beading or embroidery with a soft-fold full length skirt. Replicas of dresses from the two royal weddings were also an instant hit. Versions of Kate and Megan’s dresses have been in high demand.

Throughout the decades one thing has remained consistent: The key to a beautiful wedding gown is the fabric it is made from. The higher quality the material the better the gown will look, sit and feel. Cheap material may be tempting when weddings are so expensive but even if you have the best design ever, low quality fabric means a visibly low quality dress. Tissura has been selling luxury couture fabrics for 20 years and we have fallen in love with their collection of bridal fabrics. Go check them out!



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