Victorian Wedding Dress Styles
- The wide skirts, layers and long flowing sleeves of the civil-war era fashion found its way to England, and wedding dresses of the time were made in this fashion. Layers of lace over delicate muslins, rich brocades or luxurious velvets were all the rage. Gowns of this sort were most often constructed in Paris and imported. The civil-war style wedding gown is still available, although some of the excess layers of ruffle and adornment have been toned down to suit more modern styles.
- Early Victorians, starting around the 1850s, desired an hourglass shape and wore strong corsets to achieve the look. Tightly fitted bodices, low necklines, wide skirts and hoop petticoats all increased this look of a curved form. Dress sleeves were often puffed at the top with a tight, closed forearm area. Layers of crinolines and petticoats puffed out the hooped skirt even more, often making it difficult to get through doorways. Heavy fabrics, such as velvet and thick satins, were the fabric of choice. These types of dress are still available and are often found at winter weddings, due to the heavy, warm fabric.
- Late Victorians, starting in the mid 1880s, still enjoyed the hourglass shape and corset, and many gowns had a tightly fitting corset. The large hooped skirt of the early Victorian age fell out of fashion in favor of lighter, bustled skirts. Sleeves transformed from stiff, puffy mutton style to a more fitted or even a bell sleeve. Softer materials, such as fine linen and organdy, replaced the heavy fabrics of the Early Victorians. While the look changed, the dresses were no less embellished and often were topped by fur capes and ermine-lined veils.
- Victorian brides depended not only on sewn embellishment, but on floral embellishment as well. Many brides festooned their gowns with flowers, no matter how plain or heavily embellished it was already, in addition to carrying a bouquet. The floral decoration of a gown went as far as pinning live flowers on the hem of a gown.