The White Dress That Changed Fashion History
While wedding trends and traditions come and go and change over time – one tradition has stood the test of time; the bride always wears white! But most people do not know the real origin of this tradition – where did it come from?
Many brides choose to break with tradition and wear something in an alternative colour, but these are actually few and far between with US retailers reporting that accent bridal gown colours accounted for only 4.5% of sales in 2014.
Many people believe that that the tradition started because wearing white indicated wealth and affluence and therefore cast the bride’s family in a favourable light. Others believe that a girl’s purity is proven by showing up in a white dress on her wedding day – a reason why most second time around brides choose a different colour. But the real truth is that just like any other fashion trend, it started with an iconic dress worn by an iconic woman.
The iconic woman in this instance is Queen Victoria who chose a white silk satin gown for her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 175 years ago. Red was in fact the most popular colour for brides at time but the young queen decided to go against the status quo despite members of the court thinking that the colour was ‘too restrained’.
Victoria was not the first royal to choose white for her wedding gown. Many others, including Mary Queen of Scots in 1558 wore white gowns before her but she is the one who is widely credited with changing the norm. A few years after her wedding, a popular lady’s monthly called white “the most fitting hue” for a bride calling it “an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”
Today’s fitted bodices and floor-length skirts mirror Victoria’s dress leaving it up to the bride herself to make it her own.