Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Look at the 1920s Wedding Dress

Dainty lace and a sweetheart neckline in 1929.
 It is now time to take a look at one of the decades of which I am most fond--the 1920s--and of a particular piece of this history that is growing in demand these days--the 1920s wedding dress. 

You can see the actual listing here.
Finding an authentic 1920s wedding dress that has not been tampered with or altered is as difficult as capturing the illusive Chupacabra.

These dresses are quite rare because the 1920s served as such a time of folly and decadence, that the following decade (the 1930s Depression Era) was a time of conservation and repurposing. Old dresses were torn up and used for pillows, blankets, and dish cloths--but the dresses that survived intact are truly a marvel to see!

Certainly, these items are now in high-demand. The gilded, whirlwind of an age, and the time F. Scott Fitzgerald once called "an intoxicating study of lunacy" is something that makes all of us 21st century children stand in awe and relative confusion.

The lost film Wedding Bills (1927). 
Fashion in the 1920s was fleeting, modern, and thoroughly comfortable. This was an era when the modern woman was breaking into her own, and the corsets were coming OFF, GIRLFRIEND. The sleek silhouettes promoted androgyny, thin, slick figures, and flattened breasts--a new spin on sex appeal. 

Fabulous, 1927.
Flapper styles heavily influenced the decade-long period in fashion. Skirts, whether above the knee or well-below it, fell away from the body in light fabrics. Particularly for the wedding attire, dresses were made of silks, satins, laces, and very airy gauzes.

Dresses were typically worn with a "French cap", with or without a veil, or decorative crystal brooches to reflect the Art Deco influence of the day. 

The boyish influence of the entirely straight shirt-dress created a casual elegance that was rather known to the world of wedding fashion--a novelty that was pioneered most tirelessly by our lady, Coco Chanel

The fad took the 1920s by storm. 

In order to correctly date a wedding piece from the 1920s, you must take a concentrated look at a few different factors. 

First, is fabric. Fabrics in the 1920s, particularly wedding fashions, were quite consistent. Weddings were usually held in the spring or summer, purposefully, to blend with the above-ankle trend of the times--and so the fabrics used were particularly light-weight and easy to wear. Popular fabrics included thin silks, satins, laces and even slinky rayons.
Some pannier action from the mid-1920s.

Second, is the style of the particular dress. Dresses from the earlier 1920s would reflect more of an Edwardian era--using more and thicker choices in fabric. Dresses from the middle of the 1920s would have the highest hems, as this was the time when the Flapper styles were most popular. Hemlines would be seem to fall again to the ankles around the latter 1920s, as a more conservative outlook would once again influence the fashions of the 1930s.  

And thirdly, is the label--if there is one. Most dresses that are found from this era, particularly wedding dresses, curiously enough will have no label. Most wedding dresses of this time were made by a particularly appointed seamstress, and were not bought in a store. If there is a label on the inside of a dress, I would research it. The only labels inside of these dresses I have ever come across are always extremely rare and most certainly French--as French designers were always very stringent about labeling their works of art.

Vive le mariage!

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