Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Classic Movie Wedding Dresses

If you didn't pick it up from the oblique "bridal shower" references in previous posts, I'm getting married in 6 weeks (aghhhhh!).  This has caused my brain to be overloaded by wedding paraphernalia, some of the most fascinating of which is movie-based.  I am fascinated by wedding dresses in old movies, and how they're give such a nice feel for how the trends re: wedding dresses have changed through the years.  

Check out this drop-dead gorgeous number on Claudette Colbert:

Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934)

You can definitely tell it's a 30's era dress, but it hardly looks dated at all.  (And check out that rich-girl veil!)  I tried on a few dresses in similar satin and cut, and I felt like I was wearing a nightie.  This one manages to keep the neckline and sleeve demure enough to keep away from inappropriate territory.  The flowered neckline and the gloves don't hurt, either.  

And just for kicks, how about the marvelous poster art:

Contrast the above with this - another rich socialite wedding dress:

Gene Tierney in The Razor's Edge (1946)

The slinky satin has been replaced with lace, but that thing is so tight I have no idea how she moves in it.  I hope she didn't have to sit down.  The veil is another long one, but it's nearly eclipsed by the lace train and that massive bouquet.  The one thing I'm not so sure about is that...thing...on her head.  I like the lace cap, but the poufy hat bit is a little odd (though nicely set against her brunette hair).  The see-through lace neckline and sleeves, with just a sweetheart bustline lined, seems to be a popular style that appears more than once.

Ginger Rogers in Carefree (1938)

I, unfortunately, couldn't find a better pic of this dress, which looks more like the modern cupcake dress. The tulle can partly be attributed to the fact that Rogers always wore clothes that moved with her dancing.  The origami-esque bodice is a nice touch, but those are some seriously puffy sleeves (calling Anne Shirley, eh?).  The hairpiece and thick tulle veil seem reminiscent of the first two ensembles. 

The lace bodice like Tierney's was seemingly a popular choice in the 50s:

Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man (1952)

Elizabeth Taylor in The Father of the Bride (1950)

Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

The Father of the Bride dress is the true precursor of the "princess" trend in today's bridal market.  O'Hara and Monroe's dresses are much more toned down and, despite the lace, almost casual in their likeness to regular dress-wear.  I especially love the short stiff skirt of the last dress, and her adorable hat.  The veils are very bridal but that hat is so chic.  

Speaking of short dresses, here is the epitome of the classic short wedding dress:

Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face (1957)
The New Look silhouette, combined with the simple fabric, make this a very striking look.  And one that I think is nigh impossible to actually pull off.  Even Hepburn is barely doing it (Doesn't she look about 4 feet tall, even on a pedestal?).  This dress is remarkably popular on the blogs, especially with the blog-heavy influence on "indie" weddings.  The shoulder-brushing veil is an interesting change, but Hepburn's slicked back hair makes the whole thing a little too stark for me. 

The Funny Face dress does seem to fall into a niche category of wedding-dress-that-looks-nearly-like-everyday-dress.  I always think of Margaret in Gaskell's North and South, who - decrying the elaborate wedding celebration of her cousin - says "On my wedding day, I would like to put on my best dress and walk to the church."  In our era of wedding-as-event, the idea seems only feasible for city hall weddings, much like the gorgeous vintage suit Carrie wears in her final wedding in the Sex and the City movie.  There truly is something very appealing about that idea, which comes through in a few instances in classic film:  

Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year (1942)

Grace Kelly in High Society (1956)
Secretly, as much as I adore Grace Kelly's actual wedding dress, I must say that I love her wedding ensemble in High Society.  

This dress, however, I actually find a little horrible:

Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

Maybe it's the hat?  Bacall is too pretty to be wearing that thing.  I included it anyway because (a) How to Marry... is one of my favorite movies ever and (b) Monroe's outfit in this shot is to die.  The draped sleeves, the fur neckline, the gloves, and especially her glasses ("men don't make passes at girls who wear specs").  Seriously, I wish that Marilyn had stuck more to comedy, as she is positively brilliant in this movie.  

And finally, just because it's one of my favorite movie wedding dresses ever:

Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965)

Do you have any classic movie wedding dresses to add?

1 comment:

  1. Philadelphia Story? I just watched that and don't remember her dress. Want to say it was more "everyday dress." I was listening for good usable quotes more than actually watching though in my defense.
    I do like the High Society dress. What colour is it?
    Now I need to go watch these movies again.