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The History of Wedding Gowns

Updated on October 17, 2013

The White Wedding Gown

Have you ever considered the dazzling and beautiful history of wedding gowns? Ever since they emerged, they were used as a cultural representation of marriage and unity. The white wedding gown, however, only emerged in recent years. There is quite a bit of symbolism associated with these garments, and the symbolism is often linked to the color, style, appearance, etc. The first documented white wedding gown occurred in the year 1406. However, during the middle ages, marriages were often merely a matter of business between two unified families.

Present Day Wedding Gowns

Currently, wedding dresses exist in various styles. With the mark of the feminist age, women have begun to defy conventional norms. Historically speaking, the white, conservative wedding dress was most often associated with a woman’s purity. However, women have restructured the definition of what it is to be feminine, and what their relative roles are in the context of a marriage. During the feminist movement, women shed a variety of different stereotypes. Initially, they were confined to submissive, domestic roles in their households, left at the mercy of their husband's rules. But, after the feminist movement, they began to wield control of their definitions of what it is to be a woman. These changing norms spilled directly into the world of fashion, ultimately affecting wedding gowns as well. While feminine sex appeal was initially taboo, women grappled control of their sexuality after the feminist movement. This is evident in the various styles and colors offered among wedding gowns today. Many women are no longer holding onto that image of purity, because they possess more equality than ever. As a result of this, they have experimented with a variety of different wedding gown colors and styles.

How Wedding Gowns Have Changed

Today’s wedding gown styles range from the traditional, white wedding dress, to the sexy, sleek, chic dress of today. One of the most common styles is that of the sweetheart bust style, which is often paired with a tube top. This style was unheard of in the Middle Ages, in which women were expected to be fully covered. However, the sweetheart tube top style showcases and accentuates the woman’s arms and hugs the bust line. It appears as if dresses have evolved along with the cultural atmosphere. Some women have even opted for knee length wedding dresses, which is a marked difference from dresses that were previously embraced in the Middle Ages and the Colonial and Victorian eras. And of course, it is not unusual for women to wear colors other than white at their weddings. However, this merely represents facets of Western culture. Traditionally, in Eastern culture, traditional wedding rarely feature a white gown that is associated with purity. Red is a color of great fortune in eastern culture and this is typically the color worn during a traditional ceremony.

Over time, as women have wielded increasing levels of control, they have begun to exercise more power over their fashion choices. The wedding gown of today is now a bold statement, as people customize their wedding gowns to their individual preferences and choose wedding gown preservation, no matter the style of gown, in spite of tradition.


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