What was fashionable in the past often looks frivolous for the present. The roaring party life and carefree attitude of the 20s as seen in the Great Gatsby is legendary, but the frock-like dresses of the time would look frivolous if worn today. But the 20s saw great changes in fashion with higher hemlines, loose-fitting silhouettes, and more skin on display. The age of haute couture was beginning with names such as Chanel and Patou being the envy of fashionable women. Weddings were opportunities for fun and fashion. Just like today, weddings were also opportunities to make class and social statements.
1920s Wedding dresses
The frock-like chemise dress popularized by Chanel was the biggest look in the roaring 20s fashion. This dress had a straight profile from the shoulders to the hem, with a dropped waistline and mid-calf hemlines. Wedding dresses were in this frock style. They became simpler than the layered gowns of the past decades. This simplicity can be seen in the wedding dress worn by Wallis Simpson when she wedded the Prince of Wales. Even the more elaborate gowns like the one worn by Mary Pickford were subtly decorated with beading and embroidery….but it was unique with its short sleeves and ruffled cuffs. The more elaborate robe de style was the preferred wedding dress of the late 20s. Its hem was raised in front and trailed at the back.
The flapper dress was the choice item for bridesmaids in the 20s. Fashionable young women fell for their shorter hemline, bare arms, and backs. It was the perfect dress for the wedding reception; the short and loose hem was perfect for executing dance moves when the partying started. It was playful and seductive for hip young women.
20s Wedding Accessorizing
Wearing a hat as a bride is almost unimaginable in the present day, but brides in the 20s accessorized with a veil or a hat. Women wore their hair short, which made wearing a hat easier. The cloche hat was almost a must-have accessory for a woman in the 20s. Some bridesmaids wore caged hats in place of closed hats.
Jewelry was simple and classy. A long pearl necklace was the ultimate class statement. A pair of golden earrings added a bit of sparkle to the wedding ensemble.
The bride and bridesmaids carried bouquets of real flowers, with the bride carrying the biggest made from red and white roses.
It was not uncommon for women to pinch their cheeks to add a bit of red in place of applying rouge! Makeup in the 20s women’s fashion was simple and unrefined and required a long time to apply. Many women were comfortable with simple lipstick. Brides were allowed a bit of heavier makeup. Smoky eyes were done with a crude eyeliner, made from mixing petroleum jelly and coal dust. A lip pout was also done by outlining the top lip using rouge.
No wedding would be complete without a proper opulent party. Prohibition or no, the wilder the party, the more memorable it was.