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Bridesmaids’ Dresses, Part 3: 1905-1945

When King Edward succeeded his mother, Queen Victoria, bridal fashions changed rapidly. In fact, in the first half of the 1900s, bridesmaids dresses changed more times than in the entire 1800s! Read on to find out more!

In Part 2, we followed the all white dresses trend which slowly changed to bridesmaids’ dresses in colors. Let’s see what happens in the 20th. century to bridesmaids’ dresses!

Researchers tell us that if you took all the knowledge discovered in the world from the dawn of time until 1945, that amount would equal x.

Between 1945 and 1970, the sum total of the world’s knowledge doubled which is 2x.

From 1970-1976, the sum total of knowledge doubled again…= 4 x.

After that, the total of the world’s knowledge doubled every three years.

Bridesmaids’ dresses have changed rapidly too. Certain trends—such as dresses in colors other than white—come and go with the years. Let’s dive in and find out what happened in the first half of the last century!



2 Edwardian women
Edwardian groom and bride

1905: Contrast is Back on Trend!

Over the years, the concerns about the bride being cursed or kidnapped evaporated. As a result, since they no longer needed to hide the bride, bridesmaids focused on dresses which contrasted directly with the bride to let the bride shine on her special day.  

1915: Bridesmaids are Shorter than They Used to Be…

A new trend arose: Junior bridesmaids and flower girls wearing short, white dresses adorned with a beautiful ribbon sash replaced adult bridesmaids at many weddings. Yes, it was now easier to figure out who the bride was!

1920: Bridesmaids Get Taller…

Brides returned to the tradition of inviting their best friends and sisters to be the bridesmaids.

These adult bridesmaids often dressed in all white, drop waist dresses. Bye, bye dresses in color for a while!

1925: The 20s Were Roaring—With Fab Fabrics!

During the 1920’s, there was an economic boom in the US called “The Roaring 20s.” If you watch or read The Great Gatsby, you’ll catch the vibe.

With so much ubiquitous wealth in the economy, brides selected the heavier, more luxurious fabrics (e.g., velvet) for their bridesmaids’ dresses.

Pearls were the preferred jewelry. A woman either wore 1 long strand which fell past her waist OR she woreone very long strnd which she looped around her neck several times to create three rows of pearls. 

Younger bridesmaids might wear pink, blue, green, or gray pearls. 

Adult bridesmaids wore the traditional white pearls.

Instead of veils, bridesmaids often wore an exotic head wrap or turban.

flapper girl
Paulette Goddard

1930: Flocks of Little Bo-Peeps at Weddings

As the Great Depression descended and the wealth of the Roaring 20s faded into a distant memory, wedding designers offered completely different bridesmaids’ dresses: on trend were ruffles, full sleeves, full skirts…and women looked like Little Bo-Peep. Luckily, the sheep were nowhere in sight…

1935: Hollywood Glamor Takes Center Stage

To capture Hollywood glamor at weddings, satin became the preferred fabric for brides and bridesmaids.

One other trend: mufflers. No, not the muffler for your car but a cylinder in which the bridesmaid could place both her hands. In the winter, this kept the bridesmaids warm. We’re not sure what they did in summer…

1940:  Colorful Bridesmaids Dresses are Back! (Whew!)

To differentiate herself from her attendants, brides selected colorful, high-waisted gowns for the bridesmaids.

These dresses brought cheerful, beautiful colors into the drab, WWII world of the 1940s. 

Since full, structured shoulders were all the rage for movie stars (like Joan Crawford to the right), guess what else showed up in bridesmaids’ dresses? Shoulder pads worthy of an NFL linebacker!  Yes, Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington would have felt right at home with those shoulder pads!

(By the way, bridesmaids carried a bouquet of flowers, not a gun like Joan Crawford.) 



Joan Crawford
1945 wedding

1945: Victory Dresses

With the US and Allied forces winning World War II, bridesmaids dresses became more flirtatious:  ruffled, off-the-shoulder styles became more popular.

In addition, the tradition of having all the bridesmaids match was back once again.

Come back for Part 4 when we explore the second half of the 20th. century!


Images courtesy of Joan Crawford and 1945 wedding, for Paulette Goddard,  and

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