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Bridesmaids’ Dresses, Part 4: 1950-2000.

When America economically prospers, hemlines are raised! In the Roaring 20’s and the Baby Boom of the 1950s, America experienced a booming economy and shorter skirts. Think glamorous Barbie in the late 1950s and you catch the vibe. Read on to find out more!

Barbie doll in pink dress

Although the Barbie doll didn’t debut at the American International Toy Fair until 1959, she already had a trunkful of on trend bridesmaids’ dresses which reflected the 1950s and 1960s.

In the last half of the last century, the styles of bridesmaids’ dresses and head gear changed several times. Veil or detachable hood? Translucent, floppy hat or hippie flower crown? The choices were endless! 

 

1950: Sweetheart Necklines are In!

After the slim silhouettes of previous decades, the full skirts on bridesmaids dresses are back!

This time, cap sleeves and sweetheart necklines are added—which is cooler for hotter, summer weddings!

1955: Totally, Totally Tulle

Tulle, that lovely, fluffy ballerina skirt material, became the fabulous fabric of this time.

If you are hemming and hawing about the hems, don’t. Hems, like the economy, went up from the dowdy, full length styles to mid-knee or mid-calf length dresses with a full skirt.

1959: Barbie Debuts!

Marketed as a teenage fashion model, Mattel offered high fashion dresses which tucked in at the waist and then flared out in petticoat-supported skirts. Think Vintage Barbie and you’ll get this vibe.

 

1950's style wedding dress
Retro Barbie doll

1960: Proving the Bridesmaids Had Arms…

Bridesmaids dresses remained short (mid-knee length) and added sleeveless looks and high neck collars to appear more modern.

The crinoline petticoats which gave the dress a triangle look were gone and replaced by slimmer silhouettes.

1965: In the Pink…Literally!

The most popular color for bridesmaids’ gowns was Pepto-Bismol Pink.

The veils? Yes, they matched the pink dresses.

1973: The Princess Anne Influence 

Inspired by the court dresses worn during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1559-1603), Princess Anne added Tudor sleeves to her wedding dress.

Guess what showed up on bridesmaids’ dresses soon after? Yep…bridesmaids’ dresses with long, flowing Tudor sleeves. 

 

Princess Anne
2 bradal hats 1975

1975: Hats off to a New Trend!

The most popular color for bridesmaids’ dresses in 1975 was peach.

The style? Ruffled, tiered gowns and a wide-brimmed hat to match.

The hats were often translucent and curved around the face of the bridesmaid for a romantic look. See the lavender hat and the white hat to the left here.

1978: 2 Piece Wedding Dresses!

Brides’ and bridesmaids’ dresses inspired by Ancient Greece are in. The dress to the right is from Demetrios and shows the Greek influence.

With that design, the first two piece dresses are on trend: the hood (instead of a veil) could be detached and thus gave the dress a different look for the reception.

There were two options: either the hood snapped into the bakc of the dress and could be detached OR as in this dress, the hood was part of the cape and could be taken off for two different wedding looks.

Heads up:

This 2 pc. trend will resurface at least twice in the last 50 years.

Demetrios' wedding dress with detachable hood
Princess Diana's wedding

1981: The Puffier, the Better

When Princess Diana married in 1981, her child bridesmaids wore taffeta dresses with puffy sleeves which seemed to defy gravity. This design allowed the skirt to puff out so that the little girls appeared much older and taller as they walked in Westminster Abbey.

For the next few years, her bridesmaids’ dresses dictated what designers presented to bridesmaids, whether they were children or adults.

 

1985:  Pink is Back!

 In a softer shade, pink is back for bridesmaids’ dresses!

Influenced by hippies and boho chic, flower crowns were a huge trend—replacing hats as must have headgear.

1990: Shifting back to Minimalism

Bridesmaids’ dresses designs trended back to the slender, minimalist silhouettes of the 1920s but this time in the very sedate shades of navy, burgundy, and black. Good-bye ruffles and tiered skirts!

1995: Lavender is the Most Popular Color! 

For bridesmaids worried about being in ANOTHER pink dress, this was a welcome trend: Lavender became the most popular color for a bridesmaid’s dress.

In Part 5, we will explore all the dress innovations for this century!

bridesmaid in pink dress

Images courtesy of Etsy,  Walmart (Barbie Colletible Doll in pink), Daily CuttingEdgeBrides.com (bride and car), AliExpress (Barbie in pink dress),  Daily Express (Princess Anne), Getty Images (Princess Diana),  Bridal Chic (bridal hats),  Demetrios (gown with hood and cape), and Pixabay.com. They own the rights to these images.

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