You may have a specific picture of what type of dress you want to marry in, but have you considered the character? The feel? The look? The history? Rather then racing to a house of haute couture and allowing the rails to decide, scour the styles of decades past and the people who wore them, infamously defining not only their age, but timeless beauty itself.

With vintage styling still the height of style, a brief history of fashion may well prove just the food for thought you need, especially if you’re at a stylistic standstill.

Let us lead you through the most definitive decades and fashion idols, firing your imagination with some stunning ideas.


The post WWI climate was one of liberation and experimentation. The roaring ‘20s saw the birth of the flapper – young rebellious women intent on self-expression and fashion forward flair. Louise Brooks, with her slick bob and vampish appeal, represented the Bright Young Things who cast off their corsets in favour of leg-baring, knee skimming dresses and boyish lines. Jazz and Art Deco informed the emerging fashions, which transmuted into the stylish ‘30s where figures such as Garbo, Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich reigned supreme. 

Wedding wear and fashion generally became softer. Satin, bias cut gowns were de rigueur, with a bevy of luxuriant fabrics featuring at the top of every bride-to-be's wish list. Charmeuse, crepe, voile and taffeta all paved the way for the look of the time: long and sleek lines oozing sophistication.

Cloche cap headpieces and soft picture hats completed the look of ultra feminine allure as the idolatry of actresses gained greater influence on popular culture – the pin-up and her style became as ubiquitous as it was deliciously imitable.

With another war to contend with, fashion evolved accordingly. Rationing caused a scarcity of materials and though the silks from the pre-war period were still hotly in demand, they were incredibly rare – prompting the era of Utility Clothing. Men wore uniforms they already owned and women had to adapt old dresses or create imaginatively with whatever was available. 

Still, a determination for design combined with the enforced 'make do' attitude saw a plethora of stylistic features and fresh looks being generated. Sleeves were pivotal, with long, point sleeves and voluminous topped Gibson sleeves with narrow wrists as the template for many a gown. The emergence of the scallop and sweetheart necklines, and then the V-neckline, was evidence of the unrelenting desire for feminine detailing, and the basque waist and long veils were further evidence of the female fashion-forward psyche.

Rayon was the most widely used material as women tried in vain to mimic ‘The New Look’ of greater austerity as personified by the likes of Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth. Broad shoulders and a slim waist was the silhouette of choice as fashion was about to leap to another stratospheric level.


Still the epitome of Hollywood Glamour Girls the world over, Monroe looms high and goddess-like in the upper echelons of aspirational beauty.

Her enduring fame decades after her death stands as testament to her infinite ability to inspire and drive-wild all genders and ages in admiration. Alongside a bevy of beauties such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren, she redefined the female form and revamped the fashion realms.

The hourglass is synonymous with the screen siren’s form and style. Nipped waists with a strapless – mostly sweetheart – bodice cut a curvaceous silhouette and daring, flesh-flashing aesthetic. In keeping with a more demure and modest appearance, women would don a lace bolero for the ceremony and remove for the more informal reception. Flutter hems, Chantilly lace and skullcap headpieces were popular with brides as fashion once again became more readily accessible, marking the era of Ready to Wear or 'Prêt-à-Porter'.

The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and Grace Kelly’s marriage to Prince Rainier II popularised regal weddings and prompted the resurgence of Elizabethan style. Elizabeth Taylor embodied the look, and her gown from ‘Father of the Bride’ was the most mimicked style of the decade. 

The attitude of daring gained momentum into the late ‘50s and ‘60s where non-conformity and individualism were the historic hallmarks. Women morphed from Glamour Girls to Femme Fatales courtesy of screen sexpots such as Ursula Andress and Sophia Loren. The ‘Swinging ‘60s’ saw the genesis of the supermodel, mini-skirts and Pop Art, where geometric and monochrome dominated design. 


Taylor embodied the growing trend of exoticism and Orientalism – chiefly from her ‘Cleopatra’ appearance, which sparked a flourish of Egyptian design, beaded collars and heavy-duty eyeliner. 'Flower Power' and ethnic folkloric fashion swept the masses where style was diverse, multicultural and heavily non-conformist. Certain trends prevailed, such as ethnic wear: East Indian prints, Mexican embroidery and tie-dye with lashings of lace, flowers and floaty fabrics.

The bubble sheath, scooped neck and three quarter sleeves was a hot wedding trend, with the A-line being the premier shape from the mid-‘60s. Pillbox hats and shortie gloves were smart accessories and a pair of Mary Janes – square cut toe, chunky heeled shoes – was the only footwear to be seen in as the ‘70s dawned.

Street style began to fuse fashions, lifestyle and sport such as the skate culture made material impressions and the everyday became evening wear – such as the pant suit, bellbottoms and platforms. Stretch polyester double knit signified the transition to disco – and wedding gowns were no exception to the changing mood of fashion. 

With a romantic and slightly medieval edge, dresses were composed of draping fabrics, featuring drop back capelets, batwing sleeves and empire busts. The 'maxi', a floor length, Grecian style flowing gown or the ankle length 'midi' replaced the 'mini' hemline, and bell sleeves, Watteau trains and bathing cap type headpieces continued alongside disco fever into the ‘80s, which fast became a very different and show-stealing scene.


The age of New Romance dawned and a Princess captured the hearts, look and hopes of a world captivated by her story. The most photographed woman in the world, Diana was adored for her doe-eyed innocence and rising sense of fashion, ambition and character.

Her fairytale wedding gown was the most replicated style of the decade. Theatrical, ostentatious and romantic to the core, the sleeves were bigger than her head and the 25-foot long train more dramatic than anything previously seen before. The fantasy was made real, and chiffon, sheer fabrics, lace and organza materialised the dream. By the mid-‘80s, sparkle succeeded. Sequins, satin and beads with wreath style headbands were in demand, and puffball, tiered, ball gown styles were uncompromising statement makers.

The politics of punk and eventually grunge lapsed into the ‘90s, imposing various aspects on wedding attire from neon brights to Goth-like darks. The last decade of the millennium contained a range of movements, whereby wedding fashion was simplified via clean lines, neutral tones and understated design. 

Various trends prevailed. Boho hippy was the ‘90s version of the ‘60s/’70s and other decades were rehashed and revamped in a similar vein. The noughties encapsulated an ‘anything goes’ fusion of fashions, from origami to eco, architectural to futuristic.  

This year looks set to continue with previous trends such as asymmetry, rough cuts and layering but with an added emphasis on fabrics – specifically organza, tulle, chiffon, satin and taffeta. The idea is to mix multiple styles and materials and to create shape and style through folding, gathering, pleating, ruching and layering.

Gold leaf printed skirts, especially paisley and calligraphy, are very en vogue, and metallics are mainstream hip with gold and platinum making a reappearance. 

Necklines, corsets (think underwear as outerwear) and sleeves are all in the spotlight, ensuring personalisation is paramount whilst modern brides continue to bask in the bygone.