Glamor and the Great Depression: Wedding Dresses of the 1930s

Evelyn Peters Kyle later wrote a history of early Pasadena.
Evelyn Peters Kyle later wrote a history of early Pasadena.

Evelyn Peters achieved this dreamy look with lots of affordable netting, in both the veil and dress.  Other brides wore the wedding dress their mother, grandmother or other relative had worn.  Such a dress had great sentimental value, and the price was right.

Julia Hills Whitney, 1991 and Jean Eastwood Collins, 1939.
Julia Hills Whitney, 1991 and Jean Eastwood Collins, 1939.

This classic 1890s dress has leg-of-mutton sleeves.  It was worn again in 1939. Around 1930, designers began to cut silk on the bias (on the diagonal, rather than along the horizontal and vertical threads in the woven cloth).  The bias cut gave a little stretch  and a beautiful drape, so dresses became slinky and hugged a woman’s curves.

Streamlined, architectural gowns

Women were interested in what celebrities were wearing.   Actress Jean Harlow is still famous for her dress in “Dinner at Eight.”  Wallis Simpson married the former king of Great Britain in a bias-cut gown of blue silk.

 Wilma Maguire married in a reproduction of a royal bride’s gown, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark, who married Prince George, Duke of Kent, in 1934.
Wilma Maguire's train attaches at shoulders and ends with a fishtail hem.
Wilma Maguire’s train attaches at the shoulders and ends with a fishtail hem.

Barbara Cheesewright, the daughter of a well-known interior designer, apparently loved color.  Her wedding gown is aqua in natural light (but mint green in the exhibit gallery, which has colored walls).  She chose the same color for her veil and headpiece, at left above.  Under the brim of  the headpiece, she placed delphiniums, which are often blue.  I am not sure they were blue flowers, but I like to picture them that way, complementing  her aqua dress. Barbara Cheesewright's wedding gown 004 (600x800)

Barbara Cheesewright's 1936 wedding gown
Barbara’s 1936 gown has a six-foot train.

There are three seams below the neck and three at the side, where there is usually a utilitarian dart. The three seams extend under the arm to the back. These dresses are on display at the Pasadena Museum of History until July 14.  To see more online, see the Women Writing the West blog:   http://www.womenwritingthewest.blogspot.com/2013/05/four-brides-and-their-dresses.html Barbara Cheesewright's wedding gown 001 (600x800)

Barbara Cheesewright's wedding gown 002 (600x800)

Author: Pamela Tartaglio

Fiction writer, blogger and a past president of Women Writing the West.

2 thoughts on “Glamor and the Great Depression: Wedding Dresses of the 1930s”

  1. The gowns here are just beautiful, and I love how you have matched some dresses with a picture of the bride. Thanks for popping by my little corner of the world and leaving your lovely comments.

    And thanks Petrea for sharing the link 🙂 xx

    Like

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