Explore The Digital Issue
wedding dresses from different eras
the digital issue

8 Decades of Wedding Dress Styles and How to Wear Them Today

Learn how to update timeless looks from the '20s to the '90s and wear them for contemporary nuptials.

If you consider yourself a vintage-loving bride whose heart is firmly rooted in the past, you shouldn't feel required to wear ultra-contemporary attire on your wedding day. Whether you're a self-proclaimed flower child or idolize Grace Kelly, know that you can find a wedding-day look that channels another era while still feeling right at home in modern times.

Curious what brides of the past wore for their walks down the aisle? Ahead, we're sharing stunning looks from bygone eras and offering advice that will help you dress for whatever decade is calling your name.


1920s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Jessica Mangia / Design by Tiana Crispino

For the bride who wants to channel her inner Daisy Buchannan, remember that embroidered lace and ornate, elegant beading glamorized the flapper brides of the Jazz Age. Loose, straight silhouettes and floor-length veils that flowed into trains were staples of roaring '20s wedding fashion. This stunning Reem Acra dress from a Lake Como wedding has all the ornate details incorporated in the embroidery for a Jazz Age flair but in a cool, modern cut.


1930s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Kaley From Kansas / Design by Tiana Crispino

While the Depression-era wedding dresses of the 1930s were far simpler than those worn in the decade prior, their ladylike classy cuts were exuded pure elegance. Partly inspired by rising Hollywood glamour, the dresses regularly featured slightly drop waists, tighter fits, and puffed sleeves. If you love this look, consider wearing a retro-inspired style similar to this custom Danielle Frankel creation, which was made for a New York wedding.


1940s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by David Bastianoni / Design by Tiana Crispino

Wedding dresses from this era continued to build on the looks that were popular in the 1930s, keeping things classic with movie star-inspired looks. Wartime darlings often walked the aisle in long, gathered sleeves, corsets that accentuated the hourglass figure, and v-neck shapes. Update the style for the 2020s with a stunning plunging neckline similar to this beautiful Berta gown at an Amalfi coast ceremony. The illusion neckline brings some of the old-time elegance to the sexy style.


1950s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Haseok Chung Studio / Design by Tiana Crispino

In the 1950s, Dior's "New Look," which featured a cinched waist, higher neckline, and full skirt, largely influenced the era's style as a whole, but it's worth noting that it also made a real impact on wedding fashion. The result? The 1950s witnessed the rise of the ball gown with a princess-line skirt. This stunning Vera Wang ball gown from a wedding at a New York castle brings that look to the modern times with the stunning lace bodice and whimsical tulle skirt.


1960s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Brogen Jessup / Design by Tiana Crispino

If you're a hippie at heart, the mod, straight silhouettes, and boat necklines of the swinging '60s might be your cup of tea—literally. In tune with this revolutionary decade, wedding dress hemlines were raised to just below the knee, finally signifying acceptance of tea length, and short wedding dresses. Brides today can embrace that short hemline and add a fun textural and modern flair. We love how this bride wore a mini dress covered in feathers for her San Diego nuptials.


1970s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Reem Photography / Design by Tiana Crispino

The bohemian style was one of the hallmarks of 1970s wedding dresses, along with a whole new selection of fun accessories. The bridal hat is one trend that was made famous by Bianca Jagger to add some cool to a wedding day look. Well, bridal hats are back and can definitely make a statement, as evidenced by this Brooklyn bride's standout accessory. We also love how she added white boots to bring some edge to her look.


1980s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Ninety Three Creative / Design by Tiana Crispino

If we had to describe the 1980s wedding look in one word, it would be "big." From the wild hair to the puffed sleeves and oversized skirts, women in the 1980s went all-out when choosing their wedding attire. Cathedral trains and collared necklines were also in vogue, and that's thanks to Princess Diana's royal wedding, complete with lace and frills. While the sleeves of the '80s might feel a bit too retro, we are loving the bold sleeve on this bride's Monique Lhuillier gown at her Cincinnati wedding. With more structure to her sleeves, a detachable cape, and crisp fabric, the style feels like a modern update to the era's dramatic styles.


1990s bridal style

Getty Images / Photo by Eager Heart Photography / Design by Tiana Crispino

The '90s ushered in an era of minimalist styles as a sharp contrast to the bold looks of the '80s. This was definitely seep in wedding fashion, as brides turned to sleek shapes and simple accessories to walk down the aisle. The minimalist look is definitely still in for many brides today with a few trendy updates. This bride chose a body-skimming design by Justin Alexander featuring modern cut-outs to give a sexy touch to her wedding day look.

Related Stories