7 Decades of Wedding Dresses and How to Wear Them for Modern Times

See modern day counterparts to timeless 20s, 30s and 40s looks

Fashion model wearing a wedding dress created by Dior in 1974

 Photo by AFP/Getty Images

For vintage brides whose hearts yearn for the past, there's no need to feel trapped in the modern age on your wedding day. Whether you're a flower child or idolize Grace Kelly, find out how to don the decade that's calling your name.


Vintage bride and modern Galia Lahav dress
Photo by Getty Images (left) and Galia Lahav (right)

For the bride who wants to channel her inner Daisy Buchannan, 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. While this sexy mermaid fit on Galia Lahav's stunning Madison dress offers more contemporary flair, the vintage lace, glittering fabric, and dramatic train are all Gatsby. Add a dazzling headband or cloche hat and art deco-inspired jewelry to complete the look.


1930s wedding dress and modern
Photo: Getty Images (left) and Vamp Mados Namai (right)

While depression-era wedding dresses of the 1930s were simpler, their ladylike classy cuts were exuded pure elegance. Partly inspired by rising Hollywood glamour, the dresses featured a slightly dropped waist and tighter fit. Slinky silk and satin characterize today's '30s-inspired dresses, as seen in this show-stopping and figure-hugging number of sophisticated elegance that will make the bride feel like the starlet she is.


1940s wedding dress made modern
Photo: SSPL/Planet News Archive and Mon Cheri (right)

Wedding dresses from this era were definitely an extension of those from the 1930s, keeping things classic with movie star-inspired looks. Wartime darlings often walked the aisle in long, gathered sleeves, and corsets that accentuated the hourglass figure. The vintage-inspired dress's neckline is deepened with a plunging V on this Mon Cheri Vivian. Its flattering sheath cut and satin, ruched sleeves adorned with button enclosures, speak to the 1940s girl in your heart, while its blush hue, and pearl, and crystal-encrusted accents balance the vintage with the modern.


1950s Wedding dress made modern
Photo: The Denver Post, MediaNews Group/Getty Images (left) and Oscar de la Renta (right)

Dior's "New Look" in the 1950s featuring a cinched waist and full skirt largely influenced not just the era's style but also made an impact on wedding fashion. The 1950s witnessed the rise of the ball gown with a princess-line skirt, most of which featured a scooped neckline or off-the-shoulder collar. This silk Oscar de la Renta beauty epitomizes just that, complete with taffeta origami embroidery.


1960s wedding dress made modern
Photo: Martin LladA/Getty Images (left) and Tobi Hannah (right)

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. This Tobi Hannah dress echoes the '60s classic silhouette and is a mix of short and sweet, yet understated and refined with a full skirt and delicate brocade bodice.


1970s wedding dress made modern
 Photo: Getty Images (left) and Delphine Manivet (right)

The bohemian style was one of the hallmarks of 1970s wedding dresses, with long flowy sleeves cascading down the forearm. More soft and feminine than eclectic, the dresses played with draped material for a unique look that was both romantic and classic with a hint of whimsy (and definitely took a page from 1920s styles). Ethereal romance meets timeless classic in this silk chiffon Delphine Manivet, perfect for the free spirit looking for a little polish.


1980s wedding dress made modern
Photo: Nick Dolding/Getty Images (left) and Paloma Blanca (right)

One word, BIG, that was the theme of the 1980s wedding look, from the wild hair to the puffed sleeves, and oversized skirts. Cathedral trains and collared necklines were in vogue, thanks to Princess Diana's royal wedding, complete with lace and frills. With a beaded lace bodice, cap sleeves, and organza ruffles, this Paloma Blanca beauty is a modern take on the '80s trends, integrating them ever so minimally for a subtly updated, princess look.

Related Stories