Has the wedding dress always been white?
Let’s retrace some historical periods together and find out where the custom of the white wedding dress was born
Today we want to talk to you about a curiosity that some of you have already wondered: Has the classic color of the wedding dress always been white?
To answer this question we must first specify that the meaning we give today to the wedding dress, linked above all to the wedding traditions that regard it as shape and color, is a relatively recent thing. In the past, it did not fall into a real category of clothes but rather aligned itself with the trends dictated by the fashion of the period, trying to represent them in the best possible way and perhaps describing them in a more sumptuous way, with greater attention to detail or with the use of more precious fabrics than other dresses. There were no precise rules or patterns to respect for this dress and in many ancient societies it was a sort of “showcase” to be able to best represent the economic power of the future bride’s family.
From this parenthesis linked to the meaning that the wedding dress had in the past, we can therefore deduce that it could be of different colors and shapes.
Wedding Dresses From Ancient Times
In ancient Egypt, brides wore long skirts, covered with a simple linen overcoat, so light it seemed transparent. Equally simple and essential was the dress used in classical Greece: a linear and long robe on which the chlamys (a type of short and light cloak) was draped, all adorned with cords that encircled the waist.
As for ancient Rome, the dress becomes the emblem of the family prestige of the future bride and was made up of a simple white or yellow tunic tightened at the waist by a belt to which an important decorative accessory was then added, a veil from intense saffron color.
The black color was used in the tunics of the wedding dresses of the Longobard girls, then enriched by red cloaks that reached up to the ankles; color, the latter which then remained a favorite even during the Middle Ages because it was a symbol of the ability to procreate, of royalty and fertility, let’s remember that the color red was one of the most expensive to create and other shades of warm colors were also added.
The first documented white wedding dress dates back to 1406 and belonged to Princess Filippa, daughter of Henry IV of England. A century and a half later, Mary Queen of Scots, crowned Queen of Scotland when she was only nine months old, chose for her wedding with Francis II of France, in 1558, a white dress, going against the tide, and against all good wishes: for the French royals the white was in fact the color of mourning.
In the 18th century, on the other hand, we live a period of splendor for many aspects of life which are therefore represented with great opulence and among these aspects there is also fashion and consequently the wedding dress that is colored in more striking colors such as violet, salmon pink, sky blue and lilac, also using many fabrics with floral motifs that were able to fully express this idea of splendor of the period.
At the end of this century, with the French Revolution, instead, a more sober style is returned, the famous “empire style” which brings back into vogue, obviously in a revisited way, a line that is very reminiscent of the Roman one, very simple, with the typical cut under the breast and then fall softly on the hips; heavy fabrics with showy decorations are no longer used but others are lighter and, above all, the colors are delicate again and are added to white and silver; “forced” choices, let’s say, due to the continental blockade with which Napoleon prevented the importation of fabrics and colors into Europe.
Subsequently, with the fall of Napoleon, bridal clothing is enriched with flounces and pleats and the empire style sets, the waistline is increasingly marked giving rise to wide and very rich skirts.
Queen Victoria`s White Dress
The white dress became a very popular option among brides around 1840, thanks to the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha ; the queen wore a white dress for the event, adorned with some lace. The official wedding photo had a wide circulation, and the queen’s dress was adopted by many brides.
Since then he imposed the fashion of white, even to this day remains without doubt the main color for the wedding dress and also spread the belief that the choice of the color white represents virginity and elegance but, currently, the white dress is intended simply as the most traditional choice for marriage, and not necessarily as a symbol of purity.