Wedding dresses as we know them today are typically white, or an off white or champagne color, perhaps with lace or embellishments. But what if this style of gown wasn’t always the norm?

During the 18th and 19th centuries, wedding dresses were far more likely to be red, as well as to have colors such as blue and green mixed in.

It wasn’t until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840 that wearing white for your wedding became popular and turned into the tradition we know today. (Related: If you’re anything like us, we can’t wait for the return of BBC America’s “Victoria.”)

Women in this time would simply wear their best dress, locally sourced and frequently used. It would sit in their wardrobe and they’d wear it again and again, no matter the color. White was also considered a hue for the wealthy, because of the difficulty of removing stains. The everyday woman didn’t have the time required to keep white clothing in a pristine state.

Was Victoria the first to sport white? No. Actually, her predecessor Queen Mary donned white as well, but something about Victoria’s celebrity made the color stick.

Actually, it’s probably due more to the fact that by the 1830s, less expensive magazines aimed at the general public started being published. Prior to that, magazines were very expensive and only the wealthy could afford them. 

Lady in Red?
*Pieces of Queen Victoria's wedding dress displayed in a scrapbook. 

When Victoria wed Albert, she not only helped to continue breaking the mold, but also opted to follow that of her people using only locally-sourced material and adornments. Victoria kept her dress in her possession and wore different parts of it throughout her life. She even brought out the lace of her dress for her golden jubilee.

Since 1840, the wedding dress has seen many changes in its evolution. From wartime wardrobe  downsizing in World War II, to modern-day color changes, such as Gwen Stefani’s bright pink gown, the wedding dress has never had a bad moment. It continues to be the ultimate showstopper on a woman’s Big Day.





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