Bridal Gowns of the '30s

Written by vivienne lydamore
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Bridal Gowns of the '30s
Brides in the 1930s preferred sleek bridal gowns. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Fashion in the 1930s saw the return of the curvaceous feminine form. During the decade that began during the Great Depression, brides who could afford a bridal gown favoured the bias-cut, body-hugging silhouettes popularised by movies of the day. In order to economise, some brides in the 1930s had their bridal gowns dyed after the wedding and wore them for other occasions.

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Unlike the straighter silhouettes of the 1920s, the most popular gowns of the 1930s featured body-hugging bias cuts made popular by French designer Madeleine Vionnet and were worn by leading film actresses of the decade. Many bridal gowns seemed to flow in one continuous line from the shoulders down to the hem and train.

Bridal Gowns of the '30s
Bias-cut gowns from the silver screen influenced 1930s bridal gowns. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)


Natural fabrics such as silk, silk satin, silk charmeuse and silk crepe provided drape, movement, and subtle sheen to wedding gowns. Rayon provided a less expensive option than silk while maintaining some of the sheen and soft draping of silk. Other popular types of fabrics included brocade, lace, silk chiffon and silver lame.

Bridal Gowns of the '30s
Brocade fabric was used for '30s bridal gowns. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Bodice Details

Many bridal gowns of the 1930s had halter-style bodices with low backs. Others had wide fitted waist panels with gathered or fitted bustline details. A bodice could have demure lines with a gathered scoop neck, oriental inspiration with a mandarin collar or a high-necked brocade jacket with long sleeves and a Peter Pan collar.

A V-necked gown with a low back might also have a very conservative high-necked jacket with long sleeves. Sleeve options on wedding gowns varied from sleeveless to baby doll to long sleeves with gathered or fitted shoulders. Some long sleeves ended in points at the wrists.

Bridal Gowns of the '30s
A long-sleeved lace jacket covers a 1930s gown. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Skirt Details

During the 1930s, floor-length skirts could hug the hips and fall into a train or form a tulip shape that flared into a soft flounce and train. Fuller skirts fell naturally into flowing shapes rather than using crinolines to make them flare. Some bridal gowns or bridal coats had striking trains that showcased stunning lace, shimmery fabric or embellishments made of beads or embroidery.

Bridal Gowns of the '30s
The lace on this gown flows into a stunning train. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Surface Embellishment

Striking surface embellishments could take the form of wide bands of bugle beads crisscrossing at the V-neck and flowing over the shoulders to meet near the center back and flow down into the train. Other accents included form-fitting bias-cut flounces, wide lace ruffles along the arm edges of a halter bodice, or long rows of covered buttons.

On some gowns, the lace coat became the main embellishment, especially if worn over a form-fitting slip. For an overdress of netting, the embellishments could involve rows of delicate lace or sparingly used motifs made of tiny beads.

Bridal Gowns of the '30s
Lace details embellish the sleeves on '30s bridal gowns. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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