Why white wedding dresses became popular in the Western World
Nice day for a… white wedding dress image, photographed by Kuznetcov Konstantin (via Shutterstock).
610 years ago since this time of writing, Philippa of England broke new ground. In her marriage to Eric of Pomerania, she wore a white wedding dress made of white silk, a tunic, and cloak. This was topped with a grey squirrel and ermine collar. Little did we know, 610 years later, that white wedding dresses would become a popular choice.
Then, in 1559, Mary, Queen of Scots married Francis Dauphin of France. On marrying her first husband, she opted for a white wedding dress, as white was her favourite colour. There was only one problem: white, a la France, was a colour of mourning for French queens. At the time, not a good choice.
Queen Victoria: an unlikely style icon
Before 1840, the bride wore the smartest dress she could find. Colour didn’t matter. This was down to the bride’s preferences (and she could have had pink with yellow spots, if available in 1754). Then came the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. On the 10 February 1840, Queen Victoria tied the knot with a white dress. She had a piece of fine lace that she wanted to add to the dress. Hence the fact she opted for white.
Shortly after her wedding, the white wedding dress became de rigeur in the Western World. In later years, white was associated with purity, though blue had previously been connected with piety, faithfulness, and the Virgin Mary. With the Royal Family being a source of interest among Victorian households in the UK, they also captured the zeitgeist in the fashions of the day. To a smaller extent, this remains the case; for instance with the Duchess of Cambridge’s personal wardrobe.
How white is a white wedding dress?
Sometimes, the white dresses could be as ice cold as the Elsa character in Frozen. Wedding white can also be off white. For example, in shades like eggshell, ecru, and ivory.
Not only white…
Mint green, peach, and shades of blue have been offered as alternatives to the usual white. Before Victorian times, black was a popular wedding dress colour in Scandinavia. In Far Eastern countries, red is the colour of choice. Red is seen as a colour of good luck in China, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam. White is seen as a funereal colour.