Vintage Sewing

Wedding Dress Pattern Retrospective : 40’s thru the 80’s

April 5, 2011
It’s been a whirlwind wedding week over at my blog sewcountrychick where I am doing a readers’ wedding dress show and tell this Sunday! I put togather a little retrospective of vintage patterns below I found on Etsy

Late 40’s or very early fifties. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen long sleeves on a weding gown. Am I not the only person sick of strapless wedding dresses a la “Say Yes To The Dress?” Which is your favorite? See the rest …

Another 40’s pattern. 
The fifties style . Notice the influence of Diors “New Look”. The war is over and it’s time to use yards of fabric again!
Late 50’s. This one really reminds me of something Grace Kelly would have worn.
 Early sixties.

 Early sixties
Early 60’s maybe1964? Jackie- O style.

Mid 60’s mod styles.

1973.This is for the newly liberated gal. The Charlie girl!
1973. As you can see the hippie bohemian influence has filtered down to the masses.
1974. Does anyone remember Holly Hobby?
This looks more like a prom dress from the 80’s but I had to include it if only to spotlight those sleeves.
To me this is the ultimate 80’s look. Note the Brooke Shields style bushy eyebrows on the girls faces! Leg of Mutton sleeves anyone?

Is there anyone on Sew Retro who specializes in making 80’s remakes? I’d love to see that.

  1. I completely agree with being tired of strapless dresses. Granted, I'm also bitter because I recently got married. Specifically, I got married in a church. Not only the the stores mainly carry strapless and sleeveless dresses, but their selection of jackets is just as bad as their selection of dresses with sleeves. I think you're expected to just throw something over your shoulders, who cares how it looks, for the wedding, and then just ditch it for the rest of the day. Not at all flattering, forget practical.

    BTW, your link to your blog is broken, it's just "sewcountrychick"

  2. I'm sick of strapless dresses, too.

    Of course, I own both of those prairie-style patterns, which are pretty much the full-coverage opposite of strapless, right? Ha ha.

    I do like the jacket over that Charlie-girl dress, though, even though I'd never do a halter-top.

  3. I am almost positive that the last Butterick pattern there, 4743, is the one my mother used to make me a dress for a debutante ball in 1989 (or so). I wonder if either she or I still have that …

  4. This is a great post! I really love the '40's and the hippy inspired patterns. I would never have a strapless dress, and my friend who is getting married next year is so set against it she is having her dress made to avoid the multitudes of similar gowns in the shops. This makes me happy as she is not someone who is into dressmaking but hopefully she will come to appreciate the skills of a good seamstress.

  5. My 1974 wedding dress is exactly the same as view 1 in the 1974 pattern you scanned…except that I bought it from a post-prom sale rack. It was a Gunnee Sax label. Anyone remember that?

    Two of my girls got married this year and neither wore strapless. They never even considered that style, so hooray for bucking a trend!

  6. What awesome patterns! It just goes to show you that fashions do tend to come around again at some point. My daughters are wearing tops like I wore in the 70's & 80's

  7. Thanks for sharing this. I really love some of these wedding-dresses, especially those of the '40's and '50's. That McCall 6353 is gorgeous! When I get married, I don't want a strapless-dress. It feels like that's (=strapless) the only choice in wedding dresses these days.

    Tilia of Linden blossoms in my tea

  8. I agree on the strapless gowns too. I wore a strapless under gown with a sheer, bateau neck over gown. The fact is, strapless is not the most flattering look for everyone! And on it's own, some people (ME!) just don't have what it takes to hold one up 🙂 It seems the stores are carrying 99 % strapless gowns today. My sisters are getting married, and I have been emailing photos of slinky 30s gowns to my older sister. It'll be really neat to see all of the photos people send in to you.

  9. My mother's wedding dress was made from the first early sixties pattern! And I plan to make my own wedding dress from the identical pattern (I'll be a late-in-life bride!). It is fun to see it here. One of the reasons I want to make my own wedding dress is because I, too, am sick of strapless wedding dresses. They don't look good on you if you are heavy, they don't look good on you if you are super thin. I think Halle Berry is probably the only person who really looks fabulous in a strapless gown!

  10. I did not go strapless 20 years ago, either, more Gone With The Wind style of slightly off the shoulder caps, like a ballgown. Most clergy won't say anything now, but in the Catholic Church, your shoulders are not supposed to be completely bare, anytime. I do not think the custom has changed, people just ignore it. You should have a shrug, stole, something.

  11. I love the old patterns for wedding dresses. the dress of today have nothing on the vintage ones. And the dress from the 40's and 50's have the most style-so elegant.

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