Wedding Dress, 1905

Wedding photo of Grace Louise Fenton Ross, 1983.15.7
(Dress itself is 1983.15.4a-b, pattern at link.)

It's possible that a lot of lingerie dresses in collections were worn as wedding dresses - around the turn of the century, they were very popular for that use. Being white, they fit into the already-established but mainly upper-class wedding dress tradition, but being cotton, they were more affordable. Additionally, these white cotton dresses were fashionable and could be worn after the wedding, just as most women had done in earlier decades with colored gowns.

The belt from this one is gone, but the rest of the dress is in wonderful shape, apart from some yellowing. It is full of time-consuming details - lace insertion, pintucks - but because the fitting is achieved through the waistband and large pleats on either side of the back (the bodice is very loose and tucks into the skirt), it was a style ideal for the dawning of the age of ready-to-wear.

Judging by the photograph, the dress seems to have had drapey oversleeves that were later removed.

Comments

  1. I was lucky enough to inherit a relative's cotton wedding dress from about this era. It fit me well, only needing a camisole and long slip, plus a remake on the collar, which had been made of cotton lace and silk, and was frayed too badly to wear. So glad to see there are still some out there in good shape!

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    1. Very nice! My mother and I have my great-grandmother's, from 1920 or so. It's actually still in excellent shape (surprising as it was *not* kept in optimal conditions), but I believe the one time I fit into it was when I was 12. Tiny lady, was Grandma Ardis.

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  2. If it had been used as a wedding dress, I would expect to see a veil and some orange blossoms somewhere in the picture. What is more likely, is this is the honeymoon/reception dress (ie, what she changed into before leaving for the honeymoon) which would explain the lack of other more common but still affordable indications she is a bride.

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    1. That is plausible, too. The hangup for me, however, is what happened to the original wedding dress, and why is there no photograph of it? I can come up with reasons for this (perhaps one dress + photo was given to one child, while the reception dress + separate photos of herself and her husband to another), but I can also come up with reasons for this to be the wedding dress (perhaps there were multiple pictures at one time, one with veil, bouquet, orange blossoms, and husband directly after the ceremony, followed by another set after she removed the accessories for the reception). But both options seem equally plausible to me.

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