Friday, September 4th, 2015 08:20 am
Okay, so I follow the FIDM blog, and I saw their posts about wedding dresses from the Larson Collection today. I usually don't question their facts, but what the hell is going on with the 2 Victorian dresses? Please educate me if I'm wrong, but those are not wedding dresses. The 60's one looks like a ball gown, and the 80's one looks like a court presentation dress. (don't even get me started on provenance - that sort of "evidence" is so full of human error that I rarely trust it) Everything that I've ever seen about Victorian wedding dresses tells me that they always had sleeves... just like royal wedding dresses still do today. Maybe these are alternate bodices that were switched out after the church ceremony, but they were still part of the wedding festivities. There are lots of photos of royals in sleeveless bodiced "wedding gowns", but most of those were taken after the wedding, so who knows if they were the same gowns worn at the church or for dinners and dancing after the ceremony. But I've never seen anything from a period source that led me to believe that a Victorian woman would wear a sleeveless bodice for her actual wedding dress. These tarted up bodices seems quite scandalous for a holy matrimony!

Am I wrong about this one? I'd love to learn something new if I am, so please feel free to correct me. I just feel like this FIDM post is misleading, and it annoys me if it is.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:04 pm (UTC)
I'll admit I know nothing about victorian wedding dresses, but the whole post had me thinking #throwaveilonit
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)
I agree. There are photos of royal Victorian ladies in sleeveless dresses circling the internet and they are said to be wedding portraits. And maybe they are. But I've also thought that sometimes the court presentation veil might make people assume it's a wedding portrait and label it as such. I don't know, I haven't looked in to it.
And perhaps royals had a wedding ball where they would wear a low cut bodice, but I don't think they would have entered the church in a sleeveless dress.
ALTHOUGH, there are paintings of queen Victoria's wedding ceremony in which she is wearing a short sleeved dress, so I don't know what to think about that.
Edited 2015-09-04 02:43 pm (UTC)
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC)
To be fair, the 1880s info blurb says that the dress was "remodeled" to be a court dress and "we can only guess" at how it originally looked. Not sure about the 1860s one, though. That's not a regular morning wedding dress style, no matter how much remodeling was done.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:46 pm (UTC)
Oops - I missed that line! I just skimmed the text and was mainly looking at the photo caption that says "wedding dress". I wouldn't have been so annoyed if it had said "court presentation gown remodeled from a wedding dress".

Glad to know I'm not crazy about the 60's one.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 03:11 pm (UTC)
It's written in a chatty article-type way - annoying, though, when the pictures are actually discussed! And I agree that it would not be appropriate for an Orthodox wedding. Though it could have been worn for an evening reception later; I have no idea what Eastern European royalty did. Typically English/American weddings were small at the church in the morning, then back to the house for the wedding breakfast, then the going-away; no evening receptions until after the trip. There was variation even then, though. I might poke around and refresh my memory, since you've got me curious now.

On a totally different topic, do you have any scraps of gray silk I can buy from you? I'm still trying to figure out how to do my aubergine jacket, but silk binding seems fairly common.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:21 pm (UTC)
I don't know enough of Victorian wedding dresses to really say BUT I will say that I could imagine the sleeveless one having been a wedding gown that was remodeled to be a ballgown...or, given it's the gown of the Queen of Romania, it's possible there were regional differences in terms of wedding gowns there.

And they say the 80s was was a wedding gown that was remodeled to be a presentation gown, so you're both right. ;)
Edited 2015-09-04 02:24 pm (UTC)
Friday, September 4th, 2015 02:52 pm (UTC)
Isn't Romania an Orthodox country? I can't imagine any woman entering an Orthodox Church in such a revealing dress. You certainly couldn't wear that in their churches now, so I find it hard to believe anybody wore it for a wedding then. But I'm probably being a brat by insisting that a wedding dress was the one worn in a church vs. for the after party. I don't doubt that this was part of a remodeled wedding dress or an evening version of it, but I just hate it when modern audiences are led to believe that victorian ball gowns were worn for the actual ceremony. It's a silly pet peeve of mine.
Edited 2015-09-04 03:01 pm (UTC)
Friday, September 4th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC)
" I just hate it when modern audiences are led to believe that victorian ball gowns were worn for the actual ceremony."


In fact, I still think it's weird that modern bridal fashion is based on evening or cocktail attire instead of daywear. I suppose that's what is behind this assumption. People now associate a low necked, evening look with wedding gowns. :P

Friday, September 4th, 2015 03:13 pm (UTC)
That's a good point. Maybe it's because most weddings now take place in the evening, or at least afternoon? So evening/cocktail wear makes sense. In the 19th century at least, they usually took place in the morning. Hence "wedding breakfast."
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 04:18 pm (UTC)
The "bare shoulders, low neckline" trend is a really, really, really modern one, like, 1980s or 1990s modern, mostly. And fits with the general "if you're a woman and want to dress up, take of those sleeves" theme. It's funny how fashion changes and the masses just forget about it...
Sunday, September 6th, 2015 12:30 pm (UTC)
Queen Elisabeth and King Carol were married in Germany in 1869 (where they were both born) and did not ascend to the Romanian throne until 1881. The Romanian king and queen were not allowed to be romanian during this time.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 05:30 pm (UTC)
I wonder if the ELisabeth of Romania dress might have been what we'd think of as a reception dress, not the dress worn for the actual ceremony, which I would imagine had considerable more lace and veils and embellishment.
Friday, September 4th, 2015 06:57 pm (UTC)
I don't know whether it was the case in America (or parts thereof) or anywhere else, but in England you couldn't get married after some particular hour of the day (noon, I think, though their definition of morning differed a bit from ours so the cutoff might not actually have been 12:00) during at least part of the Victorian period. I don't know when those laws may have changed, but it's definitely a plot device in novels of the period (sad bride having to leave the church because her bridegroom didn't show up in time...). So they definitely would have been wearing day dresses, not evening dresses.

I can't speak for Eastern Europe so I really don't have any opinion there. Perhaps it was an evening wedding and acceptable, perhaps not. Perhaps being a royal wedding changes the rules a bit. Perhaps it's not the gown worn for the church ceremony but some evening event associated with it. Pure speculation on my part. It's a gorgeous dress though.
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 06:08 am (UTC)
That 1869 wedding dress probably is a real wedding dress... there are some (not lots, but some) paintings, illustrations and photos out there of posh mid-victorian weddings in progress or the wedding party leaving the church or that have the bride in a low bodice even if no one else is, so I don't think there's reason to think all the ones we see extant today were all remade into evening dresses or there was another bodice actually used in the wedding that's now gone. It shows up in fashion plates and posed wedding photos as well, mostly 50s-early 70s. Obviously some are staged and not of a real event, but it was out there in the culture of the time.

There's a fairly famous 1860s Russian painting called Unequal Marriage that shows an Orthodox wedding where the bride is wearing a standard low bodice formal wedding dress. There's also some by a painter named Zhuravlyov called Before the Wedding or Before Marriage that have the bride in the same style of dress having cold feet in front of an icon corner. At weddings held in royal chapels in the 19th century they'd have parked you in the balcony if you didn't have have proper court dress on. Check out google images, you can only tell the religious difference between royal families by how the priest is dressed. ;)
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 10:42 am (UTC)
Fascinating! I had no idea that was a thing. Thanks for the info - I love learning new things!
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 10:47 am (UTC)
BTW - I love that Unequal Marriage painting. I had never seen that one before. My mind is a little blown to see that sort of dress in front of an Orthodox priest. :) It's so rare that modern standards of modesty are stricter than Victorian ones!
Sunday, September 6th, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, that is a fascinating painting, thanks for sharing!
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 10:16 am (UTC)
there is a book on royal wedding dresses and yes, low ball gown bodices, full veils. Not only in single portraits but wide scenes of the whole wedding.

Royals were a whole different kettle of fish with coronations inside church so weddings too.

I got most of my pics offline, but all of Victoria's daughters. Victorias dress too,
pretty irrefutable!
I think Alex's wedding was recorded in a similar fashion.

Saturday, September 5th, 2015 10:39 am (UTC)
Victoria herself:
I can't find the book online. Yet.
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 10:51 am (UTC)
Thanks for telling me about these paintings! I actually love it when people can prove me wrong with new-to-me info! :)
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC)
Very interesting discussion ! I tend to be leery of accepting the "wedding dress" tag as so many people just accept the idea that white dress=bride or "my great-aunt said so so it's true". unless the provenance info is irrefutable or it's covered in orange blossoms, I stick with "it MAY have been a bridal dress.
I don't agree when they say white got "irrevocably associated with bridal wear" by the mid-19th century. White was worn for evening wear, too, way after 1850 !
Saturday, September 5th, 2015 06:45 pm (UTC)
And traditional graduation dresses (at least in the southern U.S.) were white, before the whole cap and gown thing...the Ursuline school in Dallas still uses them. The Dominican high school in Houston has white caps and gowns.

It's as bad as saying something is a mourning dress because it's black.
Monday, September 7th, 2015 11:00 am (UTC)
I agree with you. long sleeves for a wedding gown, but somewhere I read something of making the wedding gown with long sleeves only basted in for the ceremony, so it would be easy to make it into a ball gown after. And given how much people re-made clothes, it seems very likely.