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How to be a Retro Swinging 1960s Bride

An icon of the swinging 60s was the mini dress. A dress is considered a mini if its hemline is above the knee. They include slip and shift styles still in vogue today. I well remember folding over the waist of my school uniform skirt as soon as I was out of the school grounds and changing my long skirt into a cool mini skirt.

Slip, shift, sheath style mini dresses

Mary Quant took the world by storm when she raised the hemlines high above the knee and created stunning op art and geometric patterned dresses. Soon the strapless mini sheath became a popular wedding style. Sometimes brides teamed mini dresses with a suit jacket. Mini slip or shift dresses cut just above the knee were also popular used with a sheer wrap or a cocoon coat.

Suit jacket, sheer wrap or cocoon coat

Very short mini dresses look best on slim, petite and athletic figures. If you have a curvy figure then a knee length dress would be suitable. The fabrics for wedding dress in the 60s; damask, brocade, wool jersey, faille, gabardine, textured pique or chunky lace.

Damask, brocade, chunky lace fabrics

Other styles included for example white satin and lace dresses with metallic thread. Also short dresses in French machined embroidered satin with a rich floral motif in gold and cream floss silk thread with a boat neckline with a bow on the waist band. Often the dresses were covered with a fine cotton machine laced coat.

Boat neckline, bow at waist, laced coat

Some of the stars who favored the mini as a wedding dress were Cilla Black, Sharon Tate, Audrey Hepburn and Mia Farrow. Sharon’s mini wedding dress was made of moiré in a puff sleeved style. Audrey chose a space-age funnel neck mini wedding dress. Cilla wore a white maribou feathered mini dress with a belt. None of the brides wore a veil.

Puff sleeves, space-age, funnel neck, feathers, belt, no veils

The mini has been revived a number of times. It became popular in the 1980s when Azzedine Alaia created the tight micro mini in stretch Lycra knits and the mini-crinis and puffball skirts were also in vogue. During the early 21st century designers like Vera Wang have re-launched the strapless mini dress. She also created a beautiful mini slip style dress overlaid with sheer sequined lace.

Puffball skirts, strapless mini           

Another trend during the 1960s was for romantic, nostalgic themes from peasant styles to historical dress. These styles have continued to the present day Vivienne Westwood set the standard for this style in 1980s and 1990s. Also popular were Empire Regency style dresses inspired by Jane Austin novels

Mood Board created by Rosena on sampleboard.com

Romantic, Jane Austin Regency styles

Hesta Singlewood’s designs for head dresses also reflect the historical interest. She designed a feathered half style hat head dress a popular style during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Veil’s if used were often short and made of three layers of tulle stitched onto a plastic comb. Sometimes two large decorative organdie flowers were fixed to the comb. Hats were popular made up of artificial flowers and leaves in pink, cream and white with a coarse net veiling. Shoes were cream lace or mushroom suede with pointed toes and high stiletto heels.

Short veils and hats

Slim narrow empire line style dresses in ivory rayon satin with jacquard pattern in a spray of lily of the valley and fern design have been popular from the 1890s to the 1990s. During the 1960s if a train was used it was separate from the dress and attached on the waist seam at the back of the dress.

Empire line dresses

Bridesmaids often had romantic dress styles. Simple posies of white daisies as a peasant theme were a popular choice in the 1960s. Also in vogue were formal bouquets in lace collars. Flower balls were very popular and often attached to the wrists of young bridesmaids with ribbons toned to match their dresses.

Bridesmaids romantic style, white daisies, flower balls

Heavy white satin dress with broad sashes in pink and other colors. Bridesmaids dressed in the empire style dresses in jacquard patterns in colors like hyacinth blue satin. Bouquets in shades of cream and blue were in vogue colors selected to match the dress. Trendy bridesmaids wore Grecian perm or pixie elfish crop hair styles. Instead of dresses short culottes suits in colored or black crepe often a frilly blouse and white boots to finished the look.

Mood Board created by Rosena on sampleboard.com

So there you have it you can be a quirky swinging 60s bride or a romantic regency bride. You can play around with your wedding themes as I have on sampleboard.com the digital mood board editor. It’s a great way to find out what you like and what goes with what. There are hundreds of images and creative options.

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