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Always the Bridesmaid: Dress Styles throughout the Decades

Bridesmaid's dresses are always the talk of the town, whether good or bad (and sometimes shockingly bad)! So I thought I'd invite you all to take a trip down the decades with me to see if any of these modern interpretations of bygone eras spark some inspiration for your big day! I say bring back the puffy dresses...but I'm just strange like that!


I am a huge Jane Austen fan and in my days of working in the theatre, I adapted and directed two Jane Austen productions so spent a lot of time choosing Regency dresses and I think they would make stunning bridesmaid's dresses! It's all about softness and sophistication with flowing fabrics and soft pastel colours which would be perfect for any wedding inspired by English country cottages and traditional Afternoon Teas!

My recommendation for a wedding supplier that can help you achieve a look inspired by this era is the fab Matchimony with their beautiful range of bridesmaid's dresses.


If you're a fan of corsets and big dresses then this might just be the way to go! Particularly fitting with Steampunk and Gothic styles, Victorian inspiration carries poise and femininity in abundance and personally I would be so excited if I was asked to wear a Victorian inspired, Alice in Wonderland-esque, gown as a bridesmaid! Talk about Princess for the day!

A few of my favourite suppliers that can help you achieve this look are the super cool dress & corset maker Engineers of Desire and the amazing lace boots from House of Elliot!


The fashion of the Roaring 20s really was the height of sophistication and is a great style to go for as we are now back into the 20s again! Your girls will be sure to sparkle and jingle down the aisle in fully beaded gowns and glitzy sparkly hair accessories. This style suits both long and short gowns as well so you'll be sure to find a style that suits all of your picky bridesmaids!

If you're liking this look then check out Eliza Jane Howell's stunning Roaring 20s Collection and for beautiful hairpieces then Peacock + Pearl are definitely worth a browse!


The 1940s saw the introduction of the glorious victory rolls which will really top off a fabulous 40s look at your wedding. Gowns saw floral lace patterns emerging and a new take on different types of sleeves including off-the-shoulder designs. The dreaded ruffled bridesmaid dresses started to make an appearance in the late 40s as well!

My favourite wedding supplier that can help you create this look is vintage makeover company Le Keux.


Perhaps the most iconic of bridesmaid looks, the 50s were the petticoat, tea length era full of poodle skirts and Mary Janes! Tea length dresses make wonderful bridesmaids dresses but don't forget the petticoat, it makes them even more spectacular! Soft pastel colours were replaced with bright colours and polkadot patterns and it really was the era of fashion fun! My bridesmaids at my own wedding were in autumnal floral 50s inspired dresses from Lindy Bop.


The 70s were the era of the original boho styles that have become so popular today! Flower crowns were the perfect flower power hair accessory and crochet style lace and tulip shaped sleeves were the soup of the day. Earthy tones such as mustard yellow and burnt orange make great bohemian colours as well as sophisticated creams and browns. For the ultimate 70s boho look go for flat shoes or no shoes at all!

For sophisticated dried florals including spectacular flower crowns check out the awesome Bohotanical!

Image by Marnie Cornell Photography


Or as I like to call it - the decade of awesome! What was not to love about 80s fashion and pop culture?! The puffy sleeves and ruffles returned with a bang and metallic and bright colours graced every 80s wedding! Be careful though, because the 80s also saw the most embarrassing bridesmaid dresses of all time!

Although they do all eras of vintage restyled dresses, Bridal Flamingo is definitely one to check out if you're looking for some vintage one of a kind pieces!


Sometimes labelled as the decade that fashion forgot, the 90s saw away with ruffles, tulle and lots of fabric to make way for slinky, sexier, silk figure hugging dresses reminiscent of teen movies of the era and the iconic bridesmaid dresses worn by Rachel and Phoebe in FRIENDS at Monica's wedding. If you're looking for 90s inspiration then go for the slinky spaghetti strap dresses that leave nothing to the imagination!

Image by Robert Evans Photography

There's so much to learn from looking back at fashion styles over the years including what not to do! All of these styles can be modernised to make them the height of sophistication so go for it! Whatever your style, own it with confidence and you and your girls will rock it on your big day! And just for you guys, here's a snap of my bridesmaids at my Halloween autumnal wedding...

Lily x

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