Secrets Hidden in a 1916 Net Lace Wedding Gown

It’s no secret that I’m into vintage fashion, bigtime! And no matter where and why I travel, I find time to source some special pieces for the Mobile Millinery Museum & Costume Archive. This past July was not different; I picked up some stunning and historically important pieces on my travels which I will blog about later, but waiting for me upon my return, was a 1916 net lace wedding gown donated by Mississauga resident, Jim Spencer.

The dress with its hand crocheted baubles and beautiful star, sunflower, and vine lace motifs tells a tale of three brides. The gown which was first worn by Spencer’s grandmother in 1916 made a second debut at his mother’s wedding in 1945 and was further showcased by her daughter (Spencer’s sister) c. 1970.

A bit of fashion archaeology reveals some basic style changes and alterations: The original Gibson Girl silhouette was altered to more closely represent the princess lines more typical of 1940s styling through the removal of the dress’s original bridal collar and point sleeves. The sleeves are now straight cut with 2 remaining pearl buttons.  The underdress of heavy bridal satin was likely created in the 1940s to replace a weighted silk one more typical of the Edwardian period and likely to have deteriorated over the years. Also, side seams appear to have been let out to accommodate the third bride whose 60’s era fingertip veil was donated with the gown.

The dress now stands ready to entertain audiences as part of our retrospective bridal fashion shows.

Published by Norma Shephard

I'm the founder and director of the Mobile Millinery Museum & author of five books on vintage fashion.

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