A wedding dress of 1911

Tara wrote me last week with a fascinating query.  She’s trying to recreate her great-grandmother’s wedding dress, but all she has is a tantalizingly brief  description:

the bride looked charming in a gown of silk marquisette trimmed with Oriental lace and Irish crochet buttons over cream satin with lace coat to match.  She wore the bridal veil and orange blossoms and carried pink carnations.

As Tara says, not a lot to go on.  She want to know what the dress might have looked like, patterns that could use as a guide to making it, and what silk marquisette and Oriental lace (or their modern equivalent) are.  I thought this would make fun series of posts, so over the next week I’ll try to answer, with lots of pretty pictures!

For starters, let’s do what all brides do when they plan their wedding: look at inspiration images in wedding magazines!

There weren’t any proper wedding magazines in 1911, but the Women’s Own Magazine did do ‘A Page for Brides.’  I’ve already blogged about the bridal headpieces they suggest.  Here’s the rest:

A Page for Brides, Women's Home Magazine, 1911

The new trend for 1911: wedding wreaths instead of bouquets

And how to carry your wreath - just in case you couldn't figure that out for yourself!

And for your bridesmaids, have them wear their own mini-veils!

A suggestion for your veil

Another veil trend

If the suggestions in Women’s Own Magazine don’t do it for you, perhaps these ones will:

Two ways of arranging the bridal veil. In one, silver leaves and pearl "blossoms" hold the filmy lace in position on the hair. In the second, lace forms a dainty cap, adorned with bridal flowers, a clear tulle veil being thrown over the whole

With the accessories sorted, the bride of 1911 can move on to deciding on the most important thing: her dress!  Die Gracieuse has a few charming suggestions:

A wedding dress from De Gracieuse, 1910

Wedding dress, De Gracieuse, 1910

Wedding dress, Die Gracieuse, 1911

And this is cheating just a little, but I found some fantastic images from 1912 and 13:

An exquisite example of a wedding gown in peau de soie interwoven with silver leaves and true-lovers' knots. The train is veiled with tulle and lace to match that composing the upper part of the corsage, 1912

Bride, 1913, Demoiselles

And finally, the perfect bridesmaid: one young enough not to argue with you!  And in an utterly adorable frock:

Child bridesmaid's frock in cream and pink chiffon, garlanded with tiny pink roses. A chiffon veil is held in place by a chaplet of the flowers and leaves


  1. Gorgeous pictures – love how it’s all so flowing. Great idea, a wreath instead of a bouquet – something different!

  2. Not to my taste. The fabrics and trim sound divine, but the actual garments shown look *too* drapey to me–more like ghost costumes than gowns. The ghost resemblance is underscored, in my opinion, by the wedding wreaths–too funereal!

  3. I love those! It’s hard choose a favorite between the eight and tenth pictures–if I had to I would say either the green gown in the nineth or the wedding dress in the tenth. Anyway, thank you for these! They are going in my inspiration folder.

  4. Wow! What a beautiful series of images. I love them all and if I were her I certainly would have had difficulty choosing. Thank you once again for helping to bring that scant piece of text to life.

  5. Oooh, Madame Ornata has a photo of an extant gown from around this time with a “coat” over it (like a duster) that may be along the lines of Grandma’s. Such a pretty age. A bit too drapey and soft-edged I think for the modern aesthete, which is possibly why the Downton Abbey cossies are more fitted and svelte than they ought to be…

    • Yes, but their corsetted figures are ever-so-graceful to watch floating through that house…I’m not a costume historian, but surely women of that class would have been quite fitted..? I’m curious now…

      And in season 2, they talk about the “new styles” that allow more freedom of movement…

      Sigh.. Huge Downton fan here. BTW, has everyone seen the 1912 project?

      Very pretty dress, I’m interested to see what comes out of it… The dress in my head is just lovely..

      • Well, 1911 is the last gasp of corsetry. And I think Mrs C is referring to all the layers and the way the fabric is picked up and draped, even if it is built on a solid foundation. The Downton Dresses, pretty as they are, are sometimes a bit minimalist and un-petticoated.

  6. vintagetextile.comI’m a regular visitor, and I have a link to your site on mine. I no longer have the drive to replicate vintage clothing (such a great way to learn techniques), but I so appreciate what you create…

    No comment, but I wondered if you’ve been to this website:

    • Thanks for commenting 🙂

      I do browse that website quite often: such beautiful things – I wish I had the budget for most of them! I must admit that the descriptions make me giggle just a little. As far as I can tell most of her stock comes from vintage textile and costume auctions, so if you keep an eye on them you can often get the pieces for a fraction of what she sells them for.

  7. Sarti says

    Love the post Victorian designs but the amount of floral decoration is a bit an overkill. Congrats on presenting images in such a stylish and beautiful way 🙂

Comments are closed.