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Time Traveling Bride: Getting that 1940’s Look

Just in time for Time Traveling Bride's third installment came this little nugget wedding photographer Shannon Stellmacher unearthed from last spring's Retro Glam shoot.

Laura here looks like screen icon Rita Hayworth with a bit of Gene Tierney thrown in. I'll start by saying that wedding gowns of the 1940's were influenced by two things: war and cinema. Both became inseparable once the war machine started and people all over the world looked to newsreels for updates.

Fabric was scarce, rationed and silk went for making parachutes. War brides (usually quick to marry fiances going off to war) had to make do with a best dress or a suit to tie the knot. Formal to-the-floor gowns were offered in the synthetic fabrics that were the newest thing. The classic silhouette of this era was an A-line with a V-neck and long sleeves usually in a high sheen satin.

What have we taken from this era and brought to today's wedding fashion? I'd say the screen goddess look of Lana Turner or Rita Hayworth in a white gown that had more to do with evening glam than bridal. But it all works—the red lips, long wavy hair, clean makeup. It's definitely a look that brides of 2012 love and stalk every corner of the net to recreate...


  • Watch old movies like Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth & study the hair. Styles back then were big on glam with every hair in place. The pin-up girl from this era inspired voluminous long locks with waves.
  • Baby Doll, peep toe and platform shoes were the fashion, either as pumps or sandals.
  • Sweetheart necklines were born (a fave of Judy Garland & Deanna Durban, those young stars of backstage musicals). So were A-line gowns of transparent organza or chiffons worn over a slip dress.

Topping it all off, the classic 40's bride wore a diadem head piece out of pearls that held a flowing veil. Other headdresses of the day? Snoods, turbans and hair jewelry. Because some weddings had to be planned literally overnight, tulle and netted turban head wraps topped off with bows or florals became the quickly assembled head chic of wartime brides. Snoods especially popular for evening wear of this era held carefully paged hair in place like the one below.

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