Bridal Gowns of the Early 1900s

1906-09 wedding dress “Complex works of art,” curator Sheryl Peters said of wedding gowns dating from about 1906 to 1915.

In this, our first dress, the lace around this collar is the most delicate I have ever seen.  It looks as if it would dissolve if I breathe on it.

Silk cord runs just above it, at the top of the collar, and also below the lace.  It is looped.

That same silk cord is pulled through net elsewhere on this dress to make elaborate designs on the bodice, cuffs and the belt.

And around the hem.

Long gloves would have been worn with all of these dresses, extending under the sleeve.

Wedding dress and jacket (800x600)

This bridal gown was worn in 1910, with the jacket over it.

PMH wedding dresses 006 (600x800)

This silk gown was worn by bride Louvena Grace Dolson in 1911.  The long, narrow pleated portions, like the one running down the center of this dress, were made on a separate piece of silk.  That piece of silk was pleated and stitched, then cut into strips.  The seamstress then sewed lace trim all around each strip of pleated silk before she inserted them into this opulent creation.

PMH wedding dresses 008 (800x800)

This 1914 gown has faux orange blossoms.  Orange trees bear fruit and bloom at the same time, and so are a symbol of fertility.  This gown has a beautiful train that is pleated when viewed from the side.

PMH wedding dresses 018 (800x600)

When I give tours of  “I Do, I Do, Pasadena Ties the Knot, 1850-1950,” patrons ask which of the forty-two dresses is my favorite.  My favorite, pictured below, was worn in 1915 by Margaret Whitney Collins and almost fifty years later by Julia Collins Haselton.  I would have worn this dress if I’d had the chance.

Worn 1915 and 1964 (600x800)

Swags and big tassels of faux pearls.

Handle on train (800x600)

The train has a handle on it — you can see it at the top of this photo — so the bride could hold up the train at the reception while she walked.  And danced with her groom.

These and many other beautiful dresses are on display at the Pasadena Museum of History, only until July 14.  My next post will feature beaded wedding gowns from the 1920s, and the following post will highlight dresses from the 1930s in historical context.

Here’s information on seeing this exhibit in person:


7 thoughts on “Bridal Gowns of the Early 1900s”

  1. Thanks for a very interesting blog read! The photos added much to the enjoyment of this fascinating subject. These gowns are exquisite. There is a lot to appreciate in this wonderful art of the wedding dress. I must go see them before July 14.

  2. What breathtaking skill to sew these. I remember my mother’s silk gown which hung in our attic when I was in grade school. When the late 1940s rolled around and my parents’ budget was tight, she cut it to pieces to make my doll Marietta a dress for Christmas. It was a lovely gesture to make a frugal family’s little girl have a happy holiday but I wish today I had it preserved and saw her gown in a museum like these.

  3. My mother was talking to me about her mother, Mini Spielvogel. She told me that her mother and an Italian seamstress designed and made the Astor wedding gown. My mom believes the gown was made for a lady named Astor, who was on the Titanic. According to my mother, the lady survived the sinking of the Titanic, but her husband did not. I could not find any information or photographs of the gown. Would you have any information on the gown or know where to look. According to my mother, she said at the time her mother designed and worked on the gown, she may have been single at the time and her last name then was Reichbach, (not sure of the spelling). My mother thought that maybe Mini and the Italian seamstress may have worked for a company that made wedding gowns.

    1. Hi, Ned. Nice to hear from you. The Astor couple who were on the Titanic were John Jacob Astor IV and Madeleine Talmage Force Astor. I looked them up in Wikipedia. Her Wikipedia listing is under Madeleine Astor. You may want to click on the references at the end of her listing. One is supposed to be the New York Times’ account of the wedding: Her dress is described very briefly. Mrs. Astor may have given the dress to a friend or relative, or kept it. It may be in storage in a museum. According to Wikipedia, after losing her husband on the Titanic, she lived in NYC, so the dress may be owned by a museum there. You could also try the places listed in the Wikipedia entry including Newport, RI, where they married. Good luck.

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