Clothes To Get Hitched In

 

Last month I went with a friend to the Texas Tech Museum in Lubbock. The newspaper had advertised that they were displaying their extensive collection of old wedding dresses and I couldn’t wait to see them. They certainly didn’t disappoint. I learned that the museum keeps a ton of things in their basement and take pride in bringing them up to display for the public periodically.

Since they have so many wedding dresses, they only bring up a certain amount at a time.  Starting in August these on display now will go back to the basement and a whole new group will come up.  I think they said they have enough to last until June of 2012. Just think how many dresses comprise their collection. The ones I’m showing today were just a few of what my friend and I saw.

The first two were surprisingly made of plaid material. I’d never heard of plaid being used for wedding dresses so I was amazed. For those who don’t know……white wasn’t worn until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Prior to that, the dresses had to be functional since they were worn many many times after the wedding.

This one looks like it could’ve been worn by a prairie lady.

The dresses were in all colors. Here’s a bright red one that might’ve been worn in a winter wedding.

This one was Civil War era. Just imagine having to sew all these buttons on!

These last two that I’ll show you today came later toward the end of the 19th century or beginning of the 20th century. Notice that the last one is looking more like the wedding dress we know today.

Over time, some of these dresses became quite worn so the museum experts had to do some extensive renovation. They had a video showing the process of placing another piece of fabric underneath the worn place and carefully stitching it to the dress. I really enjoyed seeing what all goes on behind the scenes.

Dresses in this display were fashioned from fabrics of brocade, velvet, cotton, satin, and silk. The brocade ones looked very heavy and reminded us of the dress Scarlet O’Hara made from her deep emerald drapes.

Can you imagine getting married in dresses like these?

 

Linda Broday
Here in the Texas Panhandle, we do love our cowboys. There's just something about a man in a Stetson and jeans that makes my heart beat faster. I'm not much of a cook but I love to do genealogy and I'm a bit of a rock hound. I'm also a NY Times & USA Today bestselling author of historical western romance. You can contact me through my website and I'd love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. HAPPY READING!
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Updated: July 18, 2011 — 3:44 pm

42 Comments

  1. Beautiful : ) I love this post! I’ve always dreamed of a small wedding followed by a big reception. Nothing fancy–just good folks, good food, and good music. Something that people truly enjoy and walk away from with a big smile on their face! I love to sew, and I always planned to make my own wedding dress. I have some fine, vintage cream brocade fabric which belonged to my grandmother. It would make a wonderful Victorian-style wedding gown. It’s a rich fabric, not needing much additional adornment. I would adore to have a loving life-mate, my own romance hero, who would drive me away to places I’ve never been–beautiful little B&B’s in enchanting locations. Wonderful food, wine, and decadent desserts. A small, intimate dance floor with soft romantic music. Memorable sunsets and the making of memories to last a lifetime.

  2. It makes sense that the dress would need to be functional. I can’t even imagine how long it would take to make one of those dresses without a machine! It reminds me of the Little House Series. In “These Happy Golden Years” when Laura gets married, she wears black. He Ma laments “Marry in black, you’ll wish yourself back.” But, it was her newest and finest dress…and functional. I wish I were closer to Lubbock, I would really enjoy that display!

  3. Fascinating! I love watching the gradual transformation to the 20th century. Very cool.

  4. Virginia……….Thanks for stopping by and looking at my wedding dresses. I agree with you. Small simple weddings are truly events to savor. A wedding should be about the bride and groom and their relationship, not about what clothes they wear. Beach weddings are really popular and when timed to combine with a spectacular sunset, they’re breathtaking and romantic.

    I do hope you get a chance to use that vintage cream brocade fabric that belonged to your grandmother. I can just imagine how lovely that is. Keep looking for your hero. He’ll show up when you’re least expecting it.

  5. Stephanie……….I remember that scene in Little House with the black wedding dress. I loved those books! And yes, people on the prairie wore whatever they had. When my parents got married, my dad wore overalls and my mom wore a simple borrowed dress and shoes. It was in the height of the Depression and clothes were hard to come by.

    Hope you have a great day!

  6. Sherri………I’m glad you enjoyed my blog and the pictures. I loved how the museum had the dresses arranged in order of the date they were worn. In my upcoming Valentine story my heroine wears an emerald green dress to get married in. I loved writing that scene.

    By the way, I found out that the amount of fabric that was used to make a wedding dress indicated a bride’s social status. The bigger the dress, the more wealth she had.

  7. These are fasinating and what it must have been like to see thme up close and personal. To see the real detail work on them.. I can’t imagine me in wedding dresses like this, well maybe that winter one, but it would have been green for me instead of red.. Red is not a colour I like… Of course I never got married, but hey once can always dream about the dress. Now I like to picture in my mind the dresses my nieces will wear on their wedding day….

  8. Linda, thank you this is fascinating. I love the red dress. How I wish I could have met the bride who wore that! It’s something that Scarlet O’Hara might have worn to her wedding.

    Hugs,

  9. Linda I love this post!!!I love the peach dress It is so lovely. I would love to get my hands on a dress like that….I love the days back then. Everybody cared for one another, life was not like it is today.
    Again Linda I love your post. So interesting and informative

    Walk in harmony
    Melinda

  10. Kathleen…….I’m so glad you dropped by. We all love to dream and play the “what if” question. I didn’t even have a dress on my special day. I got married in a pale lavender suit. Of course, we had eloped so the ceremony wasn’t in a church. Oh, the memories.

    I hope you have a very good day!

  11. Margaret……..glad you enjoyed my post. Seeing these dresses was a special treat. My friend and I are going back next month to see a whole new batch that the museum is bringing up. Can’t wait to see them. Like you, I really liked the red one. I think because it’s so bold and lovely. I can see Scarlet in this dress. The dress fits a rebel like her.

  12. Melinda……..thank you for stopping by and looking at my dresses. Glad you liked the pictures. The peach dress is really beautiful. I like the graceful way it falls. What made these really neat was that they put the dresses on mannequins instead of just hanging them behind glass. It was easier to get a ‘feel’ of the dress and see the way it actually wears.

    Stay cool there in Arizona!

  13. Linda,

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing these pictures with us. Wish I could visit the exhibit. It’s fun to picture the bride who wore each dress and imagine who she was and the circumstances around her wedding day.

    –Kirsten

  14. Hi Kirsten……..thank you for your comment. I do think the Texas Tech Museum is one of the best I’ve seen. They have so many wonderful displays. I feel fortunate to be close so I can visit often. Yes, it’s fun to imagine the bride who wore each of these. She must’ve felt really beautiful. I’m sure she was brimming with hopes and dreams for the future. One of the things the museum does is put the name of the woman who wore them. They have carefully documented each dress.

    Hope you have a cool day. It’s sure hot here in Texas.

  15. I love this post, Linda. It seems to be having a weird emotional impact on me. For some reason I can just see the wedding, the love, the hope, the hard work ahead but the promise of it all too.

    I’d love to see more. Keep ’em coming.

  16. Mary……..I’m glad you see what I do. It seems the dresses come more alive on the mannequins than they do when they’re simply draped behind a glass. I like seeing how the dresses hang. Yes, I do plan to blog more about these dresses as the museum brings up more from the climate-controlled basement. If that basement covers the entire floor area of the museum it’s huge. Can’t imagine what all they have down there.

    Hope your day goes well. Try to stay cool.

  17. Hi Linda!

    Beautiful pictures. I can’t begin to tell you how I scour over pictures of fashion. Each period that I write about always has its fashion book. It helps to bring in time and place, I think.

  18. Karen K………I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I love when I run across something I can bring to our visitors and my Filly sisters. I’m not surprised you keep a fashion book with each time period you write about. I think it’s crucial to do that. The neatest thing about this dress display was being able to see how the dresses were gotten on and off. Most had buttons (either in the front or back) but one dress in particular fastened with hooks and eyes, a lot of them. I’d never seen that before.

  19. Hey Linda, awesome post and pictures. I can totally see me wearing the last one. My gown in 1974 was all long lacy Victorian sleeves and high neck. (One didn’t bare shoulders or arms during the Jurassic era LOL) I love weddings, wedding gowns, and everything about weddings.

    I saw Queen Victoria’s gown on display during a visit to London. It would have fit a child. I can’t believe how tiny she was.

    Great stuff today! Love this post. oxoxox

  20. Oh my Goodness! Linda these are fabulous! And it sure looks like the ladies of the west, had supermodel figures too! This is the coolest display of dresses I’ve seen of this time period. I would love to go and see it!!

  21. Tanya………glad my post caught your fancy. I enjoyed bringing it to everyone. This museum here at the university is wonderful. Lots of interesting displays. They have a huge collection of western art that’s simply amazing.

    You know, I kinda like the necks and sleeves on a wedding dress. Kate Middleton’s was very gorgeous. I think she may bring back the old-fashioned look. I didn’t have a wedding dress per se. Mine was a pale lavender suit. But it served the purpose all the same.

  22. Those are gorgeous and I could imagine getting married in any of those dresses except for the fact that I probably couldn’t fit myself into any of them and I’d kill myself or put other’s health and well-being at risk wearing those hoops!

  23. Charlene………I’m so glad you liked these and saw what I did. I could just imagine a bride decked out in these. To me they’re very romantic. And yes, they had exquisite figures. Of course, the corsets helped sculpt those tiny waists.

    Glad to have you back here, dear friend.

  24. Renee C……….Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. I loved bringing these to all our visitors. With those corsets they wore back then a woman could have any size waist she wanted. Too funny.

  25. “I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory.”
    From Wikiquote, saying “Instructions regarding a proposed gift of a wedding dress for her marriage to Pierre in July 1895, as quoted in Madame Curie: A Biography (1937) by Eve Curie Labouisse, as translated by Vincent Sheean, p. 137”
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Marie_Curie

  26. Liz………what a wonderful quote. I’m sure it projected the sentiment of many a bride.

  27. Linda, I really enjoyed the day we spent looking at the wedding dresses. I also learned from you that the shoes had no right or left and they were all so small! I guess women had smaller feet then. I attended a wedding last month at Lake Ransom Canyon and the bride and her female wedding party all wore beautiful white flip-flops. I am ready for another museum adventure..

  28. Hi Tretha………..you’re my museum partner. Yes, we definitely have to check out another museum. That one in Post sounds neat and it’s only 20 miles from your house. You told me about the wedding party wearing white flip-flops. Kinda strange but cool. One of the main things bridesmaids complain about are the tight shoes they have to wear. And flip-flops are so inexpensive. About the small feet back in old west days….I really think they were. But women were very short too back then.

    Thanks for coming and leaving a comment. I know how uncomfortable you are posting one.

  29. This makes me laugh. I was at my daughter’s wedding dress fitting and we were discussing all the multitudes of bustle options.

    How things have changed and yet in some ways have remained the same.

  30. Interesting post!

  31. Julie……..strange isn’t it? I guess some things never go out of style. Thank heaven we don’t have to wear bustles every day. I think that would drive me batty. I honestly don’t know how women sat down in them. And just think of having to use the outhouse. Don’t know how those women did it. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  32. Estella……..glad you enjoyed the post. It’s always a pleasure to see your name on here.

  33. Linda, what a fun post! I love the red one; and the good thing, I can come to Lubbock (when the heat wave subsides somewhat LOL) and see them myself. Thanks for sharing your pictures. They are really great.
    Love, P

  34. I agree, the red dress is outstanding! I can see
    it being worn again for special occasions. What
    I can also see is the sore fingers and hands of
    the seamstress who made any clothing back in the
    day!

    Pat Cochran

  35. Hey Linda,
    VERY INTERESTING! I loved looking at these dresses, and just imagining what wearing one must have been like. I will never forget the picture Scarlett O’Hara made in that beautiful green curtain dress. I loved her for thinking of that. Loved your post.
    Cheryl

  36. Phyliss…….. I can’t wait for you to come for the day so we can go to the museum and the National Ranching Heritage Center. I promise you’ll have loads of fun. Bring Natalie and the three of us will see the sights and have lunch. But, yes, please wait until it gets a little cooler.

  37. Pat………..I’m glad you enjoyed my blog. I agree with you about the poor seamstress’s sore fingers and hands. Just think about all those tiny delicate stitches and yards and yards of fabric. Not to mention all the teensy button holes and buttons. Good grief!

  38. Cheryl P……….there was one dress in the collection that reminded me of Scarlett’s curtain dress only it wasn’t green. I’m sure that dress weighed a ton. It looked like it anyway.

  39. Linda,
    How lucky to be close enough to see this exhibit. I have always thought it would make sense to have a wedding dress that could be worn more than once. While it is wonderful to have a beautiful gown and feel so special, after the “big day” just think how many nice outfits you could have gotten for the same price. In times when practicality was of utmost importance and weddings were often small casual affairs, “Sunday Best” was good enough to get married in.
    Thank you the pictures. I hope you can post more from this revolving exhibit at a future date.

  40. Hi, Linda. Sorry I’m late to the party. I got caught up in work yesterday. But boy am I glad I went back to peruse your post. Love the dresses! The red one in particular stood out to me because the sillouette looked exactly like the ones from my favorite time period – the 1880s. I have to admit, though, that my favorite was the blue plaid. And what wonderful condition these are in! I have got to get up to Lubbock one of these days!

  41. Patricia B…….glad you enjoyed the blog. I’m amazed at how many of P&P’s visitors loved my pictures of the wedding dresses. Guess that’s due to us being romantics. We never tire of imagining how it is, or was, between a man and woman, regardless of which century they’re in. The red was my favorite too. There’s just something about that bold color that speaks to me.

  42. Karen……… my new Filly sister! You’re never too late to leave a comment. That blue plaid dress is very pretty. I think one of its drawing points is the simplicity and those unique sleeves. Hey, I do hope you get over this way to see the exhibit. It’s not that far from Abilene. I love this museum here–and it’s free which is pretty amazing. They have some neat displays. One room is nothing but western art that portrays scenes from the old west.

    Hope you have an easier day at work today.

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