Wedding gowns often reflect the fashions of their era and so photos from the 1920s can be dated by various clues such as sleeve style, neck line and dress length. Some brides did choose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown which can be misleading. However if the bride wore an older style dress she often updated her hair style and veil. In group wedding photos the attire of the bridesmaids and wedding guests can also provide useful information as to the date.

1920s Bridal Head-dress

1920s veil

Bridal Headgear

At the beginning of the Twentieth century Bridal Head-gear was worn much higher than later the in the 1920s.

1900 Rosina Nelson
1907 Rose Merry
1910 Bridal Veil
1918 Dorothy Carter
1900
1907
1910
1918

 

In the 1920s Mob caps were  fashionable as bridal headdresses. A mob cap was a large cap or bonnet covering much of the hair, typically of light cotton with a frilled edge. Sometimes it was tied under the chin with ribbon and was worn indoors by women in the 18th and early 19th centuries. In the Victorian period, mob caps had become the head covering of servants and nurses. However the 1920s saw a resurgence of the mob cap in bridal wear.

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mob-cap

 

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 1921 Dorothy Greaves – Mob Cap style headdress and veil

Later in the 1920s brides favoured lace cloche headdresses, some of which would be encircled with flowers. Veils were usually made of silk materials and decorated with flowers and leaves. Orange Blossom was often used to decorate the head-dress.

Tiaras, veils and headbands were all worn low over the forehead in the 1920s.

1922-double-wedding

1922 Double Wedding with veils worn low over the forehead.

A Juliet cap was a small open-work crocheted or mesh cap, often decorated with pearls or beads and worn with evening gowns and bridal wear. The cap was named after the heroine of  Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and was often worn with a long cathedral-length veil in the 1920’s. 

1929 People's Home Journal

1929 People’s Home Journal

1928-juliet-cap-and-crysanthemeum-bouquet

Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 Juliet Cap of lace and pearls

1928-bridal-head-dresses

1927-wedding-faashion

In the 1920s White Russian emigres fleeing revolution and civil war influenced the fashion scene. Thousands of Russians fled to escape the Bolshevik revolution and many immigrant women found work in French couture houses using their skills in embroidery and knowledge of traditional Russian patterns. Designs influenced by Russian peasant costumes became popular. One fashionable design was based on a Russian girl’s headdress called a kokoshnik.

kokoshnik-style-headdress
kokoshnik-headdress
1926-kokoshnik-style-headdress

In 1922 the heiress Edwina Ashley married Lord Louis Mountbatten  and wore a Russian inspired pointed coronet.

1922-mountbatten-wedding

Miss Irene Hill was noted as having a `fashionable wedding’ in India and wore a Russian coronet of orange-blossom.

1925-russian-coronet

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925

I am fascinated by this wonderful photo taken of Helen Fry Kingston wearing a most impressive Russian kokoshnik style headdress at her wedding in Queensland, Australia in 1929.

1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding

1929 Helen Fry Kingston and Francis J Perrett

At another 1929 wedding Minnie East has a much simpler headdress. However it is still worn low down 1920s style.

1929-v-neckline

1929 Minnie East

1927-new-ideas-for-bridal-veil

Western Morning NewsFriday 01 April 1927

1921 Bridal Veil
1922 Bridal veil
1922 Edwina Ashley
1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
1921
1922
1922
1923
1925 Bridal Veil and Orange Blossom
1927 Louisa George Bridal Veil
1929 Minnie East Wedding Veil
1929 Perrett Kingston Wedding Head-dress
1925
1927
1929
1929

 

Picture Hats

picturehat

Alternatively a hat was worn by the bride and or bridesmaids. We often see wide-brimmed picture hats until mid decade when the neat cloche became the most fashionable style.

Larger picture-hats were often called vagabond style.

1927-grey-vagabond-hats

Dundee Evening TelegraphWednesday 12 October 1927

1920-black-picture-hats

Chelmsford ChronicleFriday 20 August 1920 

 

1922-harold-hawes-and-lily-fincham

1922 Wedding party with wide-brimmed Picture hats

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1923 Picture hats

1922-bridal-illustration

At this wedding reported in 1929 the bride wore a black velvet picture hat and the bridesmaid wore the newer style cloche hat.

1929-pink-bridesmaiddress-and-black-cloche-hat

Cloche hats

cloche-hats

The cloche hat or simply cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux. They became popular from about 1922 to 1933. The name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. A Cloche hat had a basic bell contour with a bulbous crown which if correctly designed could add inches to the height of the wearer. The hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up the head, whilst peering snootily down the nose. Brims became smaller as the decade progressed.

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1926 Cloche Hats
1920s-cloche-hats
1927 Cloche Hats

I have found references to not only ivory and black coloured cloche hats worn by brides and bridesmaids, but also a lot of colour.

1920s-cloche-hats

1925 Edith Punchard wore an ivory lace cloche with clusters of pale yellow flowers

1925-cloche-hat-wedding

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteThursday 21 May 1925

1925 Bride Hilda Webber wore a blue & silver shot cloche hat trimmed with forget-me-nots.

1925-cloche-hats-and-forget-me-knots

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 28 April 1925

1924 small blue cloche hat trimmed with tuft of paradise feathers.

1924-blue-cloche-hat-and-petunia-feathers

North Devon JournalThursday 12 June 1924

blue-cloche-hat

Blue seemed to be a popular colour choice influenced by the royal weddings in the early 1920s. Princess Mary chose blue as the colour for her bridesmaid dresses and the colour became known as Princess Mary blue.

1922-princess-marys-bridesmaid-veils

Grantham JournalSaturday 25 February 1922

Many brides wore a veil for the marriage ceremony, but chose to wear a cloche hat to go on honeymoon.

Bridesmaids veils

Another interesting feature of 1920s weddings is that bridesmaids sometimes wore veils! This can make it difficult to distinguish the bride in photos.

1922-princess-mary-bridesmaid-veils

1922-princess-mary-bridesmaid-veils

1922 Princess Mary’s bridesmaid veils

Nancy Davidson chose veils of primrose-coloured net for her bridesmaids to tone with their primrose coloured chiffon dresses fastened with blue sashes. They carried bouquets of blue delphiniums. I was delighted to have found these descriptions. Black and White photos look so drab and give no impression of the colours.

1929-bridesmaid-bouquets-of-delphiniums

Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

Winifred Griffiths also favoured blue as a colour. Her bridesmaids wore blue  satin dresses with head dresses of blue net fastened with wreaths of forget me nots.

1929-blue-net

Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929

1924-bridesmaid-veils

In the 1920s bridesmaids did sometimes wear white veils which were very similar to the bride. While in modern times a bridesmaid is expected to assist the bride, her duties were regarded as of a more serious nature in earlier days. A custom once existed where maidens dressed similarly to the bride would accompany her as her protectors on her way to the groom’s village. This would deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry. Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom. This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments very similar to the bride’s, This supposedly threw off bad luck that could be directed towards an easily identifiable bride and groom. In the 1920s it seems to be more of a case of fashion being influenced by the past than superstition influencing fashion.

Bandeau Headpieces

1920s-bride

During the first half of the 1920s women wore decorative bands across the forehead with evening and party dresses and this head decoration was reflected in bridal headpieces. Bridal Fashion introduced Bandeau headdresses in the later 1920s.

1925-lady-edith

1928-bridesmaid-fashion-wreath-of-flowers

Derby Daily TelegraphFriday 07 December 1928 

However clearly this Derbyshire vicar had strong views on `Modern Wedding Attire’. I’m therefore sure that Lady Edith would have kept her veil on for her wedding and not just worn a bandeau.

1925-edith-crawley-3

 

Flower girls – mob caps and dutch caps

There was also a fashion to have young flower girls in addition to bridesmaids. Little girls carrying flower baskets might wear puff-sleeved dresses and mob caps, emulating  the historical Kate Greenaway style.

1929-net-caps-and-silver-leaves

Western Daily PressMonday 24 June 1929

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1927-mob-cap-1

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1927-louisa-george-and-joseph-bliss-rance

1927 Wedding Louisa George

Not only the small flower girls, but also the chief bridesmaid is wearing a simple mob cap at this wedding. I must admit they look like  shower caps to me!

1924-pink-dresses-with-lace-mob-caps

Western Morning NewsWednesday 11 June 1924

1926-edith-amelia-polglass-and-charles-arthur-furley-group

1926 Edith Amelia Polglass Wedding

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1925  I much prefer the flower girls bonnets chosen by Dorothy Jones

Dutch Caps

Another distinctive bridesmaids head wear was the wired cap with horizontal wings that resembled a Dutch head-dress. This style looks like a fashion faux pas to me. However Edwina Ashley chose Dutch caps for her bridesmaids dresses when she married Louis Mountbatten so maybe I’m missing something!

1922-edwina-ashley-dutch-caps

Western Morning NewsTuesday 18 July 1922

 

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1922-dutch-caps-1

 

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1927-dutch-hats

Western Morning NewsTuesday 13 December 1927 

Hopefully I have given a few clues to identifying 1920s wedding photos from the headgear worn.  Next time I will be looking at the dresses themselves.

1922-double-wedding-1

1922 Double wedding of siblings William and Jane Pomfret

1922

 

 

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