Imagine the 1970s and it’s hard not to think of a time of change, of hippie mentality and bright technicolour. Political movements from the 1960s reignited and evolved. Similarly, the fashion was ever changing, and wedding wear was no exception to that. So, let’s have a look at some iconic wedding dresses of the ’70s.
Firstly, the 1970s was host to an array of trends. Indeed, some of these have made more modern comebacks. This ranges from flares and over-the-knee suede boots, to folk-inspired printed dresses, turtle neck jumpers and denim dresses. In short, it is an era of bold statements.
With mass-market trend-driven fashion starting to lift off, a variety of styles took shape. Trends included the hippie look, the rise of casual chic sportswear, disco, and of course punk. Above all, the ’70s stressed individuality, and the beginnings of expressing yourself with clothing. As writer Tom Wolfe said, the 1970s was the “Me decade”. Likewise, Vogue wrote “There are no rules in the fashion game anymore”.
Androgyny also played a big part, with silhouettes for men and women becoming increasingly similar. Women opted for trousers over skirts, and outfits for all genders consisted of tight tops and loose bottoms. High-waisted trousers were worn frequently by both men and women.
Though the white or ivory wedding dress, popularised by Queen Victoria, has stood the test of time due to its romantic nostalgia, wedding dresses of the ’70s were rebelling. Bridal dresses started to change and evolve; instead of the classic long-line silhouette, women opted for white jumpsuits or pantsuits. Subsequently, brides of today are following this (like Kaley Cuoco’s jumpsuit) and opting for colours and a range of lengths.
The ’70s had a particularly interesting take on bridal wear. As man-made materials were a lot more accessible, more and more brides were able to afford beautiful, extravagant gowns. Firstly, high, modest, Victorian-inspired necklines were popular throughout this decade, as well as flowing sleeves which were tightly fitted at the wrist. Moreover, brides often paired their long, voluminous gowns with full, detailed trains for a dramatic effect.
Similarly to general fashion, there was no dominant trend of wedding dresses. Gowns ranged from hippie frocks to fairy-tale princess gowns, and pantsuits to punk-influenced dresses. The decade also saw the revival of ’30s and ’40s silhouettes. Elements of Victorian and Edwardian fashion also creeped back in for couples looking to make an elegant statement.
As with other decades, there were iconic wedding dresses of the ’70s. Take a look at some famous examples below.
Bianca and Mick Jagger, 1971
When Bianca met Mick at a Rolling Stones concert in France in 1970, he was already a big name. When Bianca fell pregnant, Mick decided to pop the question. They wed when she was four months pregnant in France in Saint-Tropez.
Due to the fact that the civil ceremony had to be open to the public, we have plenty of images of the nuptials and the couples’ outfits.
Far from the modest neckline we mentioned above, when actress Bianca Macías married Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, she wore a tailored Yves Saint Laurent jacket, without a blouse underneath. With this, she wore a long, bias-cut silk skirt and attached her veil upon a large, oversized white hat.
Princess Anne, 1973
The Queen’s daughter started dating when she was 20 years old; her first boyfriend was Andrew Parker Bowles. He then married Camilla Shand (who later became Duchess of Cornwall) the same year that Princess Anne married Mark Phillips.
Anne met Mark in 1968 at equestrian events during the Summer Olympics. They became engaged at Badminton Horse Trials where they both competed, and they married at Westminster Abbey in November 1973.
The princess wore a Tudor-style gown with excessively long sleeves and a raised neck. Maureen Baker, one of Anne’s favoured designers, worked with the princess so that the finished gown was exactly what she was looking for. Her train and veil were short and simple – the train only measured seven feet. She finished her ensemble with Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, which her mother had worn to her wedding. All in all, this was an iconic wedding dress that encompassed the varied styles of the ’70s.
Hillary Clinton, 1975
The Clintons reportedly met as Bill gazed at Hillary across the library at Yale. She, finally, approached him, saying “If you’re going to keep looking at me, and I’m going to keep looking back, we might as well be introduced – I’m Hillary Rodham.” They holidayed together that summer then lived together the following year.
However, Hillary knew she wanted to consider her future before rushing into marriage. Bill proposed on numerous occasions but she kept turning him down and asking for more time. She fell in love with a red brick house in Arkansas that was for sale. A few weeks later, Bill revealed that he had bought the property, and proposed again. This time, she said yes.
They loved the house so much that they decided to get married in it! On 11th October 1975 they invited a Methodist minister and fifteen guests to their living room to say their vows. They enjoyed their reception with several hundred friends in their back garden.
This house now acts as a museum where guests can see Hillary’s wedding dress. The gown has been described as “quintessentially ’70s”, possibly because it cost $53! Her mother rushed her to buy a dress the day before the wedding; Hillary picked the first one she found. It had full-length sleeves which gathered on the upper arm before billowing out, finishing in delicate lace. The gown featured an empire waistline and a gypsy skirt with lines of white lace. A high collar, with scalloped lace, fell to a gentle sweetheart neckline which was tied with two long laces and finished with a small brooch.
Aretha Franklin, 1978
Aretha Franklin had a hard upbringing. She had her first child at 12, when she was just a child herself, and her first husband when she was 19. She suffered from domestic violence during the eight year marriage to Ted White and they eventually divorced in 1969.
She met Glynn Turman, a celebrated actor, at a benefit in 1977. Her eldest child, Clarence, decided to set them up, and they married the following year! Her father was a Baptist minister, and Aretha had started her singing career in his church. It is here that she married Glynn to a packed out congregation. She had twelve bridesmaids and Glynn had twelve groomsmen.
Her dress was fairly plain, which is unusual for the famous diva. It featured a scoop neckline with a sheer panel to her neck. However, the drama comes in her coat and hat. She chose a white pillbox hat to secure her very long veil. It suits her long cloak perfectly, which featured 6,000 pearls and a fur trim.