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Pippa’s Dress – Not So Shocking

The Bride’s sister wore white?! Isn’t that… improper? Inappropriate? BAD FORM??

Not necessarily.

Did you know that brides and their maids in ancient times actually dressed identically (including heavy veiling) because they hoped to confuse evil spirits? The superstition was that a mischievous spirit wouldn’t be able to figure out who was the real bride, and she would be kept safe from its horrible curses. This is why there are stories of bridegrooms being duped into marrying the wrong woman – he couldn’t see his bride’s face until after the ceremony, and sometimes a family could pull a switcheroo and marry off a different girl. Shakespeare even made use of the surprise bride in plays like Much Ado About Nothing.

Modern weddings use traditional etiquette standards that are customary, but aren’t always as old-fashioned as you might think.

Up until and even during Victorian times, western brides usually wore their “best” dress (which wasn’t always new) as their wedding attire because a white dress was expensive and hard to keep clean, unless you were upper class. One new trend that has become modern tradition began when Queen Victoria chose to wear white as a bride in 1840. (She even dressed her attendants in white.) Before white dresses were common and affordable, western brides would often accessorize with white (the symbol of purity) – white bonnets, white feathers on a colored hat, or white flowers.

Modern day brides tend to choose bridesmaid dresses in one of their wedding colors. And up until recently, it seemed many brides selected ugly dresses for their attendants so that the bridal gown would not be out-shone. (Ironically, a fashion faux-paus can be even more distracting than something pretty!)

And that’s your quickie history lesson for the day! Here’s why Pippa’s dress actually worked:

  • It was understated elegance at its finest – she looked amazing but didn’t look like the bride.  (Or at least not like a Royal bride.)
  • She looked like an extension of the bride’s train as she helped Kate outside the church.

  • She didn’t look out of place in the midst of the tiny bridesmaids who were also in white.

  • She looked modern but her dress gave a nod to 1930s bias cut evening gown – just as Kate’s dress had a retro 1960s feel.
  • By dressing her sister in white, Kate was following a Royal tradition that Queen Victoria (the biggest wedding trendsetter in history) herself used for her attendants.

The Marriage of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert (1840)

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