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A Brief History of the Strapless Wedding Dress

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Image by Leyla Novini
Image by Leyla Novini

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

If you happen to be a bride who's not into strapless gowns, good luck to you. Kate Berry, the style director for Martha Stewart Weddings, recently estimated for Salon that 75% of all the wedding dresses out there nowadays are of the strapless variety, which means you are going to be hard pressed to find a sleeve of any kind if covered arms are your druthers.

So when did strapless become such a thing? We spoke with Dan Rentillo, style director at David's Bridal, who told us the trend began to emerge in the mid '90s. Back when the social and religious rules that insisted on brides being completely covered began to shift in the '60s, so did wedding gown designs. Dresses went from the demure small-waisted, full-skirted options popular in the '50s to short shifts in the '60s, full princess skirts with "leg of mutton" sleeves in the '80s, and eventually what to we have today. Once the social rules changes, Rentillo says, "shoulders now had the option of being slightly covered (cap sleeves, wide straps, portrait collars) to completely bare—strapless, halter, spaghettis straps, one-shouldered."

How long will this trend be sticking around for? It's been going 15-years strong, and Kim Forrest, the editor of WeddingWire, told Salon that now the silhouette “is the standard for wedding dresses and that won’t change anytime soon.” So get those weights out, ladies. Strapless is here to stay.
· All Weddings Week coverage [Racked]
· Say Yes to a Different Dress [Salon]