Your Guide to Buying a Coloured Wedding Dress

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Your Guide to Buying a Coloured Wedding Dress

The wedding dress is typically a shade of white in most Western societies, usually meant to either symbolise the purity of the union and of the bride or to indicate that the bride is protected from evil according to superstition. However, the white wedding dress has been popular for less time than many think, and while the custom of wearing white on the wedding day is still popular, many women are looking into the possibility of purchasing a coloured wedding dress for their special day.

Coloured wedding dresses are popular in various cultures around the world, and Western brides are now returning to the idea that a coloured dress adds more personality, style, and fashion to the modern wedding. With new styles and colours available, many brides wonder how to choose a wedding dress based on colour. This is why it is important to know how to choose colours that go well with the skin tone, what some colours mean, and where to find various wedding dresses in the desired colours.

History of the Wedding Dress

Surprising to many, the use of the white wedding dress has only been popular since the 19th century, when Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding. Before that time, brides were expected to wear colours and fabrics demonstrating their status. Therefore the daughter of a wealthy merchant would wear an expensive fabric and dye, and the daughter of a poor peasant would wear something more befitting her status. Usually this would mean that rich brides would wear expensive red and saffron yellow dyes, which were often very expensive. Poor women might not have been able to afford a special dress at all, and would often go to the altar wearing their best Sunday dress or their newest dress.

Colours of all kinds, including black, were popular throughout Europe before Queen Victoria’s wedding. Even after that period, other colours were often still implemented, but gradually faded out as fashion took over. Today, it is considered traditional for brides to wear shades of white, some even stipulating that wearing any other colour can bring bad luck to the bride or the marriage. But many women are reverting to older customs and bringing colours to modern weddings. While originally colours and fabrics determined the wealth of the bride, today the choice is purely based on the bride’s preferences.

Wedding Dress Fabrics

Wedding dresses are historically made of rich, expensive fabrics. However, today, the fabrics can include anything from very expensive and opulent fabrics to cheaper imitations that are more cost effective for the bride on a budget. These include brocade, a heavy and rich fabric that is usually embroidered, and crepe, a gauzy fabric which can be made of silk, wool, or polyester. Velvet is normally used sparingly, and lace can comprise trim or a full overlay of the wedding dress.

Organza is similar to satin, but often features a shine coming from metallic threads in the weave. Shantung is an oriental imitation satin which is often very soft and shiny, but made of polyester weave. Silk is also used for wedding dresses, but those from cheap brands usually have up to 15 per cent genuine silk with a polyester blend. Pure silk wedding dresses are very expensive and often quite frail, so are not recommended for anyone without a very large budget.

Styles of Wedding Dresses

Wedding dresses come in hundreds of styles including with long and short sleeves, bustier or cold shoulder, corset, short, high-low, Victorian, and mermaid. Women should choose a style of wedding dress based on what flatters their figure, what they prefer, and what style of wedding they plan to have. The look of the dress could also be chosen to blend in with the occasion without being too casual or too formal.

Retro-Style Wedding Dress

Many women choose to purchase retro-style wedding dresses for casual weddings. These are usually nothing more than coloured retro dresses, worn with matching retro hairstyle, heels, and jewellery. The look is very casual, very affordable, and increasingly popular among women who don’t want a big to-do about their wedding. Usually retro wedding dresses include classic wiggle dresses and swing dresses in solid colour prints such as pink, blue, black, navy, red, and cream. Some retro styles are also more formal and simply reflect wedding dress styles from the early 50s to the 60s.

High-Low Wedding Dress

The high-low wedding dress was very popular between the early 1920s and the early 1960s. After this period, the full-circle skirt reminiscent of the Victorian era became popular again, but the high-low wedding dress is now making its way back into fashion. Women can choose a variety of colours and lengths with popular styles including two tone, with a different colour on the inside of the wedding dress.

The length of the train and the length of the skirt often vary as well. Some high-low wedding dresses feature a very short skirt with a very long train, while others feature a calf-length skirt with an ankle-length train. The difference in lengths is purely up to the bride, although it should be considered that the more difference between the length of the skirt and the train, the more attention the look commands as a whole. A high-low dress of this style can be seen in popular culture in the 1993 music video by rock band Guns N’ Roses for ‘November Rain’ which shows a wedding.

Victorian Wedding Dress

The Victorian era wedding dress is possibly the most popular style due to its traditional usage in weddings since the early 60s. This wedding dress usually features a formal look, full skirt that is best complemented by petticoats, and usually accented with lace, pearls or sequins, and various decorative trim. This is the most formal of wedding dresses because it is often the largest in volume and made of a formal fabric. Victorian wedding dresses can be purchased in a variety of colours, including two-tone varieties.

Corset Wedding Dress

The corset wedding dresses include any type of wedding dress, as long as the dress is strapless and features a lace-up back. This type of dress may or may not feature boning, as the traditional corset does, but is usually intended to be worn without a bra. The corset dress is especially popular as a coloured wedding dress because it fits well into gothic and alternative styles.

Mermaid Wedding Dress

The mermaid wedding dress features a fitted bodice and waist, with a tail or skirt that flares out just above the knees to give the impression of a mermaid’s tail. This dress is most flattering on women with a smaller posterior, mainly because the style can accentuate any curves in the belly or hips. The mermaid dress is quite commonly a corset dress and can come in a variety of styles, including with the skirt as a different colour than the rest of the dress.

Eastern Wedding Dress

Eastern wedding dresses are typically coloured. Many oriental brides choose the colour red for their wedding dress, as with a Chinese wedding dress. In Japan, brides often wear three dresses of different colours. Each colour symbolises a change and often include white, red, and sometimes blue. However, most western brides do not consider Eastern wedding dresses unless they are living in an Eastern country or practising some form of Eastern religion.

Choosing a Colour for the Skin Tone

While the white wedding dress is typically traditional, it also leaves brides with less room to make decisions for flattering their skin tone than coloured dresses. There are normally four basic skin tones usually ranked by seasons. Each of these skin tones falls into a ‘gold’ or ‘silver’ area. Gold skin tones generally look better in lighter colours with gold jewellery, while silver colours look better in darker hues with silver jewellery.

For example, a woman with light brown eyes, pale skin, and brown hair would probably be a gold tone, meaning that she would look best in colours such as gold, yellow, brown, amber, auburn, red, orange, and other warm colours. The same woman with paler skin and green eyes would be better complemented by dark blues, amethyst, green, purple, and silver jewellery.

Taking Measurements for a Wedding Dress

Wedding dresses come in a variety of sizes, but sometimes they can be one or even two sizes smaller than a woman’s standard size. This is why it is important to get accurate measurements for the dress before attempting to purchase one, especially when shopping online, such as on eBay. Having an assistant to help with measurements can ensure they are as accurate as possible. You should at least measure the hips, bust, and waist, but also the height, the leg length, and the shoulders. It’s also important to consider that measurements should be taken while wearing the underwear, shapewear, or lingerie intended to be worn under the wedding dress.

Buying a Coloured Wedding Dress on eBay

Buying a coloured wedding dress on eBay allows you to have access to a wide range of colours and styles that might not be available anywhere else since white dresses are much more popular. Moreover, on eBay you can find wedding dresses greatly discounted from the original purchase price, or even wedding dresses from budget retailers that hand make dresses to order.

First, you should either decide a general style or colour of wedding dress you are looking for, or choose to browse for inspiration. From there, you can start on the home page of eBay and type in your search term. Good ideas include ‘red mermaid wedding dress’, ‘two tone wedding dress’, and ‘high low wedding dress’. Remember that local sellers usually ship faster, but international sellers might have better prices and more options. Usually you should purchase a wedding dress online at least six weeks in advance, especially if you intend to have it custom or tailor made.


While out of fashion for more than a century, coloured wedding dresses are once again returning to both fashion and style. Women choosing coloured wedding dresses are actually choosing styles much older than the typical white wedding dress. Coloured wedding dresses are often surrounded by superstition of ill-luck, but most women today don’t believe in, or care about this fancy.

Coloured wedding dresses are an excellent way of showing personal style, flattering a skin tone, or even showing a colour that means something to the wearer. Many gothic women often choose to be married in black or red, both colours that are very popular in Eastern and medieval European culture. There are hundreds of popular styles of coloured wedding dresses including a variety of materials, cuts, and either formal or informal styles. Women can use this guide to decide on a style and colour of wedding dress based on what flatters their body and their skin tone, and can choose to purchase the dress in high street shops, at online stores, or on eBay.

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