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Wedding Dress

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The 1856 invention of the cage crinoline, or hoop skirt with metal rings, allowed for the huge expansion of skirts in the late 1850s and into the 1860s. This garment, a tartan or plaid silk dress, would have been worn with such a cage crinoline. A narrow band of dark wool braid edging the hem protected the silk of the skirt from sweeping the ground and getting worn. Queen Victoria popularized the use of plaid fabric to make dresses because of her love of the Scottish Highlands. This dress was worn by Gertrude Stoddard at her wedding to William Shapper on March 22, 1861, in Horseheads, New York. The dress reflects the notion of a wedding dress serving as a woman's best garment after her wedding. The practice of a white wedding dress would not become standard until the late 19th century.


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