Vintage Bridal Patterns

1930s Blanche Rothschild illustration of a bridal gown, McCall 9284 circa June 1937
McCall 9284 illustration by Blanche Rothschild, ca. June 1937. Image: PatternVault shop.

Vintage bridal patterns offer a unique alternative to modern bridal designs. Even if you’re already married, they provide a glimpse into past bridal fashions’ sometimes exotic vintage details—making them tempting even for those not in need of a wedding dress. (Can we expect Debi Fry to make her 1940 bridal pattern, McCall 4004?)

Now that wedding season is in full swing, here’s a selection of vintage bridal patterns, from the Twenties to the Eighties.


In the Twenties and Thirties, bridal patterns usually did double duty as patterns for formal dresses. This 1920s Peerless Patterns sign features a wedding illustration promoting a number of patterns:

1920s Peerless Patterns advertising poster with bridal scene
1920s Peerless Patterns advertising poster. Image: PatternVault shop.

This fantastic bridal or evening dress is short, in keeping with the current fashion, and may have one or two extended side panels that give the effect of a train:

1920s evening or bridal dress pattern - McCall 4985 CoPA-KLS
McCall 4985 (1927) Image: Commercial Pattern Archive, Kevin L. Seligman collection. For research purposes only.


Thirties bridal patterns have the same glamour we associate with the decade’s evening wear. This pattern for a bridal gown or dinner dress dates to circa June 1934:

1930s bridal gown or dinner dress pattern - McCall 7852
McCall 7852 (1934) Image: Etsy.
McCall 7852 on the cover of McCall Fashion Book, Mid-Summer 1934. Image: eBay.

A reproduction version of this pattern for a bridal gown or afternoon dress is available from the Vintage Pattern Lending Library:

1930s bridal gown or afternoon dress pattern - McCall 8331
McCall 8331 (1935) Bridal gown or afternoon dress.

A copy of McCall 8331 recently seen on eBay was accompanied by this wedding portrait, which shows the dress made up:

San Francisco estate wedding portrait showing McCall 8331
1930s wedding portrait from a San Francisco estate. Image: eBay.


In the Forties the bride begins to take centre stage on pattern envelopes, although evening and bridesmaid versions are still included. This bridal or evening dress was reissued in the Vintage Vogue line as Vogue 2384:

1940s Vogue Special Design wartime bridal pattern S-4532
Vogue S-4532 (1944) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

This strong-shouldered, postwar design has a sweetheart neckline and waist piping detail. The pattern also includes a bridesmaid’s dress with short, shirred sleeves (click image for the technical drawings):

1940s bridal pattern - McCall 6353
McCall 6353 (1946) Image: Etsy.


By the 1950s the bride, in her full-skirted glory, dominates the pattern envelope. This Jacques Fath design for a bride’s or bridesmaid’s dress has a bustled back and tiny shawl collar. The bridesmaid’s version simply lacks a train:

1950s Jacques Fath bridal pattern - Vogue 1331
Vogue 1331 by Jacques Fath (1956) Image: carbonated on flickr.

John Cavanagh was known for his connection to the English court. He licensed several bridal patterns with Vogue, and designed the Duchess of Kent’s wedding dress in 1961. (See my earlier post here.) This short-sleeved Cavanagh design has a simulated train; the smaller figures show bridesmaid’s and evening versions:

1950s John Cavanagh bridal pattern - Vogue 148
Vogue 148 by John Cavanagh (1958) Image: VADS.


Also by John Cavanagh, this 1960s bridal design with a cathedral-length Watteau train was modelled by Jean Shrimpton:

1960s John Cavanagh wedding dress pattern - Vogue 1347
Vogue 1347 by John Cavanagh (1964) Image: Vintage Patterns Wiki.

No bridal pattern survey could be complete without this Halston pattern for bridal headpieces:

Vogue 7082 Halston of Bergdorf Goodman 1960s bridal headpieces pattern
Vogue 7082 by Halston of Bergdorf Goodman (c. 1965) Image: eBay.


From the early 1970s, this Pierre Cardin bridal gown, shown in a silk knit, has an optional overskirt with handkerchief train:

1970s Pierre Cardin bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2520
Vogue 2520 by Pierre Cardin (1971) Image: eBay.
Vogue 2520 Pierre Cardin back
Illustration and technical drawing for Vogue 2520. Image: eBay.

Although it isn’t for everyone, Yves Saint Laurent’s couture bridal design for a gathered, bias dress, filmy coat, and five-yard veil distinguishes itself by showing the bride as wayward Vestal virgin (see Paco Peralta’s post here):

1970s Yves Saint Laurent bridal pattern - Vogue 1590
Vogue 1590 by Yves Saint Laurent (c. 1976) Image: Patrones Costura on Etsy.


Released in 1980, this opulent Dior design for a bell-skirted bridal gown, complete with bias necktie, cummerbund, and bow-embellished headpiece, is drawn from the Christian Dior Haute Couture collection for Fall 1979 (read Dustin’s post here):

1979 Christian Dior couture bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2545
Vogue 2545 by Christian Dior (1980) Image: PatternVault shop.

Perfect for steampunk weddings, Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon has an elaborate bustle that gives it a neo-Victorian flair:

1980s Bellville Sassoon bridal or evening pattern - Vogue 2180
Vogue 2180 by Bellville Sassoon (1989) Image: eBay.

For more on the history of bridal fashion, see the V&A Weddings page and Edwina Ehrman’s The Wedding Dress: 300 Years of Bridal Fashions (V&A, 2011).

Vera Wang: Vogue Patterns

Vera Wang with Ralph Lauren at the CFDA Awards
Vera Wang with Ralph Lauren at the CFDA Awards, June 3, 2013. Image:

Last night Vera Wang was honoured with the CFDA’s Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award. (Read’s article here; Voguepedia bio here. Watch the awards ceremony here.) Wang, 63, has built a retail empire that began with the bridal boutique she founded in New York in 1990.

Thanks to Vogue Patterns, you don’t have to be Blair Waldorf to wear a custom Vera Wang dress. Vogue Patterns licensed Vera Wang dress patterns from the mid-1990s into the 21st century. The company introduced Vera Wang in the May/June 1995 issue of Vogue Patterns magazine. The cover shows Vogue 1584, a Vera Wang design:

Vogue Patterns May/June 1995
Vogue Patterns magazine, May/June 1995. Image: eBay.

Another Vera Wang design, Vogue 1583, made the cover of the June counter catalogue:

Vogue 1583, a Vera Wang dress pattern, on the cover of the Vogue catalog, June 1995
Vogue Patterns catalogue, June 1995. Image: eBay.

The first series of Vera Wang patterns consisted of three patterns, only one of which was officially a bridal design. (By 1993 Wang had branched out into formal wear.) The bridal pattern consists of a long-sleeved dress and overskirt in two lengths; the two-way stretch “illusion” fabric used for upper bodice and sleeves makes the dress an alternative to strapless bridal designs:

1990s Vera Wang bridal or cocktail dress pattern - Vogue 1583
Vogue 1583 by Vera Wang (1995) Image: Etsy.

The other two patterns are sleeveless, high-collared cocktail or evening dresses with mesh details. The first has a contrast back and collar, while the second has contrast yokes and armhole binding:

Vera Wang pattern - Vogue 1584
Vogue 1584 by Vera Wang (1995) Image: Etsy.
Vera Wang dress pattern - Vogue 1585
Vogue 1585 by Vera Wang (1995) Image: eBay.

Back interest is a theme running through Vogue’s Vera Wang patterns. This formal dress has a mesh back criss-crossed by broad straps:

Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 1767
Vogue 1767 by Vera Wang (1996) Image: Etsy.

The elegant Vogue 1944 features a bias back drape:

Vera Wang cowl-back dress pattern - Vogue 1944
Vogue 1944 by Vera Wang (1997) Image: Etsy.

This bridal gown may be made with a back pleat or an attached, ruffled petticoat that spills out through the skirt’s back:

Vera Wang bridal gown pattern - Vogue 2118
Vogue 2118 by Vera Wang (1998) Image: Etsy.

These two dresses, one with a stretch knit contrast bodice, the other with spaghetti straps and peekaboo back, are classic minimalist ’90s formal wear:

Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 2251
Vogue 2251 by Vera Wang (1999) Image: Etsy.
Vera Wang cocktail or evening dress pattern - Vogue 2257
Vogue 2257 by Vera Wang (1999) Image: Etsy.