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Daily Archives: July 7, 2012

My North & South Anniversary 3/7. Fanny Thornton’s Big Day

This post is part of a series of loose thoughts on N&S to celebrate my 1st anniversary.

You can read about the Thorntons dinner party here.

Fanny Thornton had been preparing for her wedding to Watson with zeal, buying out most of the shop stock.

She was a huge strain on the Thornton budget, and it came at a very bad time, but having someone else take responsibility for her was a relief.

Undoubtedly, her choice of dress would have been dictated by the fashion of the time. Most middle and upper-class brides copied the style of Queen Victoria.

In the 1840s white was a very expensive fabric and colour, so only the wealthiest brides could afford it. They also wore Honiton lace.

During the Industrial Revolution, many hand-made products, like lace, started being machine-made.

 This caused many skilled labourers to become unemployed. The choice of lace as part of her wedding dress was not accidental.

Victoria’s wedding dress was made of a single piece of handmade Honiton lace.

By the 1850s and 60s, the trend for white wedding dresses had spread, and it had become conventionalized.

Prior to Queen Victoria’s white dress, most upper-class brides wore silver or metallic fabrics.

They were extremely expensive, and served as a reminder of the wealth of the family.

Victoria was not just a royal bride, a princes or Queen Consort when she married.

She was Queen, and as the leader of her country, she felt she needed to make a statement as the leader of an empire. It wasn’t her wealth or beauty that was to be displayed, but rather her duty to her kingdom.

Therefore, instead of flaunting her wealth in a gold or silver dress, she decided to wear a white gown, with the exquisite lace decoration, to show her support for the British industry.

Many believe that the bride wearing white as a sign of virginity and purity didn’t come into play until the mid 20th century.

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