May 22, 2014

Riving the classic tradition of a wedding day going away dress


When it comes to weddings, as with so many things in life, certain traditions, customs and practises fall out of vogue over the course of time. Some disappear entirely and are all but forgotten, others live on as quaint relics of the past in our memories, and a handful, though not terribly common any more, still exist on the fringes on the bell curve of popularity.

One sartorial wedding related tradition that falls into the latter camp is that of the classic going away suit, dress, outfit or ensemble. Once a star player in many a soon-to-be-wife's bridal trousseau, this outfit or garment was typically a white, cream, ivory or other light coloured suit or dress (usually with coordinating accessories, such as a hat, gloves, shoes and handbag) that the bride changed into at some point after the ceremony on her wedding day.

For some, it may have been before or during some point in the reception (I've heard of brides who have changed right before the last dance), for others it followed the reception ceremony as the bride and groom made their way out of the venue and to the car, tins cans tied to bumper, a just married sign plastered on the back, and off to their gorgeously romantic honeymoon.



{A newly married, smartly attired 1940s couple in their going away outfits. Could the bride look any more elegantly perfect? Image source.}


Speaking of honeymoons, it was actually the writing of the first two posts in this spring's ongoing four part series about vintage honeymoon destinations (so far we've traveled to sublimely romantic Italy and passionately warm and beautiful Hawaii; later this month we'll be jetting back to Europe for another exciting post-nuptial vintage getaway) that got me really thinking about this lovely yesteryear tradition and how very nice it would be if more brides revived it (one recent, incredibly well known modern bride seen spotting a going away dress was Kate Middleton, who wore a floating, just-above-knee dusty blue frock).

Typically be far less grand and flashy than the bride's wedding dress itself, the going away outfit was intended to be something that would travel well as the couple embarked on their honeymoon, or at the very least, off to their new life together and Mr. and Mrs., wherever that may have been. It was an attractive yet highly practical garment or ensemble that the bride would then have to wear throughout her life.

Of course not every yesteryear bride donned a going away ensemble, and they certainly weren't as commonplace during the years of WW2 when strict clothing and fabric restrictions were in full swing (in fact, many brides simply wore their best dress or suit, perhaps with a fresh dye job to help perk it up, for their wedding during the lean war years, because buying or finding a wedding dress to borrow simply wasn't feasible for them) as they had been in the decades prior and later in the 1950s and early 60s, but certainly far more yesterday ladies did so then their modern counterparts.

It's worth noting, that the going away outfit wasn't limited simply to the bride always either. In some cases (then as now), grooms also slipped into less formal attire, such as a two or three piece suit (instead of their wedding tuxedo, military uniform, morning suit, or other fancier style of suit) as their big day wound down and they got ready to head off by carriage, car, train, boat, or airplane for their exciting post-wedding vacation.



{Bracing themselves against a barrage of confetti, the lovely couple in the 1950s illustration make their way through their throng of wedding guests and out to their car, en route to their honeymoon destination, while both wearing going away outfits. Image source.}


As vintage fashion loving folks, if there's anyone who seems poised to be able to bring this stylish and endearingly lovely tradition back into play, if only on a slightly larger scale than it currently exists, it's us! With that thought in mind, for all the soon-to-be-wed ladies out there, I've rounded up a selection of 15 vintage and vintage appropriate suits, dresses, and accessories which would see your off from your wedding in unendingly elegant style.

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{Ideal for if you're leaving your ceremony or after party once the sun has set, this cozy 1950s two-piece knit suit featuring a shawl collared jacket has wedding day sophistication written all over it. Fits up to a 36" bust in the jacket/25" waist in the skirt, $122.00 from etsy seller Living On Velvet.}




{There are few outfits around, especially wedding related ones, that this agelessly beautiful Tarina Tarantino Ivory Rose Carved Lucite Necklace wouldn't go beautifully with. (On sale at the time of writing for) $23.00 from Unique Vintage.}




{Quintessentially 1950s, this becoming Harry S. Epstein sand hued cotton-linen blend dress features a scoop neckline, fitted waist, short sleeves, wiggle skirt, matching belt and lovely coordinating cropped jacket. It is, to my mind, the picture perfect mid-century going away ensemble. its up to 33-34" bust/26" waist, $144.00 from etsy seller Dear Golden.}




{A wonderful blend of beauty and refined elegance, these grey pearl, cubic zirconia and silver tone metal earrings are an endearing way to symbolize the fact that you've just tied the knot. $21.80 from etsy seller CreBijoux.}




{Ideally suited to a fall, winter or early spring wedding, this 1950s cream hued wide brim fur and sequence hat would look smashing with a skirt suit or tailored dress. $64.00 from etsy seller Denisebrain.}




{Cross something old, something new (to you), and something blue all of your list in one fell swoop with these immensely lovely 1950s Van Raalte sheer white gloves featuring delicate blue stitching on the wrists. $15.00 from etsy seller CleaninHouse.}



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{This splendidly pretty, sweetly alluring three-quarter length sleeve Monte Carlo swing dress in sateen ivory from Heartbreaker brings your feminine figure to the forefront, while remaining wholly sophisticated and wedding day appropriate the whole time. Available in modern ladies sizes small to 2XL, $156.00 from Unique Vintage.}




{Cute, sweet and as pretty as a spring day, these round toe ivory lace pumps featuring darling handmade looking appliqué flowers with tiny clear crystal centers and would be perfect for a 1950s or 60s inspired going away outfit in particular. Available in modern ladies sizes 4 to 11, $62.99 from Amazon.}




{Coloured the same shade as the feathers of the birds so often associated with weddings, this lovely, form fitting dove grey dress featuring a sweetheart neckline would really work well if you're headed someplace warm for your honeymoon. Available in modern ladies sizes XS to 2XL from, $162.00 from Stop Staring Clothing.}




{Boasting tons of heirloom jewelry meets shabby chic appeal, this lovely multi-strand pearl, gold tone and fabric appliqué necklace would look glorious over a sheath dress or peaking out from beneath a suit jacket. (Currently on sale at the time of writing for) $14.00 from Unique Vintage.}




{Ravishingly beautiful and classy as the day is long, this stunning tea hued Chantilly lace Dusted Violette Dress channels a marvelous 1950s-60s feel and would the kind of piece you'd unequivocally reach for time and time again after your honeymoon was long over. Available in modern ladies sizes 2 to 20, $299.95 from Victorian Trading Co.}




{Weave a gentle touch of ladylike hue into your going away outfit with this enchanting 1950s pink velour hat bedecked with matching ostrich feathers. $48.00 from etsy seller My Vintage Hat Shop.}




{Tuck your post-wedding ceremony essentials (hankie, wallet, gloves, lipstick, compact, etc) into this fabulously lovely 1950s ivory beaded handbag featured an eye-catching floral design that suits a bride's going away attire so very well. $42.00 from etsy seller Vintage Chinchilla.}




{Exuding class and timeless elegance copiously, the curve hugging, cap sleeved Helena Dress from Stop Staring Clothing, which retails for $158.00 and is available in modern ladies sizes XS to 3X, is made of tan stretch cotton with a subtle, gorgeous floral print on it and would be a fabulous choice for your send off attire post-wedding ceremony.}




{Immensely pretty Minitoo Round Toe High Heel Ribbon Mary Jane Pumps that instantly call to mind similar shoe styles from the 1920s, 30s and 40s and would be a breeze to dance in with their 3.55" heels, if opt to change into your going away outfit before your reception is over. Available in modern ladies sizes 5 to 13, $55.99 from Amazon.}


♥ ♥ ♥



When selecting your going away dress, suit or outfit, a key point to keep in mind are that you want it to be clearly different from your wedding dress. They can certainly hail from the same era and have general similarities, but ideally they should stand apart from one another, typically with the wedding dress being the far more formal/fancy of the two.

If you are planning to head off on your honeymoon immediately after your ceremony or the following day, select a going away look that works best for the climate and weather of the destination you'll be arriving in (or at the very least, which will work well for the travel involved between the two points). Lace, linen, matte silk, rayon, taffeta, lighter weight tweeds, crepe wool, and cotton all make for especially well suited fabrics for this kind of outfit.



{Trunks at the ready, a young bride is aided by her bridesmaids - and a real maid to boot as well - in putting the finishing touches on her going away outfit, which features a beige skirt suit and fur stole, before she and her new husband embark on their romantic honeymoon. Every element of her ensemble would work perfectly in her everyday wardrobe, which is something to bear in mind for when compiling your own going away wedding day look. Image source.}



Keep your going away dress or ensemble understated, sophisticated, feminine and beautiful. Think light neutrals and other pale hues, a below-the-knee to mid-calf skirt length, relatively conservative styling, matching accessories, simple jewelry (such as cameos, pearls, diamonds, silver, white gold, platinum, yellow or rose gold pieces with in classic styles), and attractive, but easy to walk in, shoes (a comfortable 2"-3.5" pump/court shoe or kitten heel would be ideal for a long flight or cruise, as would a chic pair of softly hued ballet flats).

One idea I came up with years ago, though it's not traditional, that I think would be absolutely lovely, would be to select a going away dress or outfit in your wedding colours (assuming they're ones you'd typically wear). In doing so, you could keep the spirit of your wedding day going even stronger all the way to your honeymoon destination, new home, or wherever you and your sweetheart are headed after the ceremony.

Whereas most wedding dresses are commonly only worn once by (especially by modern brides), in all likelihood, your going away dress or suit is something that will then be folded into rotation in your usual everyday wardrobe. As such, feel free to spend a little more on it then you might if you were only going to sport it one time. The pieces in this classic ensemble will likely serve you very well for a long time to come in your exciting new life as a married, wonderfully stylish woman.

35 comments:

  1. How nice! What a wonderful idea. I'd never heard of it before, which makes learning about it even better. You combine fashion with history in the most entertaining of ways. Yay!

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  2. So many lovely things here, but I am drooling over both pairs of shoes, and the handbag. The dove grey dress from Stop Staring Clothing is gorgeous.

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  3. I'm sharing this with my soon to be wed daughter. I think she'd like the idea of a dress in her chosen colour as her going away dress,although I'm sure she hasn't even considered having one. She keeps hoping there's enough fabric left from the bridesmaid dresses to make a dress for herself and I think it would be perfect time to have that dress. Now I need to convince her she needs a hat and gloves too.

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    1. It really would be - I could see that idea catching on actually. How exciting that your DD is to be wed soon. I hope that your big day is as magical and fantastic as humanly possible. She does indeed need a hat and gloves - they add such timeless glamour to any look, especially on a wedding day.

      ♥ Jessica

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  4. I actually had a going away dress! I'd never heard of such a thing, nor had anyone I knew by the time I married, but my husband had learned about them from his mother. It was just a regular simple summer dress, the kind one would wear to work (I did wear it to work after the wedding), and I had little beige heels to go with it. I am the only one I've ever known who had such a thing, and I'd forgotten about it until this wonderful post... thank you! As long as that dress lasted, we called it my going-away dress.

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  5. how incredibly lovely!
    i really enjoyed this post, Jessica. the last picture is my favorite, i just love how each of the ladies look like princesses!
    my grandmother, (married in 1948) wore a cream suit and hat, but even though it was not a huge flowing dress, she is breathtakingly lovely all the same.
    ~Abigail

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  6. Ooooo, my favorites are the Harry S. Epstein dress and the Stop Staring dress!! So pretty. I do wish this tradition would come back. Nowadays people wear clothes that resemble jammies when flying on their honeymoon. :(

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  7. The most recent wedding I attended in January the bride and groom changed to leave for their honeymoon. It wasn't stylish, vintage clothing for they're a very young, casual couple but they're very classic people and they followed that tradition. :)

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  8. What a fun tradition to revisit! I've seen brides who have two different dresses for the ceremony and the reception, but this seems like a fresh idea, despite beings old. It always comes back, doesn't it!
    I even love the Harry S Epstein suit as an actual wedding dress that you'd be able to re-wear later.

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  9. So pretty! I don't know about a post-wedding outfit, but that day dress and jacket from Dear Golden are so freaking cute. I love all these wedding themed posts, they make me want to run off and get married.

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  10. How I wish this tradition would come back! When I married 21 years ago, I had a silk going away outfit that consisted of a dusty pink colored jacket, a cream colored shell, and a printed skirt in cream and dusty pink. It was my first outfit bought from a department store as my mother was an excellent seamstress and designed and made almost all of my clothing and what she did not make, I bought in thrift stores. I loved that outfit and wore it until I couldn't wear it anymore. Brides today look so beautiful in their wedding gowns and then change into very casual clothing to embark on their honeymoon. It was a lovely tradition that needs to be revived!

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    1. Your going away outfit sounds incredibly lovely. Dusty pink is my favourite colour of all time and one that I very much associate with weddings. Thank you for sharing your own experience of having a going away dress with me (us) here. I so hoped as I was writing this post that I'd hear first hand from those who had worn them on their big days.

      ♥ Jessica

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  11. I love all of the clothing featured in this post, and those shoes are particularly pretty! I was just reading an Emily Post book of etiquette from 1922 and a large part of the "weddings" section was devoted to the going away dress the bride would wear. I wish people still dressed up the way they did in years gone by!

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    1. That's very cool! I would have loved to have read it while writing this post (or anytime). I too wish that more people dressed in ways akin to how they used to. I miss the general sense of formality and sophistication that was once so prevalent in the fashion world (thankfully many in the vintage realm help to keep these elements alive with their wardrobe choices).

      ♥ Jessica

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    2. Jessica,

      I was reading the Emily Post book for free on the Gutenberg free books webpage. Just google "Gutenberg" and you can read it for free, too. :)

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    3. Awesome! That site is one of my favourite ever. Off to flip though Emily Post's 1920s advice at once. Thank you for letting me know, dear gal.

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  12. What a wonderful ensemble post! I've noticed, too, that this is a tradition lost on modern brides. But I assumed it was lost when couples stopped leaving for their honeymoon immediately after the ceremony or reception. Which, by the way, if I were getting married, I would prefer to follow the older tradition of "embarking" on the trip, as it were, complete with a lovely white or pastel casual outfit. I hope this tradition is revived by more brides! (And interesting about the grooms... I had no idea they had a similar suit!)

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  13. I should have specified the shoes with the handmade applique flowers in my last comment!

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  14. Such lovely items you have shared here!

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    1. Thank you very much, darling gal. It was all I could do not to buy some of them myself and "play" bride again even though I've been blissfully married for almost a decade (more fuel on the fires of inspiration for when it comes to my wedding vow renewal ceremony looks one day).

      ♥ Jessica

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  15. I really enjoyed this post. Makes me want to get married again (to the same dashing husband I have now of course!) our 12 year anniversary in a week!

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    1. Joyful 12th anniversary wishes!!! Tony and I will be joining you and your sweetie in the double digit wedding anniversary club this year in October for our 10th.

      ♥ Jessica

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  16. It is such a lovely tradition, love the vintage photo that you used. Some great outfit picks, I especially like the hat.

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  17. It's a lovely custom for the bride to change to her first "I'm married" suit. I do prefer suit to a dress. Your choice is spot.on, perfection to a single detail.
    Great fashion post.

    Hug
    Marija

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  18. I've heard of this tradition before and I can definitely see it being practical--We had a several hour drive after our wedding reception and my wedding dress was very simple and comfortable--but I can imagine in a large dress with lots of layers or one with a corset it would be way nicer to have something to change into for traveling!

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  19. Hello Jessica,

    Oh, I just love that 1950s Harry S. Epstein dress with matching jacket! And that photo of the young bride preparing to depart, with her loads of travel cases, wearing the stunning suit and fur stole...I could go for that look.

    One of my younger sisters, who, I have to say, is an extremely classy girl, had not only a going away dress, but also an entire honeymoon wardrobe for both herself and her new husband.

    I had never heard of or seen such a thing. In all their photos, they were dressed in coordinating ensembles of cream/tan during their honeymoon; it was truly a class act. It was one thing to have her own outfits so perfected; I just don't know how she managed to pull it all together and get him honeymoon suited as well. They were not living together before they were married. If that had been so, it would not have been so surprising that she could plan such a wardrobe.

    I do hope this lovely tradition of wearing a going away dress is revived. I believe it will if you have anything to say about it.

    Have a very lovely Friday,
    ♥Hope

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  20. I love love love this tradition and I wish I had practiced it with a going away suit at my own wedding. I loved the look of my grandmothers from pictures Ill be celebrating 13 years of marriage this June I cant believe its this long

    retro rover

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  21. I did this at my wedding! I did wear a going away dress because I've LOVED the idea since I was little! Oh man, this makes me want the photographer to get back to me even MORE so I can show you guys!

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    1. That's seriously awesome, dear Emileigh! I adore that you kept this wonderful tradition alive on your recent wedding day. Yes, pretty please, share a snap (or ten! :)) of your going away dress with us once you get them back. I'd love to see!

      Big hugs,
      ♥ Jessica

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  22. I have seriously loved that lace dressed since I first spotted it in VTC years and years ago. So simple and stunning. It would definitely be a go to piece you could use for weddings, parties, a going away dress, etc...and I must say that dusty rose pink is perfect.

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  23. Oh, those shoes, but I love all you've shown in this post. What a great tradition to revive. :)

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  24. I love this idea and actually had a going away dress for my first wedding. I had a large, formal ball gown and a going away dress was much more practical for the end of the night. I didn't have one for my second wedding as we had a much less formal ceremony and reception. I do wish more people would adopt this tradition. It's screams elegance!

    Deborah
    Hellcat Vintage

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  25. I had a going away 1940s-inspired pants suit in dusty rose/salmon colour. When I was married back in the early 90's, in a small country town, it was still the norm to change just before the end. So when you went around the circle to thank everyone wearing your going away clothes. Even my husband changed into a more relaxed suit (he wore his Airforce dress uniform for the wedding). I do wish I'd had all of the information you have provided back then and I really want those shoes!

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  26. Thank you for such a lovely post. I do enjoy the research that you put into your posts.

    I had a going away suit, my mother and aunts would have been horrified if I had not! In fact I had a whole series of outfits for wedding week, although that is probably more a testament to my love of fashion rather than any particular wedding traditions.

    Firstly there was the made by me frock for the party where all the families and the bridal party got together (in Canada/America I think this is known as the rehearsal dinner but we are not quite that formal in Australia). Then of course there was the confection of embroidered silk organza, silk satin and diamentes that was the wedding dress (it was 1987!). Then there was a frock (simple sheath dress in cotton made by me, the colours tied back to the bridesmaids but I am not sure anyone noticed!) that I wore the following day when all our family were at our house for gift opening and general partying because well, everyone was around, they had all traveled ridiculous distances to be there, so why not. Then I had a made by me red and white linen suit that I actually traveled in when we embarked on our honeymoon. I wore that suit to death in the following years.

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    1. Thank you very much for sharing the wonderful story of your own going away suit with me, dear Fashionista. I adore that you also had a series of different, classic outfits to wear throughout the week in which you tied the knot. Each of your ensembles sounds enchantingly, elegantly gorgeous.

      Yes, ma'am, if the dinner is held a day or two before the wedding and is intended to guide the key wedding party members though how the reception will play out on the big day, it is indeed called a rehearsal dinner.

      Thank you again for your great comment - reading it was such a lovely start to my morning.

      ♥ Jessica

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