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Bride & Gloom: 1910

Bride & Gloom: 1910

Circa 1910. "Woman in wedding dress holding flowers." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Miss Vanderbilt, is that you?

As I've come to learn from being a devotee of Shorpy for nigh on a decade now, one didn't have to hold a pose for hours and hours to get one's picture taken. So, the bride wasn't frowning (or at least looking downright depressed) because it would have been painful to hold a smile for a long time. Which leads me to wonder...why didn't brides smile in their wedding portraits back then? Was it not the custom? Was it supposedly bad luck or something? I've just always found it odd that most wedding pictures I've seen from the late 1800s and early 1900s all feature very severe looking brides and grooms. I'm sure they weren't *all* dragged to the altar against their will like the Duchess of Marlborough was.

[Formal posed portraits in oil rarely showed the subjects smiling - it was a centuries-old convention that photography inherited. -tterrace]

English, actually

My wife has been smocking for the past 15 years or so, and it's actually an English art. The name comes from the smocks English laborers wore until the advent of the steam engine--many horsepower and fast-moving leather belts driving machinery required more close-fitting attire to avoid being killed in factories. Prior to this, it was a way to introduce elasticity and create a garment that could be loosened for coolness in summer and then tightened for warmth in winter.

The dress in question is fairly loosely pleated--smocked garments today have much smaller pleats--and embroidered with a loose diamond pattern. It's very interesting in that the elasticity of the embroidery/smocking is over a corset. Maybe it's an act of mercy for a woman whose wedding was going to be on a very hot day, and maybe that explains her expression as well.

Either that, or she's marrying as well as Maureen O'Hara's character did in "How Green Was My Valley".


I've never seen that type of smocking in such an elegant dress. Can someone elaborate? Is it European? French?

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