The strapless wedding dress was once controversial but are now very popular. It is estimated that three-quarters of wedding gowns purchased in the United States are strapless, possibly because they are generally easier to fit. This dress lends itself very well to warm-weather and outdoor weddings, and to open-air and other outdoor ceremonies; it has less often been worn in some church settings due to the revealed neck and uncovered shoulder, but these can be dealt with by the appropriate accessories.
Strapless wedding dresses stay in place around the upper body without visible support. The tight bodice usually prevents slippage, and support comes from an internal corset of brassiere. Dresses of this type were first popular in the 1930s, introduced by the designer Main Rousseau Bocher. Beginning as a fashion editor for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, he changed his name to Mainbocher and opened a fashion house in Paris in 1929, them moved to New York in 1940. In addition to dressing the cream of society and designing for the theatre, he developed the “Mainbocher corset”, which was able to hold up a dress without straps. These dresses had appeared in the early 1930s, but the “absolutely strapless, sleeveless evening dress” dates to around 1937, followed by the “naked look” of bare shoulders in the 1940s. Shoulder straps and jackets were sometimes added to such dresses in the interest of modesty, and strapless swimsuits soon followed. The Swiss designer Germaine Krebs, known as Madame Grès, designed flowing strapless dresses for Jacqueline Kennedy, Marlene Dietrich and others in the 1950s, and strapless designs by Halston were famous in the 1970s. By the 1990s, strapless dresses were being widely worn for weddings.
The strapless wedding dresses
are closely associated with Vera Wang, who began a chain of bridal boutiques in New York in 1990. Her name and strapless wedding designs for stars and celebrities became widely known through their media coverage and frequent mention in movies and television shows, in which she sometimes appeared. Although some religious bodies have been slow to accept the bare shoulders of strapless wedding outfits, the increasing number of civil weddings or ceremonies held in places other than churches has contributed to the increasingly popularity of the strapless design. Another factor in its popularity is that it can emphasize delicate shoulders over other features of which the bride may not be as fond, and the nipped-in waist and tight bodice are flattering to almost any figure.
Strapless dresses may be harder for some full-figured brides to keep in place, and this may be helped by using double-sided tape, which can be procured in the underwear department.
There are still some places where strapless garments may not work. A survey published in The Wall Street Journal in 2012 found that 72 per cent of business people thought that strapless dresses or tops were not appropriate office attire. For the bride’s big day, however, the strapless wedding dress, especially A-line wedding dresses
and sweetheart strapless wedding dresses are now an accepted and attractive option.