Earrings worn for wedding, 1941
"Something blue," like most of the other elements of the rhyme, was meant to dispel the evil eye. The color blue had long been associated with purity, fidelity and love. (See our exhibit, Red or Blue? for more information about the history of the color blue.) Given the importance of a woman's role as mother in the nineteenth century, it's not surprising that the rhyme primarily dealt with protecting a bride's fertility. Traditionally, the "something blue" worn by most brides was the garter beneath her dress. While still a popular choice, brides can now choose to wear blue in their jewelry or add blue flowers to their bouquet. For this exhibition, "something blue" offered an opportunity to feature bridal gowns in a color other than white.
While white is considered the standard for bridal gowns today, it is a relatively new tradition. Queen Victoria first popularized the trend after her wedding in 1840. She had chosen her white gown to coordinate with the British lace she had wished to highlight on her dress, as well as choosing Spitalfields silk for the bulk of the gown. Her choice of gown set off a trend among the well-to-do for white wedding dresses. The dresses weren't strictly white, however. Gowns were more typically an off-white or cream, as those colors were more complimentary to most complexions. White gowns were only practical for the wealthy, however, as they were hard to keep clean. Additonally, purchasing a brand-new gown was financially impractical for most brides. Well into the 20th century, brides would either wear their best gown or purchase a gown that could be worn again.
Pictured Left: Earrings worn by Mary Lou Otto for her wedding in 1941. Mary's wedding dress was blue with matching blue earrings, while her shoes, hat and handbag were black. Mary's ensemble is featured in this section.