A Century of Wedding Gowns

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly
Historic wedding gowns on display at Otterbein University

It’s no secret that fashion trends are cyclical; one only need to compare the proliferation of skinny jeans today with the popularity of the style in the ’80s (or, for better or worse, the return of crop tops last seen in the ’90s) to know that. So the fashion-conscious bride looking for inspiration may want to take note of a small but noteworthy display tucked away on Otterbein University’s campus in Westerville.

Otterbein’s historic costume collection of wedding attire only goes through the 1970s, so curator Jean Spero and her colleagues turned to their own closets, and those of family members, to complete the 10-ensemble A Century of Wedding Gowns exhibit.

The university’s collection consists of gowns from 1895, 1916, 1929, 1939 and 1952. Spero, 95, added her own gown from 1943 and her daughters’ gowns from 1974 and 1986; two co-curators of the collection contributed their gowns from 1966 and 1993. Some of the displays include veils, gloves and even hats worn by the brides as well. You can learn more about each of the ensembles in the photo gallery above.

Perhaps the most interesting items in the collection are a butterscotch-hued gown from 1895—white gowns first started coming into vogue in the decades after Queen Victoria wore white for her 1840 wedding to Prince Albert—and a gray, Depression-era piece that showcases the simplicity and frugality of that period.

A Century of Wedding Gowns will be on display on the second floor of Roush Hall, 27 S. Grove St., Westerville, until August. The building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.