Allison-Antrim Museum

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Exhibition closes end of May, but will remain online.

Wedding Gowns

1880 to 2015

Stitched with Care

Using the Common Thread of Love


“Something old, something new, something borrowed,

something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe.”


Enjoy your stroll through the history of wedding gowns from Circa 1880 to 2015 –135 years.


During the time period of 1870 to 1900, the focus was on the woman's waist and the plain bodice with its perfect fit was accentuated by the large amount of trimmings and drapery which wrapped the figure from the hips downward and later in 1895 and 1896 by the huge leg-of-mutton sleeves.  The armscye was positioned more naturally at the shoulder, making it much easier to move the arms.  The bustle or crinolette disappeared in 1876 and a small hoop (unlike the Civil War era) aided in keeping “the mass of fabric away from the feet.”  In 1882/1883, the bustle returned with great visibility, reaching its maximum size in 1885 and finally died out by 1889 but gathers at the back of the skirt were present until about 1900.  During the 1880s, women were slaves to their corsets, which had very long-boned bodices.  Sleeves were tight and the necklines high.  Skirts, with their layers, often had “apron” fronts and trains in the back. 15 to 20 pounds was the average weight of a dress during this time period.   In the 1890s, as the bustle decreased in size and faded from fashion something else became the focus – the shape of sleeves.  The size and puffiness of sleeves “ballooned,” reaching their greatest size in 1895 and 1896.  Because they resembled a rear leg of lamb, the style was known as Gigot (French for leg of lamb), Leg O’ Mutton, Melon, and Balloon.  When sleeves became more slender with the puff of the sleeve at the shoulder, the bodices became fuller and were known as pigeon breasts or the mono-bosoms, which were stylish at the turn of the 20th century.  Skirts became narrow over the hips and the necklines rose.  Keep in mind that none of the exhibited dresses have corsets beneath.


Quoting T. H. Holding, a ladies' tailor, "It is quite clear that comfort is not an essential with women, but the fit is everything….You cannot pay a woman a greater compliment than to make her so tight in the waist that she is miserable."



The marriage certificate of Ruth M. Davis and Harry B. Shockey is an example of turn of the 20th century marriage certificates, which are very unlike today’s very small and more “governmental” certificates.  Ruth and Harry were married on May 15, 1920 (96 years ago) and are the grandparents of Kenneth B. Shockey.














1880 – 1883 two-piece, purple taffeta wedding dress, with plum colored stand-up velvet collar, faux fichu, and cuff accents reflect the style of the time with a small bustle and tight fitting bodice, accented with fancy brass buttons.  The details include princess darts from the bust to hem of the waist coat and the apron overlay and double flounced hem on the skirt. This was the wedding dress of Nettie Over (born in Chambersburg) who married William Wolfe.   Nettie was the great-grandmother of the donor, Janet Myers Godshall, Georgetown, TX.


        From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

        A gift from Janet Myers Godshall in 2012.


















This 1880 two-piece, purple taffeta wedding dress with plum-colored velvet bonnet, pointed collar, covered buttons, cuff and “apron” trim belonged to Hannah Ovalman who married Joseph Brown Davison, Antrim Township.   Wide pleats on the deep flounce more late-Victorian detail to the wedding gown.  Hannah and Joseph were the great-grandparents of J. Fred Davison III.


        This wedding outfit is on loan

        from J. Fred and Dottie Davison.


















Circa 1895-1896 – Wedding gown of Elsie Gump who married J. Weimer Bert, great-aunt and uncle of Grace Bert Cannon and Charles White (first director of Tayamentasachata). The Berts lived in Greencastle for a while where, along with Weimer’s brothers and their father, they manufactured and sold pants.  The gown is of silk crepe with a sweep train is accompanied by silk satin, laced wedding shoes with two-inch Louis heels.  The skirt waistline is high in the back with a low front bodice waistline that comes to a point.  Details include an illusion neckline, draperies and frills over the bodice and skirt and full, ‘pouched’ leg-of-mutton sleeves just above the wristband. The leg-of-mutton sleeves were only in vogue in 1895 and 1896. Sheer gathered under cuffs added extra frills that covered the hands.  There is a satin slip that accompanies the outfit, but it is in more fragile condition than the bodice’s yoke and lining.  The satin was woven with metal threads which have broken over the years and the slip, as well as the satin lining of the bodice, are literally shattered, making it too fragile to display in an upright position. Also accompanying the dress are two extra medallions of pleated silk organza, two garters, and a bow with one tail considerably longer than the other.  The bow was possibly used with the bouquet.  The extra medallions, one garter, and bow are displayed in the glass top case.


        From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

        A gift from Grace Bert Cannon.            




1900 to 1910 ~ Queen Victoria died January 22, 1901, ending a 63-year reign.  Her death ushered in the Edwardian Era with women’s fashions defined with skirts narrow over the hips and fullness in the skirt below the knees, with an elongated back forming a train.  This fashion detail was true for day or evening wear.  Necklines were high and the bodice was pigeon breasted.  Circa 1910, Paris designer, Paul Poiret, drastically changed women’s fashion by raising the waistline to an empire height, loosening corsets, using fewer under slips, straight skirts, and removing the high-boned collar.  Lace insertion, pin tucks, beading, soutache, applique, and lace were all signatures of Poiret’s designs.  Minie Hunt’s wedding gown in the trousseau trunk is a premier example of Poiret’s style.




1901 – Two-piece satin wedding gown with a sweep train was worn by Nellie Snively on her wedding day, October 10, 1901, to Chalmers Omwake.  Nellie’s grandfather, Melchi Snively, founded the village of Shady Grove, Pennsylvania.


Printed on the inside of the inner waist belt is “Moore  Hagerstown, Md.”.  Listed in the 1895-96 issue of Randall’s General Directory (of businesses) of Hagerstown, Maryland is “Miss Kate Moore, Dressmaker, 235 South Potomac Street, Hagerstown, Maryland.”  She did not take out an ad nor was Dressmaker listed as a business in the advertisement section of Randall’s Directory.


Details of the dress include the shirred sleeves and fine silk organza that was pleated on the upper bodice and was used as trim at the cuffs and hemline with a circular train.  The style of the time was a high back waistline and a dropped front waistline with a pouched front bodice (pigeon bodice or mono-bosom).   From the side, the silhouette was “S” shaped, which was accentuated even more with the proper corset.  Fifteen stays encircle the circumference of the bodice.  Accompanying the dress are Mrs. Omwake’s wedding shoes made of soft, calf leather embroidered with beaded eyelets.


Ladies of this era would have worn their wedding gown for special occasions during the year following her wedding.  At the end of a year, the dress would have been packed away and not worn again.  In contrast, the groom was allowed to wear his formal wedding attire for any number of years after the wedding.


        From the collection of Allison-Antrim Museum

        A gift from Ina Reichard Shreiner.


1901 Formal black wool tails worn by Chalmers Omwake on the occasion of his marriage to Miss Nellie Snively.  Mr. Omwake was co-founder of Omwake and Oliver, one of the predecessors of the former Antrim Builders, located between North Carlisle and North Washington Streets. Accompanying the formal coat is Mr. Omwake’s beaver top hat.


The label inside the coat says, “The Royal Taylors, Chicago    New York”.


        From the collection of Allison-Antrim Museum

        A gift from Robert and Jean Oliver Reymer.


The shirt (size 15-34) is vintage, ca. 1900, from the collection of Allison-Antrim Museum.


Men's evening wear hasn't changed much in 100 years.  The cut-away evening coat with tails became popular in the latter part of the 19th century and is still worn today.  Modern tuxedo shirts are very similar to their Victorian counterparts and the cravat or ascot, vest and ribbon-trimmed pants are classic formal-wear details.  Of course, the top hat and walking stick required of our Victorian ancestors have not survived as well.


        From the collection of Allison-Antrim Museum



The “something blue,” within the wedding gown exhibit, was worn by Aumeda Kate Shank (21) on October 11, 1905 when she married Ira E. Gearhart, in the home of the bride’s parents Abram and Cornelia Miller Shank.  The couple was married by Reverend I. N. Peightil, pastor of the German Reformed Church (now Grace United Church of Christ).


The material is silk crepe with a faux fischu sewn into the shoulder seam.  The fischu is embellished with embroidered daises, which also accent the square, illusion neckline, and deep sleeve ruffle.  Aumeda wore the elbow length white kid gloves and carried the blue linen parasol, which matched her blue gown.


The smaller of the photographs on the walnut stand is of Aumeda and Ira Gearhart, in their wedding attire.


Although not worn by Aumeda, the high top, white canvas shoes with spool heel and laces could have been part of Aumeda’s attire, as this style shoe was in fashion at the time of her wedding.  The shoes are on loan from Aleshia Permansu.




This 1911 white lawn, three-piece dress consisting of a full slip, over blouse, and skirt is the wedding dress of Mary “Molly” H. Fringer Crouse, Taneytown, Maryland, mother of Catherine Crouse Thomas who was the mother of Barry Thomas, Greencastle.  “Molly” Fringer married Harry J. Crouse on February 23, 1911.


The design and details are typical of the time period ca. 1910 - 1914.  The full slip has 60 very small vertical pin tucks around the top of the bodice which “gathers” the fullness of the cotton material making the bodice more fitted.  Below the hips are four rows of horizontal pleats and a row of eyelet trim above the deep flounce with four rows of fine insertion lace between four rows of small pin-tucks with a double row of insertion lace at the hemline.  The blouse (with a square illusion neckline and lace insertions) and outer skirt are of fine white lawn linen.  Vertical insertions make the skirt fit smoothly over the hips and horizontal pleats and gathers widen the skirt below the hips. The standup collar and the bodice’s yoke are lace.  Pin tucks, insertion lace, and long wristbands add further interest to the bodice.


        The dress is from the collection of Bonnie A. Shockey








This 1909 one-piece white lawn wedding dress was worn by Myra Fuss on the day of her marriage to Joseph Frederick Davison Sr.  The standup collar (supported with stays) is formed by two horizontal rows of insertion lace with a narrow lace ruffle that framed the face.  The placement of insertion lace presents a square, illusion neckline.  Pin tucks in two widths accent the bodice and skirt.  Vertical “ribbons” of machine-embroidered flower eyelets decorate the center bodice and skirt.  The bottom row of pin tucks flow into a deep pleated, hemmed ruffle with a chapel train.


        On loan from

        J. Frederick Davison III and his wife Dottie.














1909 – The formal wedding attire worn by Walter Reed Sloan upon his marriage to Mabel Leon Trout on November 17, 1909 in the Presbyterian Church, McConnellsburg, Pennsylvania. Sloan was the father of the late Matilda “Tille” Wine.  Mr. Sloan was over six feet tall as evidenced by the pant legs. Sloan’s wedding attire was a gift from Tillie and John Wine in memory of her parents, Walter and Mabel Sloan


        From the collection of Allison-Antrim Museum


















In the trousseau trunk (at the end of the display case) is the Circa 1911 satin wedding gown of Corral Horace and Minnie M. Hunt, parents of the late Hermione H. Brewer, Greencastle, PA.  The Empire waist became popular in 1910.  The bibbed bodice, gathered at the center waist with at satin knot, is heavily bejeweled with many sizes and shapes of pearls, seed beads, and bugle beads.  The high-collared, illusion neckline was very Edwarian.  The capelet-shoulder is detailed with pleats and ruched edging.  The sheer fabric of the neckline and collar and ruched edging reappear as trim for the elbow-length sleeves.  As with Elsie Gump’s gown, Minnie’s satin gown has also shattered because of the metal threads used in weaving the material.


        From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

        A gift from the late Hermione H. Brewer.










Trousseau Trunk – Some articles a bride might have had in her trousseau trunk were under half-slips, bustle, chemises, stockings, handkerchiefs, reticule pocketbook, and gloves.

1930 to 1940 ~ In spite of the Depression and its hardships, changes in fashion did not stop.  The designs complimented the womanly figure, waistlines were in the natural position, and the hemlines dropped.  Hollywood, as today, greatly influenced fashion and what women wanted to buy and wear.


The first of the two 1930’s wedding dresses has short full sleeves that suddenly change to sheer and very narrow fitting sleeves all the way to the wrists, somewhat reminiscent of Maid Marian from the 16th century.  A rayon full-length slip gown forms the foundation for the full-length, multi-layer sheer dress of silk netting.  The hemline is irregular with a sweep-length train. The waist and bust are accented with velvet ribbons tied in bows.  The crowning touch to this bride’s ensemble was the wax flower headpiece (draped over the neck). Wax flower head pieces were very in-vogue during this era. Tradition says, this wedding dress, bought at an estate sale, was worn by an unnamed Greencastle bride.


The second 1930’s gown also has a full slip gown, except this one is silk.  The sheer dress, from the Queen Ann’s collar to cathedral train, is made of warm, cream-colored lace.  The bodice is accented with more than three dozen satin covered shank buttons.  Simply stunning.  You’ll see a revival of this 1930’s style of slip gown underneath a sheer dress in Jenna Lamblin’s 2015, 21st century wedding gown.


        On loan from the collections of Bonnie A. Shockey.








The blue pin-stripe suit was worn by Noah Meyers, Antrim Township, when he married Phyllis Chamberlin on February 4, 1933.  Noah Meyers was the father of Nancy Meyers Pensinger.


        From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

        A gift from Nancy Meyers Pensinger.























The store-bought, yellow flower girl’s dress of loosely woven linen, with self-waist tie, was worn by Nancy Meyers, daughter of Noah and Phyllis Meyers, for Nancy’s Aunt Mary Meyers’ wedding to Ray Gibble on January 1, 1937.


        From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

        A gift from Nancy Meyers Pensinger.











On August 9, 1953, Nancy Meyers wore this wedding gown upon her marriage to Robert “Red” Pensinger.  The Princess style bodice, with small laid back, cutaway English collar, dips slightly below the natural waist and comes to a gentle point.  The sweetheart illusion neckline and bodice is overlaid with candlelight-colored lace.  The under skirt is satin with several layers of tulle netting over top.  Crinolines would most likely have also been worn to give the skirt a ballroom gown 1950’s silhouette.  The candlelight-lace of the bodice is used again as a generous peplum, over the skirt that mirror images the point of the waistline.  The 1950’s shoes are on loan from Aleshia Permansu.


To the right is the handmade, yellow taffeta flower girl’s dress that was worn by Nancy’s little sister Brenda Meyers Denisar.

                            From the collections of Allison-Antrim Museum.

                A gift from Nancy Meyers Pensinger.










Mother and daughters…  This wedding gown was made by the bride’s mother Jennie Harbaugh.  Bonnie Harbaugh wed Kenneth Shockey on September 6, 1969.  The gown style chosen was the 1960’s empire waist with A-line skirt.  The jewel neckline, satin bodice was overlaid with lace and nylon organza provided a sheer layer over the satin skirt.  The detachable panel train was made from organza, edged in the same wide lace that hemmed the skirt and edged the tulle veil.  The bride’s satin, sling-back shoes were purchased from Glick Shoes, the only shoe store, at that time, which did special-order dying of shoes for wedding parties and proms.


Of note: All the material and patterns for the gown totaled $41.70.  The shoes were $8.99 and the flowers (bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and altar vases) cost $33.39.  The decorated, four-tier wedding cake cost $23.00.  The total cost of the wedding including the above items and the 14 karat gold wedding rings, decorations, food, marriage license, and blood tests was $303.06.
















Nikki Shockey, Lancaster, daughter of Ken and Bonnie Shockey, married Dean Metzler on March 26, 2007.  The bride chose an empire style gown with scoop neckline, generously embellished with hand beading, using various sizes of pearls, on the bodice (front and back), as well as a simple cascade of beads on the left front of the A-line skirt.  The gown is made of Shantung satin with a cathedral-length train that can be bustled.


The bride’s tiara and wedding ring pillow are displayed on the left side of the glass top case.  The wedding ring pillow was made by the mother of the bride.




















Jodi Shockey, Greencastle, daughter of Ken and Bonnie Shockey, wore this handmade strapless gown on September 28, 2002 when she wed Eric Plum.  The bride’s mother hand beaded the bodice with various sizes of pearls and Swarovski crystals.  The princess style, satin gown, with organza overlay on the A-line skirt, has a sweep train.  The box pleats, with the help of an A-line crinoline added definition and fullness to the skirt.  The bride’s veil accompanies the gown while her tiara, wedding ring pillow, garter, and sixpence are displayed in the glass top case, on the right.  The wedding ring pillow was made by the mother of the bride.


























Mother, daughter, and granddaughter…

On June 13, 1953, Arlene E. Menges married Jean H. Shauck.  Arlene’s tea-length wedding dress is classic early 1950s with the small collar and tiny bow accent at the neck, cap sleeves, glass buttons, and natural waistline, accented with a chartreuse velvet belt.   An inch-wide picot trim was used for the collar and bow, edging for the sleeves, and to define the four tiers in the skirt.  The under dress is made of tightly woven cotton, while a sheer, looser woven linen was used for the outer  dress – a 1950’s reinterpretation of the 1930’s sheer wedding gowns and precursor to the sheer 2015 wedding gown of her granddaughter, Jenna Lamblin. The bride wore a crinoline half-slip to complete the 1950’s style.














Arlene and Jean’s daughter, Debora S. Shauck, married David L. Warrenfeltz on October 24, 1976.   Debora chose for her wedding gown one that was designed by Gladys Gomez for Queen Fit.  This particular dress was featured on the front cover of Modern Bride in the June/July 1976 issue, as seen on the corner of the table.  The Empire gown is of Antron knit jersey, with a ribbed knit bodice, and flared sleeves that are trimmed with Venise lace.  A circular, chapel length train is attached to the full skirt, which is trimmed with lace at the hemline.





















Dave and Deb’s daughter, Jenna L. Warrenfeltz, married C. Taylor Lamblin on October 16, 2015.  Jenna chose a gown by designer, Maggie Sottero Bronwyn.  Emulating the 1930’s wedding gowns and that of her grandmother Arlene Shauck, Jenna’s dress has a separate slip gown of white Vogue satin, which is worn underneath the lace and tulle slim A-line skirt, with a mermaid silhouette, and chapel-length train.  The bodice, with cap sleeves, has a V-neckline front and back.


Note the special hanger with “Mrs. Lamblin” in cursive.





















This 1962 pill box and veil was homage to First Lady Jackie Kennedy, who dictated the fashions of the early ‘60s.  The full length nylon gloves were also part of the bride’s ensemble.














Wedding Cakes and Toppers


Where was the first wedding cake served?  In ancient Rome, but it was more like a loaf of wheat or barley bread.  By the 18th century, the wedding cake had become a sweet cake with soft white icing.  Royal Icing got its name from Queen Victoria's layered wedding cake in 1840 that was spread with a stiff white icing, soon known as Royal Icing.  After that, the layered wedding cake became the fad.


Wedding cake toppers appeared in the 1890s on the cakes of the wealthy, such as the Crawleys of Downton Abbey.  Bells, cupid, bride & groom, or initials were the first toppers.  Over the next two or three decades, cake toppers became so popular that the Sears Catalog included a whole page of toppers in the 1920s.  During WWII the topper's grooms were dressed as soldiers.  By the 1950s, if one was getting married, one "had" to have a wedding cake topper.  The choices included grooms in formal attire, including top hats and as the fashions changed, so did the bride's gown on the topper.  Today’s toppers might be fresh flowers or flowers of icing, neither of which survived, except in photographs.



In the display case – this wedding topper was on the wedding cake of Technical Sergeant Glenn D. Hicks (Coseytown in Antrim Township) who married Jewel B Mauldin (Albemarle, NC) on February 11, 1945 (71 years ago). Hicks served in Italy and Northern Africa during WWII. He returned to the States in late 1944. After discharge, Glenn and Jewel lived in Maugansville, MD.


               On loan from Kitsie Hicks.












This cake topper was used on the wedding cake of Loretta Hausman (aunt of Kitsie Hicks) and Harold Holmes, in 1941.  Kitsie was their flower girl.














This cake topper is from the wedding of Julie Craig (sister of Dr. James Craig) who married Charles Baldwin on June 17, 1959.  On loan from Julie and Jim Craig.













“… and a sixpence in her shoe,” was worn for good luck.



Thank you to everyone who loaned wedding gowns and accessories for this exhibit!  Thank you also to the Fashion Archives at Shippensburg University and Franklin County Historical Society for the loan of dress forms and manikins.


I’d like to express a very grateful “Thank you,” to Susan Horst and Joanne Thomas for all their help, time, and talent in mounting this exhibition.



Bonnie A. Shockey

President & CEO

Allison-Antrim Museum

Winter 2016




Allison-Antrim Museum, Inc

365 South Ridge Avenue                                    Copyright © Allison-Antrim Museum | All rights reserved.

Greencastle, PA 17225