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12 p.m. Miss Bull Becomes Mrs. Price: Elizabeth Bull’s Wedding Dress

Silk thread on silk cloth, circa 1731.

“Tradition in the family states that he attended divine worship at Trinity Church, and there saw, for the first time,  Miss Elizabeth Bull. He was so much pleased with her beauty that he gave up his intention of returning to England, sought her acquaintance, and during the year 1735 she became his wife.”

-Annals of King’s Chapel.

Before Mrs. Elizabeth Price clothed her children with the caps featured earlier, she was known as Elizabeth Bull. In 1731, she devoted her efforts with needle and thread to this silk gown. She planned the garment’s design, covering its surface and matching petticoat with embroidered flowers and eventually wearing the dress in her wedding to Reverend Roger Price. Although an early 18th century dress, this garment shows what would be stylish 19th century details such as a short waist and puffed sleeves, rather than the long waist and sleeves popular in the 1730s.

This mixture of styles within a single garment can be explained by understanding how women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used their wedding dresses. Due to the high price of clothing, wedding dresses were worn often and sometimes passed along to the owner’s daughters. Elizabeth, for example, donned this dress frequently and passed it on to her daughter, who chose to wear it when she attended the coronation of King George III. Being in regular use over the decades, owners added current fashion elements to old wedding gowns, such as the puffed sleeves and short waist of this gown, popular in the 1820s and 1830s.

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All images are courtesy of The Bostonian Society/ Old State House Price-Weston Collection