Otterbein University is playing host to a display of vintage wedding dresses that showcases changes in fashion and convention.

The display features 10 wedding dresses that range from the early 20th century up to the early 1990s as a part of the university's rotating historic-costume collection, said Jenny Hill, director of marketing and communications for Otterbein.

Jean Spero, curator for the exhibit and former historic costume professor, said white for wedding dresses actually was made popular by Queen Victoria, queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, who wore a white dress when she married Prince Albert in 1840.

The wedding dress from the 1930s that is on display at Otterbein is made out of a grey fabric due to limited availability of materials during the Depression.

"People got what they could," she said.

Spero said her own wedding dress, from 1943, is among those on display. She married her husband, Arthur F. Spero, during World War II, before he could be sent off to serve in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

"Of course, during World War II, there was a shortage of fabric; you couldn't get anything," she said.

So her dress was made out of organdy fabric, a sheer cotton that her grandmother had used for curtains.

"She came in and said 'this is the only thing we can use and it'll be white and it'll be pretty,' " she said.

Spero said the organdy dress worked because silk was completely out of the question and others were in short supply.

She said visitors to the exhibit can start to see a shift with the 1960s-era wedding dress that is on display because the color is not a pure white and is actually more pink in tone. She said this was likely something intended to complement the skin tone of the bride.

"Women were starting to become more independent," she said.

She said fashion in general also was changing significantly at this time, becoming less traditional as seen in the popularization of jeans.

Spero said the gown her daughter, Susan Spero, wore in 1986, is also evidence of this transition, as it was short and she wore a hat instead of a veil, which she said showcased her daughter's independence.

"Today, I think the only people that follow fashion are the kids," she said.

Hill said the exhibit is on display until August on the second floor of Roush Hall, 27 S. Grove St. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.

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