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Clothing & Textiles: Wedding Dresses of the 1940s


This beautiful wedding gown was worn by Patricia Bearnot (née Rosenbluth), who was born and raised in Brooklyn, and was a graduate of NYU. Patricia married Harold Bearnot at The Starlight Roof at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on December 6, 1942. There were 150 guests in attendance at the wedding and the groom, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry at the time, wore his military uniform. The dress was donated by Patricia’s daughter, Carol Bastien, who lived in New Canaan with her family for almost thirty years. 

Wedding dresses in the 1940s were often less elaborate- but by no means less elegant- than those from previous decades due to the somber mood of the war throughout the decade. Materials were often restricted or rationed, causing resourceful brides to get creative in their support for the war effort by finding new ways to make their dresses. Sometimes this was achieved by making a wedding dress out of a parachute, or finding an innovative way to decorate a gown with embroidery or homemade materials.

This wedding dress features a full skirt, high neck, and wrist-length sleeves. The focal point on this dress is the neckline and matching waistband, which are beautifully embellished with elaborate beadwork. A matching pointed headpiece with an attached veil evokes the sense of a crown for the wearer, or even stands as a reminder of the Statue of Liberty. The dress was purchased at Bonwit Teller on Fifth Avenue in NYC.


We are excited to announce that construction on the Jim and Dede Bartlett Center for New Canaan History is underway! Events will occur as scheduled, but because of the logistical challenges in the main building, the portrait exhibition is available by appointment only. Please contact