Sindy Trendy Brides
“Most modern wedding dresses are pure costume. The cheapness of clothes and the facility of hiring have made them not so much a wardrobe investment as a chance for a once in a lifetime chance to dream.”
(Prudence Glynn, The Times, 1976*)
A gorgeous but enigmatic doll that turns up from time to time is an early 1970s Sindy sewn into an exquisite vintage bridal gown. These Sindys are normally Trendys and have been nicknamed the “Trendy Brides”. However, the very last brides were high colour, hard heads.
The story goes that sometime in the 1970s, these Sindys were given to brides who hired their dresses as a memento of their special day.
Britain has a reputation for its vibrant and innovative wedding fashions. Since WW2, hiring one’s wedding dress has always been a perfectly acceptable option, borne as it was from the need to be practical. In addition, from the 1950s onwards, young fashion designers turned their backs on couture, and supported by the advent of a whole range of new man-made fibres and fabrics moved into the ready-to-wear market with well-designed wedding outfits available from a wide variety of outlets from specialist bridal boutiques to high street department stores.
Just after the war and on seeing the business opportunity, Young’s of Wardour Street set themselves up as ‘Bridal Specialists’. The idea initially was to provide a complete service including all the accessories to dress young women coming out of the forces with so many other things to buy. To begin with the business was slow until they added evening dresses, which fashionable, wealthy women began to hire because they were short of clothing coupons.
Seeing the rich and famous hire their gowns tipped the balance, and by 1957 the firm was hiring out hundreds of wedding dresses during the peak season. They even had a mail order service for those who could not get to London. You could order a catalogue or send a sketch of your dream dress and your gown was posted to you.
Youngs were very entrepreneurial, by the 1960s their latest new season creations appeared regularly in newspaper and magazine articles modelled by young fashion models of the time, or where they could be found dressing celebrities for their big day. Their dress hire business grew and by the 1970s they had opened stores across the country.
But they weren’t without competition, Pronuptia the French wedding specialists had opened up their first store in London in 1962, and so the company had to find new and innovative ways to beat the competition.
In 1972 models dressed in wedding dresses were photographed by the Evening Standard, a London evening paper. It displayed a new range of bridal dolls, as a memento for brides who had to return their wedding dresses.
Youngs Dress Hire as they were now known, didn’t miss a trick. You weren’t given these “Souvenir Dolls” as they called them, you had to pay for them, and prices started from £5.95 depending upon the complexity of the gown. Your outfit was reproduced in miniature, and your dressed doll placed in a transparent presentation box.
As one lady told us:
“I was married in 1976 and hired my dress from Young’s in Leeds. It was a very up-market operation and a chance for brides to buy a dress with design, fabric and style that would normally be outside their budget. There were various price brackets depending on ‘how used’ the dress was. In my case we went for a new dress, fitted exactly for me. I could have paid considerably less for the same dress pre-worn by others. Each time a dress was used, their seamstresses re-fitted for the new girl. I was offered a Sindy replica of my beautiful dress – but it was quite pricey at the time and there were so many other things to buy – so I didn’t but regretted it many times since.”
These dolls were available for purchase from 1972 to 1976. In September 1976, Young’s formed a joint venture with Pronuptia, and the dolls were sadly discontinued
*Cited by Edwina Ehrman in “The Wedding Dress, 300 Years of Bridal fashions” 2011 V&A Publishing. If you are interested in wedding dresses do take a look at Edwina’s beautiful book.
If you would like to read about Young’s of Wardour Street in 1957, the full article can be found here:
Fashion in the 1970s was quite complicated and there were many different styles and ideas. The female “Me Generation” – the girl-baby boomers – with their desire for individualism, self-determination and consumerism were growing up and marrying. Interestingly whilst many of them were turning their backs on the attitudes of their parents leading to a rise in both living together and divorce and a general decline in traditional religious faith and social values, a church wedding with a dreamy white dress was still most girl’s expectation. But there was no defining trend, although romantic neo-historical fashions ranging from Medieval to Edwardian styles were all very popular. And why buy or make a dress, when you could get so much more for your money by hiring.
Here are some of the wonderful Brides we know of which provide a fascinating insight into the wedding fashions of the time.
A Sindy Trendy Bride in Ivory Satin
This Trendy is wearing a shimmering nylon satin ivory white dress decorated with a heavy cotton lace trim. Her gown consists of two parts. Underneath she wears a strapless satin sheath dress. Her overdress has an ornate princess line bodice with a satin stand-up collar and long tight sleeves which were very fashionable at this time. The skirt is split at the front with a train at the back inlaid with the heavy lace trim which is also used to decorate the skirt’s hem.
She has a fine net drop veil which has been edged with a fine silky thread and it is sewn onto her hair to side of her head and finished with two white cotton guipure lace flowers. Her hair has been curled under into a long bob and she is wearing her original white cotton trendy knickers. She was not wearing shoes.
From the Trendy Sindy herself and the style of her outfit we believe she is an early Trendy bride.
A Sindy Trendy Bride in White Organza
This beautiful gown would look perfect in a Gainsborough costume melodrama film. Made of brilliant white nylon organza, it has a fitted bodice with a stand-up collar and three-quarter length sleeves. The full skirt is embellished with a dust ruffle and it has a slight train at the rear. The gown is decorated white cotton guipure flowers and white cotton embroidery leaves. Under the skirt there are two petticoats made of white nylon – a full wide petticoat over the top of a straight sheath petticoat. The sleeves are finished with a hand-stitched bell-shaped double ruffle and the back of the dress is decorated with a huge bow with long streamers
She has a much more ornate bubble veil made up of three layers of unfinished stiff white netting with one layer reaching to the hem of her dress.This headdress is stitched to the hair on her centre parting and it is finished with two white guipure lace flowers. This Trendy has the longer hair which has been left to curl gently behind her shoulders. She is wearing a pair of plain white nylon knickers and she came a wearing pair of white kitten heel court shoes.
From the Trendy Sindy and her outfit we think this is a slightly later Trendy bride.
More gorgeous brides
Shown below are some more wonderful photos of Sindy Trendy Brides which have been kindly donated to Our Sindy Museum by other collectors. There is a fine selection 1970s bridal fashions amongst these stunning Sindys. Although these brides are some 50 years old, they are still beautiful.
If you have a bride that you would be pleased to show, do get in touch.
“I remember going with my mother and little brother to London for the day on the train from Hastings. My brother was thrilled, he had never been before. I tried on two dresses; the first had feathers on the hood and sleeves, but the next one was heavier and had beading and an overtrain with beaded edging, and as it was January and the church I marrying in was tiny with no heating, so it was my choice. I had to buy the doll, but can’t remember how much she was. I went straight to Germany on the day I got married, my husband was in the army there, and my mother had to return the dress and kept the doll for me until I collected her. She came in a plastic display tube that eventually fell to pieces. I got married on 11th January 1975 in Church in the Wood in Hastings. She will be 50 years old in 2025 and unlike me she looks as good as the first day I saw her, no wrinkles or grey hairs. I keep her with me always.”
This bride is a hard head, and we know the very last brides used these Sindys. This why we say “normally Trendys” in the introduction. We have only ever seen one other, a blonde many years ago and sadly not shown here. These were the last brides to be sold and we know this Sindy is from 1976, because the lady who shared her recollection above of choosing her gown from Youngs in Leeds, but regretfully did not buy the doll, wore the full sized version of this dress.
With grateful thanks to Gill who carefully considered and contributed to our ideas, and helped with the research into Youngs Dress Hire.