6 Wedding Dresses Like Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's That Are Perfect For Minimalist Brides
It's impossible to think back on '90s fashion without citing Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy as one of the biggest, most influential style icons of the decade. Arguably one of the pioneers of minimalist dressing, she had a way of making even the most uncomplicated of ensembles look incredibly chic. It should come as no surprise, then, that Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's wedding dress was inherently simple, and her pick has continued to serve as a major source of inspiration for the bride-to-be who prefers understated elegance over anything else.
Bessette-Kennedy's sleek, white dress feels as relevant as ever today, especially considering the fact that '90s style is currently experiencing a renaissance. What's more, the Calvin Klein publicist's wedding-day look was considered a game-changing one, for the very reason that it paved the way for the minimalist bride. She made it acceptable (not to mention, covetable) to walk down the aisle in a simple, uncomplicated style in lieu of a princess-like ballgown (think: over-the-top embellishments and tulle).
The style icon said "I do" to John F. Kennedy Jr. in a pearl-white, biased-cut slip dress by Narciso Rodriguez, who, at the time, was an up-and-coming designer. The floor-grazing number, which is reminiscent of today's ever-popular slip dresses, was cut from a flowy, silk-crepe fabric and featured a drape-like front with understated shoulder straps. It was, in a word, elegant.
Bessette-Kennedy chose to wear her understated dress with the perfect accessories: a long, tulle veil and sheer gloves. Her hair was pulled back into an effortless, low bun and her makeup was all about natural-looking glow.
The couple officially tied the knot on Sept. 21, 1996, in what has been described as a small, intimate ceremony that took place on a secluded island off the coast of Georgia. According Denis Reggie, the wedding photographer, only about 35 guests were in attendance to witness the two exchange their vows — so intimate it was, indeed. And though very few photos were released from their ceremony, the ones that offer a glimpse into their wedding reveal the most important element: Bessette-Kennedy's minimalist bridal look.
It's no secret that the hunt for the perfect wedding dress can be a long, daunting one. But once you narrow down the aesthetic you're looking for — whether you want a fairytale-like ball gown or a sleek, simple pick without all the added bells and whistles — the search becomes much less overwhelming.
For the bride-to-be who prefers, simple, understated elegance, Bessette's wedding dress of the late '90s may be your calling card. It's a throwback style that seamlessly fits into some of today's most popular dress trends (read: draped, silk silhouettes with spaghetti-strap shoulders.) Ahead, shop The Zoe Report's roundup of Bessette-inspired wedding dresses the style icon would, no doubt, approve of.
Shop The Look
This elegant satin gown by Halfpenny London is a perfect replica of Bessette-Kennedy's. Style it as she did with sheer gloves and a long, tulle veil.
Although simple, this pick is made extra special with organza sleeves (which offer a subtle homage to Bessette-Kennedy's gloves).
Here's a simple, budget-friendly pick that looks anything but. Best of all? It's comparable to Meghan Markle's iconic Stella McCartney reception dress, too.
Not into floor-grazing wedding dresses? Look towards this Theory pick, which you can wear long after your ceremony, too.
This Gabriela Hearst gown is perfect for the minimalist, modern bride. Up the glamour by accessorizing with statement earrings or fun, crystal-embellished pumps.