On its debut, the blindingly white wedding dress had a lace jacket with a floor-length tulle inlay billowed by a big hoop skirt.
In 1983, there was no hoop and a panel was added to the top because the second wearer had much broader shoulders.
Last month, in its third incarnation, the dress had a deep V neck, no sleeves, and was yellowed by age to a fine shade of ivory.
Julia Cain submitted to months of fittings and alterations so she could wear the wedding dress of her grandmother and her mother when she walked down the aisle on March 12.
"It was just so much fun," she told InsideEdition.com. "To get my family together and to have all my relatives go, 'Wait, isn't that Phyllis' dress? Wait, is that Susan's dress?'''
Phyllis being her grandmother and Susan being her mother. The other constant? Her grandfather, 88-year-old Harold Traver, who's now walked arm-and-arm with three women wearing that same dress.
Photo courtesy of Chameleon Imagery
"He was just pleased as punch to walk another one of his gals down the aisle," said Cain, 26. "My grandpa was just over the moon. My mother was just so touched. She never pressed it, she never said she wanted me to wear it."
Cain first saw the dress when she was 16, as she and her mother went through Phyllis' attic after she passed away. But they didn't know what it was. It was crinkled in a ball, inside a torn-up garment bag and was so torn and yellowed the mother and daughter thought it was an old costume.
Then Julia's grandfather walked by. "That's your dress, Suze," he told his daughter. "We didn't believe it," Cain said.
But it was indeed. And when Julia became engaged, they brought out the dress again and she tried it on. "It just looked awful on me," she said. They took it to a seamstress, who was able to clean it up and get the dark yellow out of it so looked off-white. The neckline and the back were taken down. The lace sleeves came off to make new shoulder straps.
The result was just what she envisoned.
But the dress, for reasons unrelated to its heritage, also became something of lifesaver.
Not long before her wedding, Cain was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She underwent surgery to have the gland removed after doctors told her it couldn't wait until after the ceremony.
Getting the dress ready became something she could focus on, something to create and design, something that diverted her attention from cancer.
"This was the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
The surgeons said they think they got it all. The procedure left only a tiny scar on her throat that was easily covered by makeup on her wedding day.
"The whole wedding was sentimental," she said. Her grandfather walked her down the aisle because her father died when she was nine.
It was a comfort to know her dad had seen her wedding dress, and he had known the warmth of seeing it worn by a woman he loved.