I have such a soft spot for a beautiful and much-loved vintage wedding dress. Obviously, I believe that wedding dresses should live on and have their day in the spotlight again and again, not just end up in a box in the wardrobe. So, it’s only natural that I would get excited about vintage wedding dresses.
And once you’ve read this article, you will see why too.
What is Vintage?
What a vintage wedding dress is open to some interpretation. Vintage doesn’t just mean old or used. A second-hand dress from a wedding last year isn’t vintage.
So, what is?
In terms of clothing, a wedding dress would be considered vintage if it is more than 20 years old and is clearly representative of a distinct era in fashion.
Some preloved fashion stores may consider a dress to be vintage if it’s more than 10 years old and is a designer piece.
Vintage wedding dresses can really bring out the romance and personal style in your wedding day, making you feel truly comfortable. The perfect vintage dress can also be the focal point of your whole wedding theme, with your day built around the era including choice of venue, decor, invitations, music and more.
Considerations with a Vintage Wedding Dress
If you are looking at buying a vintage gown for your special day, there are a few things you need to be careful of.
The older a dress is, the more fragile it will be, and the more likely it will have stains, marks, moth holes or tears that happened over the years.
Different eras also had a slightly different size and shape of woman you will find, so depending on when you buy your dress from, it may not be suited to your exact figure. Make sure that you do some research and check the measurements of the dress to be sure that it will fit.
In the 1920s and 30s, as well as again in the 1960s and 70s, it was more fashionable for styles to be straight, with women trying for a slimmer line and a more boyish figure. In the 1940s and 50s, figures were more curvaceous with distinct waistlines and A-line skirts that you may find more suited depending on your figure.
You might buy a vintage dress and then get it redesigned by a good dressmaker to fit your shape, or could use the dress as a base for your own modern fusion interpretation. You might like to find a vintage veil, belt, jewellery, or cape to perfectly complete the look.
If it was lovingly stored away protected from air, light, and moisture then it may still be picture perfect, but you should still have a touch of buyer’s wariness especially if you are buying online.
If you won’t be able to inspect the gown properly before buying it, make sure that you buy through a reputable dress store that will check the quality or offer you the ability to get a refund if you aren’t happy with your purchase.
You don’t necessarily need to find a real vintage dress to truly emanate an era – you may find a white or light-coloured formal gown that will work wonderfully, or could even get something made from some vintage fabric.
Vintage Wedding Dress Eras that we love
Some eras at first thought would rather be forgotten for their fashion disasters, but in truth, all of them have stunning wedding gowns that were born in each decade. Even the tragic 1980s has some gorgeous pieces to be found now.
The 1920s and 1930s
This was the swinging jazz era and brought with it stunning vintage wedding dresses with gorgeous art deco embellishments, fringe, lace, and satin.
Picture wedding dresses from Downtown Abbey or The Great Gatsby as your inspiration. These were straight and slim fitting, often drop-waisted and very sleek and sophisticated.
The 1940s and 1950s
A number of emerging styles appeared in these eras which were wonderfully flattering for brides. We love the newly defined waistline, A-line skirts and also the whimsical tea-length dresses that moved into fashion at this time.
These gowns were very feminine, formal, and elegant.
You might love the shorter tea length as an option for a reception dress that is a bit more fun and free.
The style of the sixties was more casual than fancy, with wedding dresses taking it down a step or two in bling and adornment. Veils were disappearing as well with many brides choosing hats or nothing on their heads.
You can find some great wedding dress minis from this era, as well as some flowing full length looks.
The bohemian style of the seventies is perfect for a modern-day wedding, with many stunning vintage wedding dresses available for you to tap into this great era. The halter necks and also billowy sleeves came into being during this era, both of which look awesome today (although possibly not both on the same gown…)
Around this time, we saw the first wedding suits come into fashion which have gained popularity again recently. If you could find a true vintage wedding suit from the 1970s for your wedding day you would also be the height of current day trends and the envy of all of your friends.
You don’t need to emanate Charlene and Scott’s big Day from Neighbours to get a beautiful 1980s look. While big sleeves, full skirts and lots of taffeta, lace, and other adornments came to the fore, you can find some gorgeous dresses in your Mum’s or Auntie’s wardrobe (or on our website!) that you would love to wear.
Still a time of big shoulders and skirts, a number of styles in wedding dresses appeared during this time that will get your heart pounding. Many strapless, heart-shaped necklines, mermaid and sheath style gowns can be found from this era.
If you wore a vintage gown or vintage-inspired wedding dress for your big day, we would love to see the photos – make sure to share them with us. Or if you have images of your mother’s or grandmothers gorgeous vintage wedding dress we would love to see these too.