Vintage Wedding Dresses? Every bride wants to look beautiful and unique on her wedding day. Rather than getting a dress off the rack, have you considered a vintage wedding dress? The classic beauty of a look that harkens back to an earlier era can transport you to a magical place. Additionally, vintage wedding dresses often feature exquisite details and workmanship for a fraction of the price that you’d pay for a comparable modern dress.
But where can you find a vintage wedding dress? And what pitfalls should you watch out for when shopping for one?
Avoid dresses that have stains or need repairs You know how hard it is to get out a stain that has been sitting for a couple of weeks, now imagine that stain has been sitting for 20 years or more. Additionally, vintage fabrics are difficult to match with modern ones, so it isn’t likely you will be able to patch or repair one. If you fall in love with a dress that needs repairs, all is not lost, but be prepared to pay a skilled seamstress $200 or more to fix it.
Be wary of the oldest dresses Fabric deteriorates over time. The good news is that because a vintage wedding dress was a special occasion outfit, it has likely been warn and handled far less than other garments, and thus might be in better shape. I’d advise you to avoid any dress made before 1900, and to take a careful look at any 20′s silk chiffons. Take some time to stretch the fabric, look at it, and note any weakening. Again, a skilled seamstress can stabilize some fabrics, but you’ll need to be prepared for the cost.
Figure out your budget before you shop This is a good rule for any wedding gown shopping, not just vintage wedding dresses. That way, you can avoid falling in love with the unattainable.
You will not wear your regular dress size in a vintage dress. Not only have people generally gotten taller and thicker, but the clothing industry has been gradually adjusting sizes downward. If you’re buying a dress online, the best thing to do is to carefully take your measurements and ask the seller to provide you with exact measurements as well. Check measurements like shoulders and rise as well as bust, waist, and hips. Be sure to leave some wiggle room so that you can comfortably move. In a store, you’ll often just have to try things on and be open to wearing a larger size. Since many dresses were worn with a girdle or corset, you may want to wear one as well. In this case, buy one before you’ve made your final wedding dress purchase so that you can make sure it will still fit properly. And last, but certainly not least, be aware that most vintage dresses run from a modern size 0-6 or so, with a few going up to a 10 or 12, and many are on the short side. If you don’t fit in this size range, you may want to consider other options, or be prepared to be patient.
Consider buying a reproduction, or making one If it’s the vintage look you’re going for, you should know that many wedding dresses reference earlier eras, particularly the 40′s and 50′s. Visit a bridal salon, and tell them you’re looking for a retro look. Some stores, such as Isadora’s, may specialize in reproduction dresses. You can also check out vintage and reproduction vintage patterns if you’re able to sew or to give to a seamstress.
Where to buy a vintage wedding dress
You may have luck at your local vintage store or antique store. For more recent eras, I’ve found that thrift stores carry a good stock of vintage wedding dresses from the 70′s and 80′s and sometimes older.