Say “I do” to a Vintage Wedding Dress

Mimi ON Mar 25, 2010 AT 9:50 am

1940s style Windsmoor long evening dress £160

By Holly Barder

Wedding season is coming up, and while I’m not getting married, nor anywhere near getting married (sorry mum, I am working on it), it is definitely on my radar, particularly vintage weddings.

It wasn’t that long ago that the word ‘vintage’ conjured up all sorts of images of forgotten, musty old clothes and outdated styles. A far cry from its status today. Now a massive fashion ‘do’ for many people, that desire for the alternative – a unique, one-off piece you can flaunt and be assured no one else will have – has failed to translate with the same vigour when it comes to wedding dresses. And this week I’ve been trying to find out why that is.

1960s Wedding Dress £680

We often go crazy for ‘vintage-look’ rather than the real thing – a rarity in fashion that gets even more bemusing when you consider a wedding dress from say, the 1920s or 1930s, can be a fraction of the price of a reproduction. Look at any fashion magazine, website or blog at the moment and it is difficult not to notice an emphasis on finding cheaper alternatives. Whether we are working with a meagre clothing budget or have the cash to splash, we all love a good bargain. And in this case, we could be spending less and getting the real deal. Why then are budding brides-to-be not jumping on this bandwagon in their masses?

1920s Vintage Lace Dress with Jacket £520

For some reason, we will go to the ends of the earth and back in our quest for ‘the’ dress, spending months, in some cases years searching; yet rarely are these efforts put into a vintage wedding dress hunt.

Sizing is a major concern. These dresses are one-offs, and there is unfortunately no size up or down to try. There is some room for adjustment, but let’s be honest, if you’re a size 12, you’re not going to get into a size 8 dress, no matter how much you love it and no matter the tailor. But persevere, and you will find the style and fit for you, even if it wasn’t made for you.

It’s a ‘do’ for a lot of people if it’s a family heirloom that has sentimental value. Budding brides would consider wearing their mother’s hand-me-down even if their dream dress it was not. And yet vintage wedding dresses are bursting with sentiment, character and stories untold. They may not be your stories, but they still ooze that romanticism so many brides-to-be are desperate to capture on their big day. 

1930s wedding dress £950

Not knowing where or how to start, I think is the big problem. Google it and you may be put off. Unlike designer and high street, fashion of yesteryear will not find you, you have to find it. And yes, you will most likely come across places where you have to sift through tonnes of rubbish to find a winning piece. Sometimes you will sift through tonnes of rubbish and not find a winning piece. Then there are places, gems, that have done the hard graft for you. My Sugarland is one of these places.

Antique silk, chiffon and lace line the rails of its ‘Alternative Bride’ section. Jewels and beading adorn dresses while netting, lace and ribbon create a more refined decoration: full skirts add girlish charm to some while others scream glamour with 1930s trains. Have a look at these pics to see just a couple of the pieces I’ve come across in the stunning collection.

All these pieces are available at the My Sugarland boutique, which can be found at 402-404 St John’s Street,  ECIV 4NJ.

Click her for Holly’s last piece…

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