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Tuesday 15 April 2014

Sluttishly Vintage: Wedding Dresses

In terms of desirable vintage items, you don't get more sought after and fought over than the perfect vintage wedding frock. Aside from a few questionable 1980s numbers, all those things vintage clothing can be great for - romance, craftsmanship, uniqueness - are perfect for weddings. And I've a feeling they will become even more desirable after the Wedding Dress exhibition opens at the V&A museum next month. Vintage is a great option even if you don't want to wear a white dress. Take a look at the likes of Juno Says Hello, William Vintage and Atelier Mayer for something really special. But for little - or big - white dresses, come this way...

Buying online can be odd sometimes. Buying vintage can be even harder. So let's only imagine the potential trauma in buying a vintage wedding dress online. For that reason, many vintage numbers are found in salons where you can try before you buy (or cry, maybe). The stunning number above is from London's Elizabeth Avey, while Fur Coat No Knickers is also a great bet in the capital. Elsewhere in the country, you could look at Vintage Bridal Gowns in Leamington Spa, Abigail's Vintage Bridal in the East Midlands, York's Glory Days Vintage or Edinburgh's Those Were The Days. Very Vintage Bridal in Carnforth and Days of Grace in Budleigh Salterton look like they are worth checking out too.

But if you can't get to any of those, you can buy lovely pieces directly online too. Unfortunately vintage wedding dresses do come up small (chances are that 1950s white dress was actually made for a teenager's prom in the States - there's little wonder most grown women can't fit into it), so you might have to befriend a seamstress to advise on whether something can be adapted to fit.

As with anything vintage, Etsy is a great place to start. Ooh Mrs James Bridal specialises, as the name might suggest, in wedding dresses from all decades - we've featured their fabulous red number on our Pinterest board. This stunning 1940s ivory dress is from Wear Once More and is £265. As with buying any vintage, work out which decade's dress shapes suit you best and make a beeline for them.

The 1950s shape is quite flattering if you've got a bit of a bust - plus the dresses are full-on romantic, reflecting the post-war optimism of the period. Case in point is this beautiful ballerina dress from Bijou and Vintage. There's more photographs on Etsy - make sure you check out the divine covered buttons that run down the back.

More 1950s fun times, with this amazing tulle creation. Available from Save As Vintage, priced at a relatively bargain £121.99, I'm tempted to snap this up in case I ever decide to walk down the aisle. Alternatively, I might just wear it out dancing.

Oh my god, this picture looks so much like Sally Draper from Mad Men is getting married (She's isn't. At least I don't think - I haven't caught up with season 7 yet). But if she wanted to, this is completely the right period, being a relatively streamlined 1960s number. It's from Belle in Wonderland's Etsy store.

Belle in Wonderland has its own online store too. Just don't click on it and panic because it's in Japanese. The owner is Japanese and the shop's main customers are in Japan, but they are based in London so they can ship to the UK (there's an English text button at the right on the bottom of the screen). There are some beautiful things available, such as this 1960s number.

Another online option, and something of an unexpected treasure trove: Oxfam. They've got a dedicated bridal vintage section. It's a bit of a mission to navigate however - you're peering at endless tiny thumbnails of white dresses - but the rewards can be great with finds like the handmade Broderie Anglaise dress shown above, or this designer number, or this chic 1960s number.

I mentioned Juno Says Hello earlier. While they don't have a wide selection of white wedding dresses, I couldn't not flag up this immaculate looking 1920s bridal gown, a really unique piece.

Another stunning 1920s number. This flapper dress one is from the selection offered by Brighton-based Hope and Harlequin. Hope and Harlequin also offer made-to-measure vintage inspired designs so you can be certain to get exactly what you want.

Unsurprisingly, given the demand, there's lots of companies offering vintage-inspired designs. Jane Bourvis, based in west London, uses antique lace and embroidery to recreate styles of the 1920s and 30s, while Harlequin Fox works in south London (take a look at this stunning Jazz Age inspired dress she created). At Circa Brides you can browse styles according to decade from the 1920s through to the 1970s. The 1960s-inspired Lou is shown above. Fur Coat No Knickers, who I mentioned earlier, have also recently launched their Flaunt It! Collection. It's based on some of their favourite dresses from over the years and is available up to a size 22.

Another great way to source possibilities is to visit a wedding fair - there are now loads dedicated to vintage weddings such as Vintage Wedding Fair based in London and Harrogate (the picture above comes from one of their fairs), the London Vintage Wedding Fair, A Most Curious Wedding Fair (London and Norwich), Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair, Vintage Chic Wedding Fair (last seen in Birmingham) and Secret Vintage Wedding Fair (they held their debut event in Manchester last month). Do add any more suggestions in the comments.

For more information and inspiration, try the books Vintage Wedding Style or Style Me Vintage: Weddings, and the V&A exhibition book will give you plenty to drool over too. And, of course, the unbeatable blog on vintage and alternative weddings (and masses of eye candy, even with no wedding on the horizon) is Rock n Roll bride.

But, if I were to get married tomorrow (I'm not Mum, don't rush out to the train station), I'd be seriously tempted to do it in this neat 1940s suit. It's £98 from PossessedN1 on Etsy meaning there's definitely enough left in the budget to go wild on vintage crockery


  1. That suit would look incredible on you! The older I get, the more I feel like a huge wedding dress would just be such a faff that I'd be exhausted just putting the damn thing on. I don't want people to help me go for a wee.

    1. Thank you - I might just get married tomorrow in that case! *looks around for willing groom*

      I know what you mean. I don't want people helping me go for a wee at any time in my life, let alone on my wedding day.

      At the Biba exhibition in Brighton last year there were some great examples of things people had worn for weddings. I wouldn't go as far as the woman who got married in a crop top and flares, but I do think there is something to be said to getting married in something you simply love, whatever colour and shape it is.

  2. I totally agree with you. When I was hunting for my dress, I remember saying to the lady in the store that I wanted to be able to:
    Go to the toilet - alone,
    Eat my dinner - not feel all sucked in and restricted,
    Dance around all night,
    Not have back fat.
    She was pretty shocked that 'I want to look like a princess' wasn't in there but we found my perfect dress and I did ALL the things I wanted to! :)

    1. If you're going to spend hundreds on a dress it really has to be one that you'll enjoy wearing. Dancing and food are very important things.

      It also strikes me that going for a wee is that only time you'll get to yourself all day.

  3. I could smell this was a Frances post from the first sentence - I love it. I want all of the things, and I cannot wait to go to the V&A exhibition.

    KelStar, I absolutely love your list. Spot on. What on earth is the point of requiring attendants to have a piss at your own party?

  4. All gorgeous tips! I've actually worked for William Vintage and Atelier Mayer and I've worn pieces from Juno Says Hello- all have great collections. One Vintage also have some amazing stuff, but quite spendy and always in tiny sizes. This is a beauty


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