Vintage wedding dresses have become a recent bridal trend because not only is the market for them larger thanks to great places to shop vintage online, but because going vintage is the most economical way to wear something 100 percent unique for your wedding day.
Whether you want to shop a vintage wedding dress by era or wear some vintage wedding accessories for a retro touch, incorporating vintage style into your Big Day is the perfect chance to express the personal creativity that your partner-to-be loves most about you!
Keep reading after the jump to learn which style of vintage wedding dress suits your tastes best and how you can buy them online now, including Victorian, Art Deco, Hollywood Glam, Wartime, Classic, Princess, Mod and Rustic.
Your wedding dress is more than just something pretty to wear while posing for pictures. (although admittedly, the pictures are a big deal!)
What you wear represents the creativity you’ve developed as an independent woman that now — as you stand before the person who will be your lifelong partner — you’re investing and blessing into the co-dependent relationship that is marriage.
Your significant other loves you for exactly who you are, and that’s exactly what your dress should represent: Who you truly are!
Let me know which style of vintage wedding girl you truly are by leaving a comment below the post.
VICTORIAN-INSPIRED WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Olivia Joel of Adornme / Her Grandmother
YOU’RE A VICTORIAN BRIDE IF … you want a dress that’s both romantic and ravishing. It’s a true showstopper that marks your big day with a capital “S” in Style.
The Victorian era (1850-1890) was named after the English ruler of the time, Queen Victoria. And truly, what better era to seek inspiration from for a wedding dress than the Victorian one, since it was Queen Victoria herself who first wore a white wedding dress when she married Prince Albert (also her first cousin!) in 1840.
Like Coco Chanel invented the Little Black Dress and Mary Quaint the mini skirt, we have Queen Victoria to thank for popularizing the White Wedding Dress.
THE DRESS: Victorian-inspired wedding dresses are generally an hourglass shape with a fitted waist and tight bodice. While Victorian brides wore corsets for the most dramatic hourglass shape, modern day brides shouldn’t worry about breaking a rib for sake of authenticity. Focus instead on finding a dress that flatters your shape and feels comfortable.
The markings of a Victorian inspired vintage wedding dress are a high neckline with a sheer lace bodice and sleeves. The high neck stops with a ruffle, which matches the ruffles at the wrists on your dresses’ sleeves. For modern flavor, look for fitted lace sleeves rather than the loose bell shape style.
The skirt is lined with tulle to create the allusion of wearing an authentic Victorian era hoop skirt. Also a must for a Victorian wedding dress is at least a medium-length train. Not only is a train great for dramatic effect when walking the aisle, but a great prop for photos when used to gather and sweep into a circle of white at your feet.
BUY: Victorian-inspired wedding dress by Om Again Vintage on Etsy, $225
ART DECO WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Kristen Foht of Raghouse.com / Her Grandmother Irene’s Wedding Portrait, February 5th, 1929
YOU’RE AN ART DECO BRIDE IF … you want a creatively inspired wedding dress that’s sexy and sheer enough to wear to the wedding’s after party (the one that follows the reception, that is!).
Like the roaring ’20s themselves, the Art Deco bride wants her big day to go down with the biggest celebratory bang possible — dress included!
THE DRESS: When on the hunt for an Art Deco dress, think lots of lace, crystals, pearls, ruffles and a matching headpiece of similar embellishment.
Channeling the era of Art Deco (the ’20s-’40s) means that you can alternate between a floor length or knee length dress of choice.
I love the idea of adopting the rebellious fashion choices of this era a la the shorter dress and no-waist style, but you can opt for a longer style or something with an empire waist that’s more tailored to your bod, too.
A drop-waisted lace dress is perfect to serve as the “base” for Art Deco-inspired DIY embellishment. Find a seamstress who can decorate your dress with sequins, crystals and pearls. Or for the more daring, embellish your white dress with colors, like feathers or faux gems and other decorative stones. Perhaps the colors you choose can complement or match your bridesmaid dresses.
Re-imagine and re-create the traditional wedding veil into a clouche-style hairpiece that rests on your head with lace spilling out from behind. Or, go totally DIY and create something more ornate with feathers attached to the side of a veiled headband.
BUY: ’20s wedding dress by Dorothea’s Closet, $825
WARTIME WEDDING DRESSES
YOU’RE A WARTIME WEDDING BRIDE IF … the thought of wearing a traditional white dress makes you uncomfortable. Heck, you were uncomfortable wearing a dress to prom!
To have your big day your way, you’d prefer a demure, quiet wedding that’s cost-efficient so you can use that money you saved on a superb honeymoon … or down deposit on a mortgage.
THE DRESS: The key point to make with the wartime wedding look is that rather than wear a wedding dress, you’ll wear a wedding suit.
The wedding suit was what the patriotic bride wore during the war-ravished ’40s, when rations were set on everything in the US and Europe from gas to food to fashion. Rather than waste material to make a lavish gown, women were turning to the skirt and jacket suits already in their closets to wear on their big day.
Since the wedding suit was a trend of the times in the ’40s, wearing a ’40s-’50s skirt suit is most appropriate to capture this style’s vintage essence. However, depending on what you’re looking for (a white suit, for example) you can find a wedding outfit from any vintage era to suit your “suit” needs!
To break it down a la the ’40s: The wedding suit jacket should have a single row of buttons down the front, with two side pockets and a V opening at the bottom of the jacket. The skirt is high waisted and flares to the knee.
Rather than wear a veil, wear a wedding day hat that sits perched on your head. Here’s where you can be more creative and add some creativity and color to your wedding ensemble. Add a light veil to pull over your eyes for a “tip of the hat” to tradition.
BUY: Wedding Suit by Dear Golden Vintage on Etsy, $225
CLASSIC WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Alena Tompkins of Vintage Twists / Her mother Angela Manho 1966
YOU’RE A CLASSIC BRIDE IF … you dream of a crisp, white dress that stands on its own with simple, stunning beauty. You can’t wait for your father to walk you down the aisle, and to read your handcrafted vows to your husband-to-be.
You chose a high-ceiling cathedral for your wedding ceremony and a country club for the reception. Champagne and an orchestra will be served for the celebrations to follow.
And we can’t forget the table settings — everyone’s names are laid out for the seating arrangements, and guests can take home their monogrammed wine glasses as souvenirs!
THE DRESS: The classic vintage dress is stunning simply because … it is simple. The dress is designed with limited embellishments, the color is a stark white and the material flows and drapes into a short train.
A simple neckline, limited design and and a modest fit are the key aspects to the classic vintage wedding dress. It contains no interesting waist lines, no ruffled collars or sleeves, no tulle or other interesting materials incorporated into the dress structure.
The classic white wedding dress was embraced most for a ’50s wedding. The dress is pretty and practical for any woman looking to declare her elegance without feeling like her dress is the microphone.
BUY: Classic vintage wedding dress (with train) by SL Vintage on Etsy, $899
PRINCESS WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Savannah Marie of Everybody’s Buying Vintage online store & blog / Her Grandmother 1961
YOU’RE A PRINCESS BRIDE IF … you spent the formative years of your youth playing with the wedding version of Barbie, never failing to find entertainment in staging her marriage to Ken.
Your dresser was decorated with costume jewelry, kid-friendly makeup (think Bonne Belle!) and of course, lots of crystal tiaras for dress-up time.
When it comes to your “adult” big day, you want to feel like royalty, imagining your dress should look like Cinderella’s when she meets her prince at the ball.
You don’t call it a wedding dress but rather a wedding gown. You want your dress to remind your future little girl that she too can grow up to be a princess!
THE DRESS: The epitome of a princess dress is all in the skirt. Like a proper Victorian gown, the dress has a dramatic hoop skirt that swooshes as you walk. The hoop skirt and dress’s fitted waist together transforms your bod into a goddess hourglass silhouette.
Much like Grace Kelly’s wedding dress when she married the Prince of Monaco in 1956, the princess wedding dress has a decorative and tightly fitted lace bodice. When wearing a princess dress, a bride-to-be may want to invest in a modern version of a corset, like a Sphanx half body suit.
The neckline of the Princess dress is lined with the lace, but the dress itself is a sweetheart neckline exposed below the sheer lace.
A true Princess wedding dress skirt is made from tulle, which rather than rest below a silky satin overlay fabric is exposed to the world in full frilly glory. If you wanted, while wearing the tulle of your wedding dress skirt you could switch out your lace bodice for a leotard and dance the Nutcracker like a ballerina!
BUY: Princess-inspired vintage wedding dress by The Vintage Studio on Etsy, $224
HOLLYWOOD GLAM WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Dawn Nelson Steckmesser of Timeless Treasures Vintage Boutique / Her Mother 1940s
YOU’RE A HOLLYWOOD GLAM BRIDE IF … there’s no question that a limo will be your wedding day chauffeur, and that your train must be long enough that a bridesmaid is absolutely needed to hold it as you waltz down the aisle to meet your husband-to-be.
Planning your wedding is quite possibly the biggest thing to happen in your life since your Sweet 16. You don’t mind taking on diva airs because after all it’s your big day, and you deserve the spotlight!
THE DRESS: To best achieve the Hollywood bride-to-be glam, your dress absolutely must be of the shiniest satin material there is. Look for dresses made with top quality silk with that luxurious sheen. Try to avoid lace, since lace resonates with more “girl” than “glam.”
Another key characteristic of a glam dress is that its “seamless.” This means it has no extra crinoline like tulle below and most likely a bias cut silk dress. Rather than puff, the dress grazes your butt, hips and then flares out slightly and drapes elegantly to the floor.
Want to up the glam? Add a white fur (or faux!) cropped coat to wear over your dress during that awesome wedding photoshoot you have planned. Or, look for a white fur stole and pin it around your neck with a gold vintage broach. Accessorize the rest of your dress with gold touches, like gold stud earrings or a gold jeweled tiara and dramatic veil.
And we can’t forget the most important part: Your train! The longer the train, the more dramatic the effect. You’ll want to decide how long your train can be based on transportation (will it fit in your limo, in other words?) and who can hold it as you walk down the aisle.
BUY: Hollywood-glam inspired wedding dress by Mel’s Vanity on Etsy, $248
MOD WEDDING DRESSES
Source: Carla Rey Carla & Carla on Etsy / Her Mother 1964
YOU’RE A MOD BRIDE IF … you wake up everyday feeling bold, bright and beautiful. The catchphrase “dance like nobody’s watching” might as well be tattooed on your body.
You’ve never owned a maxi skirt. Heck, you don’t even know what maxi means!! And that last time you bought a dress for a big event (Sweet 16, prom, college graduation) you took it right to a seamstress to hack off a few inches.
Mod brides are unconventionally creative. They want to wear white, but don’t want to feel like they’re completely “whited out.” Your big day is more like a big party, and you want a look that’s flattering, fun and functional.
THE DRESS: First, the dress has gotta show some skin. It stops at the knee or if you dare, shorter!
The sleeve style is short or none at all. The fit is a shift dress style (slight A-line flare) or completely waistless and free, like a ’60s tent dress.
Mod girls dig their white dresses, but they have more playful detail, like a scalloped hem, textured design or faint stripes.
Bows, ribbon and other sweet accents can give your dress a more playful, girlie feel. It’s all about finding a dress that’s just not so serious. And the best part? You won’t need anyone helping you into and out of your dress on your big day!
BUY: Mod-inspired wedding dress by Deoma’s Vintage Boutique on Etsy, $82
RUSTIC WEDDING DRESSES
YOU’RE A RUSTIC BRIDE IF … your kind-of-wedding is the backyard kind. You want the sun setting behind you and all of your friends and family dressed comfortably and cool for a warm summer’s day.
Nature and living your life outdoors is an important part of your life. You don’t enjoy the formality of reception halls and churches, which means you don’t enjoy the formality of dressing to “fit” the fashion expectations of your Big Day.
You want to look like an effortless bride with an angelic, peaceful glow. Rather than wear a veil, you want your best accessory to be the natural kind: Your beaming smile!
THE DRESS: The ideal dress of the rustic bride is the boho kind. It’s a little big country, a little bit gypsy and a whole lot of homespun. Lace dresses in ivory or cream are preferred — white is too traditional and obviously, more easy to dirty when getting hitched outside!
A deep v-neck, an empire waist and loose lace sleeves are ideal details for a rustic vintage wedding dress. The dress skirt flares and can end with a ruffle for a slight Victorian touch.
The dress probably doesn’t hit the floor but rather stops right around your ankles. Wear your dress with nude, slightly elevated heels or even a pair of vintage espadrilles. Don’t dig shoes? Paint your toenails and go barefoot!
Add a crown of flowers to your hair, and you’ve got yourself a happy, healthy look.
BUY: Rustic-inspired vintage wedding dress by Daughters of Simone on Etsy, $550
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