So, you are getting married (awesome!) and you are trying to find an amazing, unique dress for a reasonably low price. Why not think about buying vintage? Even if you don’t consider yourself as someone who is “into vintage” hear me out –
Why to Buy
1. Price – Vintage dresses are VERY reasonably priced. Typically you can get a beautiful vintage dress between $200 – $550 depending on the era, condition, and rarity. Typical vintage eras for wedding dresses are from the 1920-1970s. A 1950s dress in great vintage condition (little to no wear) will typically cost you between $250 – $400 depending on the style, or designer. That is great value for your money and means if you come below your budget maybe you’ll have some extra pennies in your pocket to spend on more important things, like your honeymoon!
2. Uniqueness – Do you picture yourself in a dress that is totally unique? That represents who you are, your style, makes you look beautiful, and that you would never want to take off? Vintage dresses are THE BEST for uniqueness because they have accents or details that modern day dresses would never have at the same level of quality (or for the same price!). In eras past dresses weren’t mass produced and were typically made by hand. Also, there is a very high chance the vintage wedding dress you buy is the only one like it that has survived!
3. Craftsmanship – Many vintage wedding dresses will have a garment workers union tag which means that the seamstress who made the dress was part of a union of seamstresses that ensured the highest quality of craftsmanship. The quality of the dresses are so high that they have lasted decades and sometimes still look like new. The details, accents, and style really represent days of old when truly glamorous and beautiful clothing were seen and worn everyday.
4. Romance (history) – If you love old Hollywood glamour, TV shows like Mad Men and The Astronaut Wives Club you appreciate the class and style of decades past. Your vintage wedding dress was born in that era and showcases the same glamour and style that we romanticize. If you choose a beautiful 1930s dress, one can only imagine the story it could tell of the bride who had it made. A 1940s dress would likely be the dress of a soldier’s wife who may have received the silk material to make the dress from her husband’s parachute in the war. Having a vintage wedding dress means owning a piece of romantic history, something a Jane Austen lover like me can’t get enough of!
How to Buy
1. In Store or Online
Of course it is easier to buy a vintage dress in person and try it on. If you do have vintage shops near you, check there first. Stores don’t usually have that many at once because they are hard to find. Usually, to find something you truly love in your size you will have to look online. I highly recommend Etsy (this is where I found my vintage wedding dress for my own wedding). There’s a huge amount of dresses to choose from. Doing a word search for “Vintage Wedding Dress” brings up over 35,000 results. It is highly unlikely you wont find something you love!
Here’s a look at my 1950s wedding dress, bought off of Etsy that I wore for my own wedding.
I loved my vintage wedding dress, it made me feel so pretty and it was also a lot of fun wearing it too! The dress really fit the feel of our vintage themed wedding, more on that later…
1. First off! Know what you like – Style/Era
If you aren’t sure what silhouette will flatter you, I would recommend going to wedding dress store and trying on different “vintage inspired” dresses that have similar shapes and styles as the era you are thinking of. This way you will figure out if a 1940s slim silk dress or a 1950s full skirt may be better for you. If you search by era on Etsy you can see the changing styles of dresses and also may discover an era of clothing you really love.
2. Measurements – Bust, Waist, Hips, Shoulders, Height
It is VERY important when looking at dresses that you measure yourself with your undergarments on before you shop. While searching for a vintage wedding dress I fell in love with a lot of dresses that were too small for me. Vintage sizes can typically be quite small, but don’t lose heart! There are medium and large sizes out there too. Sometimes dresses have darts that can be taken out, or you can take a dress in but you will want to ask these questions ahead of time and also ask for photos of the area in question.
3. Condition – Read these details closely and decide what matters and what doesn’t
Typically everything you buy that is vintage will have an imperfection. You have to decide what is important to you, what is fixable, and what isn’t. For my wedding dress, the capped tulle sleeves were both torn so we took them off. There were yellow age marks in the skirt that came out when I had it dry cleaned, and the bottom hem needed touching up. All of these things were very easy and cheap to fix. And, it made the price of the dress a bit lower too!
4. Seller reviews
You can take a risk and buy from a new seller who may be fantastic! But take a look at the reviews and ratings of the seller first to determine if they have been dishonest in the past. You don’t want to get your dress and find out they didn’t tell you something.
5. Ask Questions!
Don’t be shy about asking questions and asking for additional photos. Sellers are use to it, and appreciate that you are taking the time to figure out if this is the right purchase for you.
6. Keep looking
New product is uploaded everyday. So, if you haven’t seen what you are looking for in your size keep looking!
All vintage wedding dresses (except Liana’s wedding dress) are for sale on our Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheFrenchSeventyFive?ref=hdr_shop_menu
We hope this little article has helped you, feel free to contact us with any other questions you have and tell us about your experience! xo