Vintage Gown Shopping Tips
Two years ago (which in blogging years means decades ago), I gave a few tips on TheKnot on the Do’s and Dont’s of vintage wedding dress shopping. This is timely with the current trend, and today we’re going to go into a little more detail. I also invited Paula of Mill Crest Vintage to share tips on vintage wedding dress alterations.
Invest in a good tailor to take your measurements. Remember to bring the undergarments and heels that you will be wearing on the day-of. Keep in mind that you will be looking for a dress with slightly larger measurements to account for the different sizes, vintage typically fits smaller as well as to leave room for alterations. A good tailor should be able to remove or add sleeves, change the neckline and back closure, more on that below. Remember you can’t find two of the same when shopping for vintage wedding dresses, so don’t let it pass you by if you love it!
Some gowns may be too fragile to endure wearing for the whole day then dancing, especially delicate Edwardian cotton dresses dating 100+ years old. If you have your great-grandmother’s or your grandmother’s dress, and would like to honor it but can’t wear it, put it on a dress form for display at your reception or display photos of your family on their wedding days. We love the idea from this vintage wedding we featured a few years ago.
Not all vintage wedding dresses can be altered. Check carefully for rips, stains and other flaws. If you’re shopping online, read the listing description carefully or ask the seller directly. Minor defects are common in vintage dresses, especially the older they are, but often times they can be repaired. However, flaws such as sweat stains are irreparable. Gowns that are much larger than your size can also be very challenging to alter. If the gown is too large, a seamstress may have to nearly sew the gown from scratch which would certainly increase the overall cost.
Most vintage boutiques have already done the bulk of the work for you by handpicking vintage wedding dresses that are in excellent condition, in style, and ready to wear. Don’t hesitate to check out these shops if thrifting is too daunting of a prospect for you.
Paula of Mill Crest Vintage shares a few tips on what can a good tailor can do:
Add length: With banded inserts into the waistline or even added fabric to a hemline that complements other elements on a dress (like lace for example), length can certainly be added if the dress is too short. It really only takes a bit of imagination, creativity and someone who understands construction.
Add room in the bodice: Other things a good seamstress should be able to do might include recreating a back to a dress, change the button or corset closure, add invisible zipper, add bones or a bra insert in the bodice, shorten the skirt of a dress via the waist so as to not interfere with the integrity of a specially or intricately trimmed hemline, remove and replace a lining so as to add room.
Alter a neckline: A good seamstress can alter a neckline and even alter the silhouette of the gown. Other things that can be done is add gussets to create room in the bodice, add, shorten or remove sleeves, a add an attached petticoat or crinoline, reinforce and/or replace beading/sequins and buttons… many things that seem like they cannot be repaired can easily be repaired with the right seamstress. We have done all of these types of alterations for our brides…and it is truly one of the best parts of working with vintage.
Do you have more tips? Did you/Are you buying a vintage wedding dress? Please share!
Mill Crest Vintage is a member of Blue Label
Image credits and sources: top and third vintage wedding dresses from Kitten Paws Vintage; second vintage wedding dress from Tavin via The Loveliest Day; last two vintage wedding gowns from Mill Crest Vintage