With all the talk right now about what Megan Markle’s wedding dress will be like, I am wondering whether she would ever consider choosing vintage?
Vintage wedding dresses are still very popular with creative brides who want to wear something unique, nostalgic and also ethical, but many worry that they will end up looking old fashioned.
While there are dresses still out there dating as far back as the 1910s, and there is a style that suits everyone, choosing the perfect dress can be a little daunting.
With that in mind, here are five steps to help find your perfect dress, whether it is a 1950s full skirt affair or a slinky, glamorous 1930s bias cut silk number.
Step 1: Be brave and experiment
It is a good idea to experiment a little with different looks to figure out what shapes suit your figure and what details look flattering.
Start by flicking through magazines, blogs, Pinterest or even costume books and maybe watch a few old films – anything that gets you inspired.
Once you have visuals running through your mind, it will help narrow down the search, and you can be a bit more direct once you start shopping.
It is good to be a bit brave though. I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone from time to time as you never know what gem you might stumble across – a dress that looks plain on the hanger can look epic on, so try to remain a little open minded.
Remember to have some fun with it too.
How often can you say you have tried on a wedding dress from the 1930s but then ended up with a 1960s one? Envelope yourself in the splendour of it all.
Step 2: Styles through the ages
Whether you’re planning an era-specific themed wedding, or simply looking for a dress with a bit of history or charm, it is always handy to know a little bit about the iconic styling details attributed to certain eras.
For example, if you have an hourglass figure then the 1950s silhouette would be super flattering for you, and knowing this can save you so much time.
So, allow me to talk you through some key wedding looks from the 1930s to 1970s.
Following the roaring 20s and all its flamboyance, the 1930s took on a more sophisticated and simplistic approach to fashion.
Thanks to Vionnet, bias-cut wedding dresses gained popularity, featuring long sweeping lines and glamorous, uncluttered designs.
Rayon and satin were popular fabric choices and Art Deco designs from the 1920s transferred over to the 1930s with geometric trims, ruching and diamante jewellery/dress clips being favourable finishing touches.
Long narrow sleeves were ever-present, and the silhouette reflected the wonderfully chic tea dress shape.
During WW2, ‘costumes’ became the most popular type of wedding attire, with brides wearing a tailored suit cut on the lines of a military uniform to show respect to the war effort.
Alternatives included either a hand-me-down gown, your Sunday best outfit or a homemade dress made from scraps of recycled fabric or parachute silk – designs were kept simple and practical so they could be dyed and worn afterward as day-wear.
Look out for long sleeves and broad, padded shoulders.
However, once the war ended, designs drastically changed, and in 1947, a new silhouette was introduced by Dior known as The New Look.
Designs centred on femininity, with nipped in waists, broad shoulders and flared skirts. The introduction of this look was set to take off drastically in the 1950s with numerous variations being created.
In the 1950s, femininity was key. Think lace, full skirts, corseted waists, sweetheart necklines, halter necks, asymmetry, brocade fabric, ballerina length hems – the lot.
Designs were flirty, fun and perfectly celebrated the hourglass figure.
This is possibly the most popular style of wedding dress around at the moment so why not get an original?
After the bleak war period, this is exactly what the fashion world needed and was seen by all as a breath of fresh air.
This look is perfect for womanly figures and can also be very youthful.
The Mini finally hits the world. Oh yes, short hemlines were rife in the 60s and wedding dresses were no exception.
Peter Pan collars were popular additions, and designs took on futuristic styling details – think Space Age.
On the other end of the spectrum was The Maxi Dress.
This was a hugely popular wedding dress style in the 1960s that often included an empire line and kaftan/smock top designs – all with plenty of transparent fabric.
Ahh the 1970s. Wedding dresses took on a more ethnic, medieval, romantic and natural feel – think hippy.
Trouser suits were also popular and punk was a strong influence – the idea being that anything goes.
This look is perfect for an outdoor festival type wedding, as you can literally float around, barefoot on the grass.
Step 3: The perfect fit
Due to the nature of vintage clothing, sizing can be a little bit tricky, so it is always handy to know your measurements in inches (especially bust and waist) beforehand. Keep in mind that alterations can be made to suit your requirements.
The increasing popularity of vintage wedding dresses has resulted in some incredible replicas being made, and all are available in modern sizes.
If finding the perfect fit poses as an issue, do not fear.
It is important to remember that shapes have changed over time, and a lot of the gowns you try on were made to the exact measurements of the original owner – this can make finding that perfect fit even more special and well, destined.
Step 4: The price
Prices for vintage wedding dresses can vary depending on quality and rarity, although you are still more likely to find a bargain with vintage gowns than with modern ones.
This makes them budget-friendly while still guaranteeing that breathtaking wow-factor.
Prices can range from around £150 to £700.
Step 5: The finishing touches
Once you have your dress, you can experiment with different accessories, whether that means staying true to the gown’s era or mixing it up – there are so many amazing vintage gems to be found (and they can be your ‘something old’ too).
Don’t forget the bridesmaids either; a great idea is to invest in a good quality vintage reproduction that caters for all shapes and sizes.
Whatever Megan chooses, she will look truly amazing, this we know. But I would really love for her to embrace her ‘something old’ and choose a dress from the past.