How to Achieve a Vintage Bridal Look From Head to Toe

Kleinfeld Bridal's fashion director reveals tricks to creating an antique style.

How to Achieve a Vintage Bridal Look From Head to Toe

Photo: Danny Baker for Epic Imagery

vintage wedding gown

When it comes to wedding dresses, what's old is new again.

Thanks to The Great Gatsby, boho brides like Kate Moss, and the massively popular rustic wedding trend, modern brides are clamoring for gowns with a vintage style. And why not: vintage and vintage-inspired gowns feature beautiful lace, detailed beading, and timeless, flattering sheath and A-line silhouettes. A vintage wedding dress or vintage-inspired wedding dress complements outdoor venues in particular, but can also bring out the natural beauty of an earthy lodge, barn, or home.

Brides searching for a gown that projects a vintage feel have a few different options of how to create their look. We spoke to Kleinfeld Bridal Fashion Director Terry Hall about the myriad of ways brides can achieve a vintage, boho-chic style. 

Vintage: The Real Deal
Although Hall told us he's seeing fewer and fewer brides actually wanting to wear an older dress, it is possible for brides to wear an actual vintage gown, whether it's their mom's, grandmother's, or found in a store. Hall stressed that this is not the time to start shopping online – because vintage gowns are so delicate, they must fit your body well, so it's imperitave that you touch and try on the gown in person. "If you do find something, you have two things to worry about: If it’s going to fit and also, is it going to hold up?" Hall cautions. Keep these factors in mind when considering a vintage gown:

1. Vintage gowns should not be cleaned. So make sure it is free of smells and stains before you buy. "When you're dealing with something vintage, the fabric is going to be a lot more sensitive, and cleaning it is not recommended because this is not one of those times you want to experiment or take a chance," Hall says.

2. Some (but not all) materials can be repaired if there are imperfections. Corded laces, like Alençon, and beading can be mended in a way that isn't noticeable. Clean tears can often be fixed as well, although messier rips may not be fixable. "What you really want to be careful of is if there are any areas of illusion or a very sheer element that has a hole or tear," Hall explains. "It's very hard to mend anything that’s illusion unless you’re able to replace the whole illusion panel." He suggests taking a photo of any imperfections and showing it to a professional who may be able to help, such as a re-weaver. 

3. Buy the dress too big rather than too small. Brides should really opt for a perfect fit, but if they fall in love with an ill-fitting dress, a tailor can only take the dress in – they can't let it out.

Inspired by Vintage
At the end of the day, Hall explained that brides may be better off buying a new dress that has a vintage style, or wearing vintage accessories, rather than choosing a truly vintage gown. "Brides have so many options now. Even five years ago there weren’t so many options. Now they can wear anything, they have every possible choice out there, and they want their own look," Hall says. "I think brides are going to have a lot more fun and a lot more options to buy a new vintage dress as opposed to finding a real vintage dress." Try these tips to get a vintage-inspired look:

1. Find a new dress that has a vintage style. Designers like Claire Pettibone are using antique and Art Deco laces, ombré coloring, darker and metallic beading (rather than bright white), and grosgrain ribbon to achieve a vintage look. 

2. Wear vintage accessories. Hall said he's seeing a lot of rose gold elements, floral and metal wreaths, headbands, and chandelier earrings. "You can take a simple chiffon gown and accessorize with beautiful vintage accessories and make the whole look look like it came out of the 1920s," Hall shares. 

3. Incorporate a family member's dress or veil. You can easily ask a tailor to work a piece of a vintage gown into your gown; or, many brides are opting to wear their mother's or grandmother's veil. Don't worry if has aged and colored – it may still match a new vintage-style dress. "Most of these vintage dresses that are new are in the blushes and candlelight colors, oyster, and taupe, and antique or discolored family veils go perfectly with the new vintage dresses," Hall notes.

The bottom line: Feel free to get creative with your dress and accessories – but above all, make sure the gown fits well and is made beautifully, so you can relax and enjoy your wedding day in glorious vintage style.

Opening photo by Asya Photography