How to get that vintage wedding look

How to get that vintage wedding look

For brides who don’t want a cookie-cutter look, vintage style is the way to go. It doesn’t take the immense time commitment of DIY wedding fashion, and it’s much more affordable than having an outfit custom-designed. Plus, as a bonus, reusing vintage materials is a great way to make your wedding “greener.” It’s also a beautiful way to add some items with real history to your love story.

All too often, factory-made wedding gowns and decorations are made inexpensively and break during their moment in the spotlight. Flustered brides have had to safety pin together gowns right before their walk down the aisle. You can hear older guests muttering, “They just don’t make things like they used to.” However, through careful vintage shopping, you can buy wedding fashions and items that were artisan crafted–and, in fact, have already stood the test of time.

“When” to Shop

Saying that you’re holding a vintage wedding sounds great, but the term “vintage” covers a wide stretch of history. How do you know what decade best fits your needs? One way to decide is by determining your own most flattering style. 1920s fashion favored women with short hair who wanted to show off their necks and shoulders. 1930s fashion was close-fitting and favored tall, thin women. The waistlines of 1940s fashion favored women with large hips. Big-busted women were the ideal target of 1950s fashion. 1960s and 1970s fashion were the perfect choices for bohemian women who wanted more eye-popping color than the previous decades. Both the tailored look and the free-flowing look were favored for these decades, so there is something for every body type. Once you determine your preferred decade, finding the perfect item becomes easier.

Measure Twice; Buy Once

Beware of clothing sizes when buying vintage items. Size charts have shifted considerably over the decades, so just because you’re a size six now, you can’t buy sixes from Internet sellers and assume they’ll fit. Try on every item before you buy. If that’s not possible, take very accurate measurements of your body–the usual waist-hips-bust measurements and also the lengths of your arms and legs–and make sure the seller guarantees a fit or else a refund.

You can always tailor a vintage item after you buy it. In fact, most brides need to tailor store-bought gowns for an exact fit anyway, so if your dress needs a bit of tweaking you’re still in good company. But because the fabrics of vintage items can be delicate (especially those with heavy beading), it’s best to invest in fashion that’s nearly already there.

Where to Shop

Wonderful vintage finds pop up everywhere from thrift stores and flea markets to an opportune garage sale on your very corner. Once you make the decision to buy vintage items for your wedding, keep your eyes open; you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities you start to see. Look for vintage-only stores as well as online sellers. (Be sure to read reviews and check the history of online sellers, however, since scams do happen.) 

Before you start your shopping spree, try asking older relatives and friends if they have any vintage styles in their attics. You might end up with your neighbor’s beaded silk gown and a beautiful love story from 1957 to boot!

Mix and Match

The best thing about coming at vintage fashion from the vantage point of the present is that you have all of history at your fingertips. Just because you find a beautiful gown from the 1940s, you don’t have to scour flea markets for shoes and accessories from the same era. Feel free to pair fashion items from different decades alongside modern additions. As long as it all flatters you and looks great together, it works! That’s the point of vintage, anyway: you’re breathing new life into an old item and making it an important part of your current love story.


Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.