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Vintage Wedding Dresses


Bride wearing a gold vintage dress

Have you noticed that the vintage wedding dress is a growing trend? And it might be here to stay. It not only answers to our desire for something special and unique, but also our increasing concern for sustainability. So if you're wondering if a vintage wedding dress could be for you, read on.

We have invited Siobhan Mulholland-Cox, the founder and owner of Cambridge Vintage Bridal to give us an introduction to the topic. Siobhan’s passion for vintage has led to the creation of her vintage bridal shop. Since 2017, she has been on the lookout for the most beautiful vintage wedding dresses in the UK.


Q. There is something very romantic about a vintage wedding dress. It makes us think of interesting heirlooms and exciting discoveries in our granny’s attic. On the other hand, we don’t want ‘dated’. And certainly not faded, or ill-fitting. How does a bride get it right with vintage? How can she make sure that her vintage dress fits her perfectly and shows her at her best?


A. I think vintage wedding dresses should look like the future and not the past, and this is what we are trying to do at Cambridge Vintage Bridal. Finding beautiful dresses is what our work is about.

A bride choosing vintage will also have a unique piece to wear on her wedding day. A vintage dress is most likely going to be one of a kind, as many brides had their gowns tailor-made for them. If they bought off-the-peg gowns, the chances that these gowns are widely available today are very slim. As for achieving a perfect fit, the savings made by purchasing a vintage dress can be put towards having a seamstress help tailor the gown.

Bride wearing 1950s wedding dress
Photo credit @paige_elisa

Q. How old does a dress need to be to qualify as vintage?


All vintage retailers have their own interpretations. Cambridge Vintage Bridal doesn’t stock anything younger than the 80s. The decades we cover are the 1920s to the 1980s. So the youngest gowns in our collection will be from 1989. A mere 32 years young!


Q. One of the challenges with vintage is that the choice is limited. Unless you get lucky, you’ll have to browse through quite a few dresses to find one that you like, suits you and is your size. How big is the stock available?


At any given time, we have around 50 unique vintage wedding gowns and we work hard to surface these dresses from around the country via our consignment programme. It's always good to know your measurements when shopping for vintage, as most gowns were bespoke made to fit individuals.


Bride wearing 1930s vintage dress
Photo credit @thymelanephoto

Q. Which vintage style is easiest to find? 1950s wedding dresses seem to attract a lot of interest. Is it just because they are a lot easier to come by, compared to 1920s wedding dresses, for example?


1950s gowns are quite popular, but I'd say there is plenty of stock from the 60s and 70s around at the moment - especially from the 70s as people are realising how fabulously boho it can be and are buying it up in large numbers.

As we go back towards the beginning of the 1900s, finding good pieces gets more difficult. I've had two amazing early 1920s gowns in my collection recently (now sold). Finding a 1920s gown in great condition is something of a challenge but when you do, it's an amazing feeling.


Q. What are the most common fabrics in vintage dresses? Should we expect to see a lot of lace in a vintage wedding dress collection?


It's pretty diverse, lace, brocade, satin, cotton, parachute silk and raw silk . Then the manmade fibres kick in massively with the 60s, 70s & 80s stock.


Q. What if a bride already has a vintage dress, an heirloom perhaps, but it’s not quite right to wear? Perhaps some part of it needs repairing or replacing. Would you be able to rescue a dress like that?


Anything is possible with the right seamstress or tailor. I can recommend such talent to brides if this is something they want to take on and see through. I've seen some amazing transformations and have recently been in touch with an American client who bought a 1940s dress because she loved the skirt - she has worked with a seamstress to transform it into part of an iconic 'movie costume' much loved by many of us. I can't say any more but will be sharing the photos of the big day when it happens later in the year.


If you are looking for vintage inspiration, there are plenty of ideas on Siobhan’s blog, www.cambridgevintagebridal.co.uk/blog

And don't forget that, at Crown Hall Farm, you can have a themed wedding to match your favourite vintage dress. You only need to ask one of our friendly team.

Photo credit @thymelanephoto

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