Shopping for a True Vintage Wedding Dress Tips

By Miss MonMon

Deciding on a wedding dress is one of the biggest decisions with any wedding. There are so many places to go, styles to choose from and Spanx to squeeze into; it can be very overwhelming but even more so if you have your heart set on a true vintage dress like I did. When I got engaged back in 2018, I knew I wanted to find the perfect vintage wedding dress. It wasn’t an easy task but I thought I’d take some of the stress away and share my top tips for shopping for the perfect vintage wedding dress. 

Have an idea of what you want
To the internet dear friend! Before you go shopping for your vintage dress, have an idea of what you want your dress to look like. Choose a decade or style and decide on things such as length, sleeves and details (lace, embroidery, buttons etc). Keep in mind that vintage means one-off dresses and your dream dress may end up being something you don’t expect to fall in love with.

Make sure vintage is something you really want
A vintage dress is a great way to add “something old” to your wedding day but it’s not something to do if you’re not a vintage enthusiast. It’s important to keep in mind style trends and fashions from certain decades and eras; if you’re not a fan of such styles then a vintage dress may not be for you. 

Ask for alteration advice
If you do need to alter a dress, ask the store owner if they have any seamstresses that they recommend. It’s common for vintage stores that specialise in clothing to have a seamstress they trust and recommend. If you are stuck on finding a seamstress on your own, make sure you discuss with them how comfortable they are working with vintage. Look up recommendations, ask people in the vintage community and only leave your dress with someone if they are confident. 

Carefully inspect the Garment
If you find a dress you love, take your time and comb over the dress and inspect the lining, the bottom of the skirt, the condition of the fabric and the fastenings (zip or buttons). Look for any imperfections in the dress and see if the garment needs any mending. Vintage is old (duh) and one-of-a-kind, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect so ensure you know the complete condition of the dress before you buy it. Pay extra attention to stains especially on the bottom of the skirt and under the arms. The dress may need a clean after purchase. 

Make sure it fits well
Some vintage can be altered to be made smaller and if you’re lucky, can be made a touch bigger. If a dress you love really doesn’t fit well, maybe it’s not the best choice. Also, make sure you can sit comfortably in your dress as you will need to make sure it’s comfortable. 

Listen to the store assistant
If you’re in a vintage dress store and especially one that has a selection of bridal gowns, please listen to the store owners when it comes to garment care especially when trying dresses on. It’s very likely that they will need to assist you in getting in and out of the dresses so please let them do their job for the sake of the dress. If a store assistant says the dress will not fit, please don’t force the dress as you risk damaging it and even ruining it. When you arrive for your appointment, please be kind and respectful towards the garments as well. Do not wear fake tan or a lot of makeup as you can damage the dress. Make sure you are clean and don’t rush the process. Also, please don’t make rude comments about the garments; if something isn’t your style, you don’t need to comment on it as another shopper may be put off their dream dress.

Don’t hesitate too long
If you are in love with a dress and happy with it, do not delay and just buy it! Vintage gowns do not often have duplicates meaning that if someone snags it before you, it’s gone and not coming back. Yes, this happened to me and I am still kicking myself for missing that gorgeous dress. 

Bring spare undergarments
Vintage gowns can be really sturdy meaning that some bodices will require a certain type of bra or no bra at all. I’d recommend bringing a strapless bra with you and perhaps your favourite bra as well but it all depends on the dress you find. Besides bras, perhaps bring some Spanx or scary stomach holding in underpants so you feel smooth and not lumpy and only in extreme cases, bring a corset. 

Teach your bridesmaids about your dress
It’s highly likely that you will have someone with you when you shop for your dress; I’d recommend you bring a bridesmaid with you as they can learn about the intricacies of the dress itself. Vintage can have a very unique construction with inner waistbands, cummerbunds, side zips and special buttons. By learning about your dress with a bridesmaid, come the wedding day, you will know exactly how to put the dress on and there will be no surprises on the day.

I hope these tips help you find the perfect dress. I wish you a dreamy shopping experience. 

Words by Miss MonMon