Betty Grable-esque Amanda Porter is a bona-fide vintage fanatic. Her primary flights of fancy include cutting a rug and relentlessly collecting 1930s and 40s fashions. This journalist also masquerades as your friendly local bridal consultant. She married her "earnest 40s man" last fall and ever since has been trying to convince modern day brides that borrowing from the past is far better than living in the present.
Visit also her Pin Up website: www.jitterbugdoll.com !!
Dressing the Bride - part 1 of a series
"I have always been fascinated with the decadence of the time—it's an idealized era that has always appealed to and captivated my imagination," Kline said. "One thing I noticed myself doing, in planning the wedding, was that I wanted to get back to the traditional, classic atmosphere that seemed to be missing from many of the weddings I'd attended. They seemed to lack real heart."
Ann Bonnette, owner of AC Bridal Boutique (http://www.acbridal.com/), feels the desire for an old-fashioned look has been steadily returning for quite a while. She is finding that more and more modern brides are asking for vintage influenced styles, and are starting to buck bridal industry trends in favor of more unique and personal looks.
"With the recent revival of swing over the past few years, brides
seem to be more attracted to the glamorous styles of the past," she noted.
"The days of cookie cutter dresses seem to be coming to an end."
Regardless of the look you seek, it is not as difficult to achieve as one might think. A true vintage lover will wisely make the Internet her first stop, both in search of authentic pieces and to learn the nuances of history. Aside from www.ebay.com (the proverbial vintage lover's paradise), notable websites include www.isadoras.com, www.vintagewedding.com, and www.vintagegown.com. Expect to pay as little as $50 to $500 or more for a gown, depending on its age, condition and how many other brides are interested in it!
Other notable resources include two recent books dedicated to educating the vintage bride to be. Your Vintage Wedding by Nancy Eaton and A Vintage Wedding by Daniela Turudich are both thorough guides covering weddings from 1910-1950. Eaton is keen to pass on a great deal of historical knowledge, and Turudich presents a nice, abbreviated guide to planning your wedding. Both show you how to incorporate just the right amount of vintage to suit your tastes.
In terms of condition, it is important to remember that a wedding
gown has been worn at least once, and the stresses of being a bride do
have an effect! Unless the gown is designated as dead stock (or new old
stock) assume that unseen evils such as perspiration or spilled champagne
may have set in the gown for 50 years or more, weakening the fabric with
each passing year. Some visible stains, namely perspiration and rust, are
generally permanent and may affect practical wearability depending on their
Rhiannon Macbeth, a 2003 bride who enjoys wearing vintage clothing for special occasions, searched for quite a while before finding her 1920s silk wedding gown. She cautions brides on the difficulties of wearing vintage, and notes that it takes an experienced person to understand the delicate issues of vintage fabric.
"I found my dress in Palo Alto, CA at an all vintage wedding store," she remarked. "It fit like a glove with near to no alterations needed. The silk fabric was very strong and durable—it felt like butter!"
If vintage doesn't pan out, the next logical step is to consider
having a dress made by an experienced seamstress. Maybe you would like
to restore or recreate Grandmother's dress, or another gown you have found
that is not wearable in its current state. Or perhaps you have found a
wonderful dress pattern that would make a positively stunning bridal gown
(consider such unlikely examples as day dress patterns and nightgown patterns,
which can cross the line into appropriate wedding wear with the right fabric
and length adjustments.) That's where a dressmaker can happily step in,
using bits and pieces from an original gown or recreating it entirely with
new materials. Appealing sites include www.revampvintage.com,
Bear in mind though, that the reputable seamstress, quality material and labor involved in sewing a custom wedding gown may cost you upwards of $800-$1000 or more. Ackerman estimates that it can cost anywhere from $350-$1200 to make an heirloom gown wearable for another generation, but stresses that this is money well spent.
"Many brides tell me that the cost to remake a vintage dress usually works out to be less than they would have spent on a modern dress they wouldn't have liked as well!"
As vintage clothing often runs very small, and custom designs may sometimes be cost prohibitive, it can make perfect sense to delve into the world of modern bridal wear. Many designers have sensed a return to the past and have turned out some rather lovely numbers that invoke the 1920s, 30s, 40s and so on. Moderately priced manufacturers of retro interest include Alfred Angelo, St. Patrick, Watters and Watters, Eden Bridals, Maggie Sottero and Jessica McClintock. The bride with a more generous budget might do well to examine the lines of Amy Michelson, Marisa and Bagdley Mishcka, all noted for their siren-esque appeal.
"I've noticed that jewelry stores are carrying more vintage style rings as well," Bonnette remarked. "I think brides are looking at their grandparents' pictures and are becoming inspired by sentimentality. The elegance and romance of bygone eras is so appealing nowadays."
Kline herself realized that she was very drawn to the lacy, beaded styles reminiscent of flapper dresses. Armed with a photo of a couture gown, she walked into a local shop and found a dress that fit her bill.
"[But] if I had to do it all over again, it would be a wedding dress in full-blown era style!" Kline laughed. "I would either get it custom made or find an authentic dress. By the time I got well underway with the planning, it was too late for me to find another dress—it's more difficult to find true era items because in Memphis there aren't many shops like you would find in California & New York."
The Look: 1920s Flapper
The Look: 1930s Sophisticate
The Look: 1940s Glamour
Don't forget to accessorize you gown with period elements as well. The right veil, headpiece, stockings and jewelry will complete your trip back in time, and help you start you new life together in style.
Best wishes from your friends in Port Halcyon!
Photos Courtesy of Cherished Bride
Reprinted with permission
Copyright © 2004 Port Halcyon, Inc. www.PortHalcyon.com