If you’re planning a vintage-chic wedding, you will not find vintage dresses amongst the racks at your everyday bridal shop. Nevermind that. Finding your dress will be another part of your unique adventure. If I were heading down the aisle, this is where the search would start:
Online. Though finding the dress you want also in the size you want may be challenging, these online shops have some glorious gowns that would put today’s off-the-rack dresses to shame! Take meticulous measurements and make sure you allow for breathing and eating room! Two of my favorites are:
• Dorothea’s Closet. This website allows you to peruse dresses by decade! Starting with pre-1920s and going up decade by decade through the 1980s, if you are targeting the style of a specific era, this will help save you some time! There is also a specific bridal category, and the decade represented is still noted.• Couture Allure. This online retailer was founded in 2001 and sells hand-picked vintage clothing. It is owned and operated by a mother and daughter with a passion for vintage clothing, accessories and textiles. Every piece they feature is impeccable!
If you can’t pour your curves into the treasures offered in these shops, or if you want a vintage look but insist on being the first person to wear your dress, custom work is the way to go! Check out:
• Whirling Turban. Focusing on bombshell-style dresses and pinup couture, this site offers custom-made and ready-made dresses. Pick your fabric and dress style, and voila! Your pristine vintage-inspired dream dress is on its way.
If you are a purist determined to stick with authentic vintage for your special day, but cannot find the right dress or right size in your favorite online vintage store, the other online option—though you may have to wade through hundreds of listings—are the galleries on Etsy or eBay. You can find exactly what you want by being thorough in your search, specifying criteria that meet your needs. For example, by measurement (“39” bust”) or detailing you want (“vintage white sequins”). These are the two best places to conduct that kind of search:
• Etsy. Founded in June 2005, this website sells handmade and vintage products exclusively. The Etsy community is comprised of buyers and sellers from more than 150 countries. Here, you are able to search thousands of wedding dresses and accessories, both handmade and vintage. I love the bouquets made of vintage brooches!
• eBay. With more than 9,000 search results for “vintage wedding,” there is bound to be something you’ll fall in love with for your vintage-clad wedding. Grab your maid of honor and a cocktail and wade through the pages of dresses, saving the top contenders to your ‘watch’ page. You can even email the link to other friends if you need a group vote.
You don’t trust online shopping? No problem, these Indiana boutiques are usually stocked with racks of fancy vintage dresses:
• Harloh’s. This Fletcher Place shop just southeast of downtown Indianapolis features tons of vintage clothing and accessories. They stock clothing from the 1920s to the ‘80s. You might even get your man in on the act, since they carry men’s vintage as well.
• Cactus Flower. Located in Bloomington, Ind., Cactus Flower sells real vintage and vintage-styled clothing and accessories. Just check out this bride who found her ‘60s-style gown in the shop. You could be next!
• Material Plane. This shop – also located in Bloomington, Ind. – sells vintage clothing and accessories. Equal parts digging and cleaning to be expected, but some real hidden gems to be uncovered!
My all-time favorite vintage clothing store ever isn’t in Indianapolis, but it’s a quick road trip. Day trip it with the girls and head on down to Louisville, Ky.
• Elizabeth’s Timeless Attire. Elizabeth’s is a Louisville institution at this point. Her selection of vintage apparel is primarily ‘20s through early ‘60s dresses, suits and accessories. Refined and impeccable are what you will find in this petite shop. Much of my wardrobe has been purchased here – especially the dresses that get me stopped on the street with inquiries as to where I got them. Louisville, Elizabeth and this store: I love them all. Ever wonder where places like J. Peterman find templates for retro-inspired clothes? Elizabeth’s is one of those places!
You want to stand out on your most important day? There is no better way to do that than by wearing a beautifully crafted vintage dress. (Photos courtesy of Dorothea’s Closet; Top: Early 1950’s Wedding Dress; Bottom: Early 1950’s Veil)