How to style a vintage bridal look? Vintage is one of the most popular wedding styles. In this article, we look at how you can combine beautiful accessories from bygone eras to complement your bridal look.
What does vintage mean?
The term “vintage” usually describes a historic style or time period that has come into fashion again. For example, the Roaring Twenties with its distinctive flapper look is popular at weddings and parties, as is 1950s pin up glamour.
Always start with the dress
If you’re going to style any bridal look, choose the dress before you pick the accessories to go with it. This particularly important with vintage styles as they can vary greatly. Let the dress material, colour, neckline and details guide you to your overall look.
Stick to a specific design era
If you want a very defined vintage look, you’ll need to focus on one design period. Start with vintage fashion books or bridal websites to find out which style you’re most drawn to.
Watch our slideshow for inspiration:
Vintage eras – a quick style reference guide:
- Rococo/Late Baroque: Outragous hoop skirts, big hair, “more is more”
- Victorian: Corsets, pearls and feminine up-do’s
- Edwardian: Modest high-neck dresses, bustles and lace
- 1920’s: The flapper look, Great Gatsby, Downton Abbey
- 1930’s: Finger curled hair, nipped waist, silk column dresses
- 1940’s: Feminine wartime silhouettes, gloves, puffed shoulders
- 1950’s: Shin length pencil dresses, pink Cadillacs, Marilyn Monroe
- 1960’s: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- 1970’s: Flower power, hippies, maxi dresses, empire waistlines
- 1980’s: Big hair, colourful accessories, geometric shapes
Don’t mix styles
Don’t mix vintage eras. Retro 50’s hair won’t look right with a long 70’s hippy dress. You can make small allowances, combining periods close in time and style. For example, a Victorian corset dress would work with Edwardian antique earrings.
If you want just a touch of vintage..
If you don’t want to create a specific vintage look, adding just a touch of old fashioned charm can make your wedding day style stand out. There are two materials that achieve this for you easily.
- Lace gives an instant antique feel to almost any dress shape, headpiece or bouquet decoration.
- Pearls are the ultimate vintage accessory, whether sewn on to your dress or worn as jewellery.
Certain jewellery styles were more prominent during different eras. For instance, 18th century jewellery was most often made with yellow gold and colourful gems. On the other hand, the Art Deco era featured lavish diamond designs. Read our Guide to Vintage Jewellery Styles to find your ideal look.
Where to shop for genuine vintage items
If you love shopping, you’ll have a ball searching for antique accessories. Vintage clothing shops, antique markets, Etsy and Ebay are great places to look. Or you may already own a dear old jewellery piece or vintage purse inherited from your grandmother.
Imitation pieces work just as well
Sometimes the idea of vintage is not the same as the reality. A genuine antique item may not look as good as you imagined. Or it can be hard to find genuine vintage items that aren’t damaged or yellowed.
If that’s your experience, go for items that are “vintage inspired”. There are plenty of bridal retailers and fashion stores that offer contemporary items designed in vintage styles.
Tips on how to nail the style for different eras…
1. Style tips for the 19th Century:
For an opulent 19th century look go for eye-catching accessories: an extravagant diamond necklace or a cathedral veil. But be careful not to add too many big items all at once. Especially if your dress already has lots of ruffles or sparkle. Otherwise it may all look “too much”.
2. Style tips for the 1920s:
Brides going for The Roaring Twenties (Great Gatsby/Downton Abbey) era can choose a flapper-style dress. A forehead band really evokes the style of this era. Feathers, sequins or a clutch bag with pearl detail would also go well with this style.
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3. Style tips for the 1940s and 50s:
Are you wearing a short or below-the-knee 1940’s to 1950’s prom-style dress? A small hat with a “birdcage veil” (with netting that only covers the face) and red lipstick will add quirkiness and glamour.
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4. Style tips for the 1970s:
A 1970’s bride wearing a long boho dress will want an alice band or wreath made with real flowers. Jewellery should show ethnic or hippy influences, like Hamsas, florals, and hearts.
5. Style tips for the 1980s:
There is one iconic dress and style for 80s weddings, and that is Princess Diana. Puffy-shouldered dress, ribbon and lace details, a long veil and smouldering eyes will nail this look for you.
A final bit of advice…
Whatever you choose, do respect your personal style. Your wedding is not the time to choose accessories that you’re not 100% comfortable wearing. The key is to go with your heart and consider how the each piece makes you feel. If you feel excited and can’t wait to wear them on your wedding day, you can’t go wrong!