How to style a vintage bridal look? Vintage is one of the most popular wedding themes. In this article, we look at how you can combine beautiful accessories from bygone eras to complement your bridal style.
What does vintage mean?
The term “vintage” describes a historic style period that has come into fashion again. For example, the Roaring Twenties with its distinctive flapper look is a popular vintage style for weddings. The pin-up glamour look of 1950s Hollywood is another one.
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 is particularly important when it comes to vintage styles as they can vary greatly. Let the dress material, colour, neckline and details guide you to your overall look.
Stick to a one era
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. Swipe through our slideshow for more inspiration:
Antique accessories Vs. Modern vintage style pieces
If you love antique shopping, you’ll have a ball searching for retro accessories. Vintage clothing shops, antique markets and second-hand websites are great places to look. Alternatively, you may already own an heirloom jewellery piece or a retro purse that you love.
However, 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 the case, you should go for pieces that are “vintage inspired” instead. There are many retailers that offer contemporary items designed in vintage styles. These can be much easier to buy, wear and combine with your dress and the rest of your accessories.
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 can help you achieve this 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.
There are very defined jewellery styles that were prominent during the different vintage eras. For instance, 18th-century jewellery was most often made with yellow gold and colourful gems. On the other hand, Art Deco jewellery featured lavish, geometric diamonds. While Byzantine jewellery is furnished with elaborate gold relief work. To learn more, read our Guide to 7 Best Vintage Jewellery Styles.
Top 5 Vintage eras and how to style them
As we mentioned, each vintage period has a very distinct style. For a quick guide, take a look at our list below. With 5 key styles from different eras, we explain the overall look that you should go for. Starting from the 18th Century all the way to the 80s.
1. Style a 19th Century look
For an opulent 19th century look, go for eye-catching accessories. For example, 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 a 1920s look
Brides going for The Roaring Twenties look usually think of a style like Great Gatsby or Downton Abbey. A flapper-style dress and a forehead band really evoke the style of this era. Feathers, sequins and a clutch bag with pearl detail would also go well with this style.
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3. Style a 1940s to 50s look:
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 a 1970s look:
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 a 1980s look:
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.
Vintage eras: a quick reference guide
- Rococo/Late Baroque: Outrageous hoop skirts, big hair, “more is more”
- Victorian: Corsets, pearls and feminine up-do’s
- Edwardian: Modest high-neck dresses, bustles and lace
- 1920s: The flapper look, Great Gatsby, Downton Abbey
- 1930s: Finger curled hair, nipped waist, silk column dresses
- 1940s: Feminine wartime silhouettes, gloves, puffed shoulders
- 1950s: Shin-length pencil dresses, pink Cadillacs, Marilyn Monroe
- 1960s: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
- 1970s: Flower power, hippies, maxi dresses, empire waistlines
- 1980s: Big hair, colourful accessories, geometric shapes
Final tips: How to create a vintage bridal style
Whatever you choose, always respect your personal style. Your wedding is not the time to choose accessories that you’re not 100% comfortable with. Be it shoes, a necklace or a veil, the key is to go with your heart and consider how each piece makes you feel. If you feel excited and can’t wait to wear it on your wedding day, then you can’t go wrong!
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