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How to Choose A Vintage Wedding Dress (and Should You)

Girl wearing vintage wedding dress

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Vintage has been trending for several years now, as young couples turn to inspiration from yesteryear. From vintage engagement and wedding rings to vintage wedding themes, opting for a design from the past is a way to add a fun and different vibe to your wedding. This is partly why some brides choose a vintage wedding dress.

In this article, we are going to take a closer look at vintage dresses in different ers and understand why modern brides choose vintage dresses for their big days. 

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The Different Wedding Dress Eras

The 1900s – Edwardian

Edwardian wedding dress

Edwardian inspired wedding dress by Heritage Dressmakers. Check Price Here.

Not all brides wore a white dress during the weddings in the early 1900s as the trend set by Queen Victoria had not yet been popularized. Brides chose colors like pink, mauve, and azure. The silhouette of choice during this era was a waist with an S shape corset and a gigot sleeve that is wide and puffy yet tapered to the wrist. The choice of fabric was commonly silk. 

The 1910s – Changing Times

1910 wedding dress

1910 Edwardian lace dress by Coco and Orange. Check Price Here.

1910 was a decade when more and more people began incorporating dance during their wedding festivities. This why the dresses that brides chose during this era had more flow which allowed them to move and dance. This was also the period were more brides were attracted to laces and silks. 

The 1920s – The Roaring 20s

Flapper wedding dress

Flapper wedding dress by Flapper Dresses. Check Price Here.

As the jazz era began in the 1920s, brides dropped their waistlines and necklines. They also started incorporating beads and embroidery work in their dresses. Aside from that, this is also an era where big bouquets and headdresses flourished. Most wedding dresses became more beautiful and elaborate.

The 1930s – The War Years

1930s wedding dress

1930s wedding dress by Sweet Disorder Vintage. Check Price Here.

During the war years, wedding dress choices became more practical and even more so as the great depression began. Rather than long, full-bodied wedding dresses, brides often opted for calf-length dresses made from rayon due to its affordability. Their gowns were not the traditional poofy ones, yet they were still beautiful in their own rights. 

The 1940s – Post War

Many 1940s brides embraced the calf-length dresses from the 1930s. They also let go of sleeves and preferred even deeper necklines. This was also the time where some bride wore hats instead of the traditional veil headdresses. 

The 1950s – Times of Change

1950s vintage wedding dress

1950s Wedding Dress by Mountain Mama Shop. Check Price Here.

The 1950s was the era were wedding dresses became even shorter. More brides opted for this kind of length so that they could showcase their footwear. The sweetheart neckline also became a thing because of Elizabeth Taylor, who popularized the style.

There were also plenty of brides who opted for a two-piece wedding dress composed of the dress itself and a bolero. This was because they wanted to be covered during the wedding ceremony and show a little more skin during the reception. This idea is excellent if you want your wedding dress to look versatile.

The 1960s – The Age of Space

1960s wedding dress

1960s Wedding Gown by The Vintage Bride Aus. Check Price Here.

During this time, empire waisted wedding dresses became popular, as the silhouette also beautifully showcased a woman’s natural waistline. There was also a rise in the trend of using metallic embellishments on wedding dresses. This was a result highly associated with the beginning of the space age era. 

The 1970s – The Eclectic Era

1970s wedding dress

1970s Wedding Dress by Kagami Vintage. Check Price Here.

You can say that the wedding dress trend during this era was very diverse. Many brides went for fairy tale dresses that had ball gown silhouettes while some reverted to the silhouettes from the 1930s and 1940s. However, there were also a few brides who ditched the white wedding dress entirely as they wore jumpsuits for their wedding day. 

The 1980s – The Big and Bold Era

1980s wedding dress

1980s Wedding Dress by Evas Love for Vintage. Check Price Here.

The wedding of Princess Diana set the tone for the wedding dress trends of this era. As she wore a white fairytale dress with long puffy sleeves, cinched waist, and lace trims on the risk, more and more brides followed suit. The wedding dresses during this time were also mostly accessorized with a long train and lace-trimmed veils. 

The 1990s – The Modern Age

1990s wedding dress

1990s Wedding Dress by Ralphs Closet. Check Price Here.

Compared to the previous decade, the 1990s were all about “Less is more” when it came to choosing a wedding dress. Brides preferred minimalist dresses that showed their curves in a delicate and classy way. 

Why Choose a Vintage Wedding Dress? 

When we talk about a vintage wedding dress, it does not necessarily have to be an old, used dress. Most brides opt for a vintage-inspired dress, which gives you a new dress with vintage elements. An added advantage of a custom vintage wedding dress is that you can add the features that you like, choose the fabric and make it fit perfectly.

However, having a second-hand vintage dress also has its advantages. Used vintage dresses are generally more affordable than having a new dress made from scratch. This affordability would allow you and your partner to splurge more on other aspects of your wedding day.

This is also something that could be meaningful and sentimental for the bride as some dresses can be a hand-me-down from their mothers or grandmothers, which adds to the  character of the dress. If you are worried about the fit of the dress and if it may look too outdated, you could have it altered to your preference and size. This way, your personality can also be incorporated at a much lesser price than having a new one made. Also, used dresses are sustainable, something that many brides consider when planning their weddings these days.

How to Choose a Vintage Wedding Gown? 

Here are several ways on how to choose a vintage wedding gown if you are going to have one custom made:

Pick a Decade

Vintage wedding gowns come in different shapes and styles. This why having an exact decade of inspiration is essential. This will help you narrow down your choices when it comes to silhouette, embellishments, and accessories. 

Select a Silhouette

If choosing one decade is not possible for you and there are a lot of inspirations you want to incorporate in your dress, you can start by picking a silhouette. Choose one that will best compliment your body type. From there on, you can combine many vintage details that you want. For example, the shape of the sleeve, trims, and embellishments. This will also make your dress look more personalized. 

Choose a Fabric

Your choice of wedding dress fabric will set a tone on the vibe that you are going for. You can quickly achieve the vintage vibe by using fabrics such as lace, silk, and chiffon. You could even go for rayon as it is more affordable, and it was also a widely chosen fabric from many brides in the past. 

The Difference Between Vintage and Antique

Many may wonder what the difference between a vintage dress and an antique dress is. The answer is pretty simple. Vintage dresses are dresses that are only a few decades old, while antique dresses are those that are at least 100 years old.

If you talk about your mother’s wedding dress from the 70s or 80s, then those are vintage dresses while your great-grandmother’s dress from the 1910s or 1920s can now be considered an antique dress. 

Different type of Vintage Fabrics

You can quickly achieve the vintage vibe by choosing the right kind of fabrics. Here are some of the most popular options. 


If you opt for a Princess Diana type of dress, taffeta is best for you. This is the best choice for ball gowns as it is voluminous and ideal for multiple layering. It also does not sag and fray easily.


Lace is either made of yarn or thread that have multiple intricate patterns. Some of the patterns of laces are floral and web-like. It is usually used as trimmings or sleeves in vintage wedding dresses. However, this type of fabric can be very delicate and snags easily. 


Rayon was the choice of textile for wedding dress during the great depression because it was affordable. Rayon is a fabric typically from a blend of wood pulp and cotton. Nowadays, it is commonly used in sportswear because it is relaxed and comfortable to the skin. If your choice of silhouette does not require a lot of volumes, then they rayon fabric may just be for you. 


Silk was a staple choice for brides from the early and late 19th century. It is a costly textile, which is why many brides choose to celebrate their special day wearing a luxurious fabric. Often, it is challenging to construct a dress made from 100% silk as it is very flowy. However, this would suit a bride who wants to look minimalist or boho.  

Common Vintage Dress Elements


Bead embellishment became prominent during the beginning of the 1920s. Many more brides preferred their dress to have more details around them. The beading process is commonly done by hand, and it requires a certain level of expertise to be achieved. Today, having a beaded wedding gown would cost a significant amount of money on top of the dress itself. 


Embroidery is the process of creating a design or pattern using threads and needles in a plain fabric. The popularity of this element was boosted in the 1920s, together with beading. 

Lace Trimmings

During the 1940s until the 1980s, many brides adorned lace trimmings in their sleeves, necklines, and hemlines. This is because lace adds extra detail to their dresses. It is more practical than having beadwork or embroidery done as the trimmings only needs to be attached to the edge of the dress. It is beautiful yet functional as well. 

Wrapping This Up….

There’s something nostalgic and sentimental about wedding dresses from the past, be it vintage or vintage inspired. This could be your something old as well for your wedding dress. We recommend starting your search on Etsy, which has a wide range of vintage wedding dresses from all eras.