Vintage wedding dresses just have a certain kind of magical, nostalgic beauty that cannot easily be recreated in a modern version. One of the main attractions is that, while classically stylish, vintage dresses are usually quite different to the range of styles that hang on the present-day wedding gown designer’s rails. They exude an antique style of yesteryear. Often times a vintage dress may be an heirloom within your family that is worn as is, or slightly tailored to fit you and suit your personal style.
The following guidelines will assist you in buying the perfect vintage dress and avoiding some commonly made mistakes:
Steer Clear of Stains and Tears
Do not buy a dress that is stained or torn with the idea that you can fix it. You do not know what left the stain and, even if it is something that is usually quite easy to remove, it is unlikely to be as cooperative after years of neglect. Then there is the problem of what to use to remove the mark. Most modern detergents and stain removers will cause the fabric to disintegrate. In the case of a tear or hole, sewing the fabric will likely cause it to rip as it will be fragile, a weak spot. A patch will not work either as it will be almost impossible to match the fabrics exactly. If you absolutely have to have the dress and it is torn or stained, consult with a very experienced, well-renowned seamstress and allow her to repair the fault herself.
Avoid the Oldest Dress in the Selection
The older a fabric gets, the more fragile and delicate it becomes. With age, it is more likely to tear and disintegrate when you apply any pressure (by pulling it over your head, for example). If you have a vintage dress that is an heirloom, store it carefully, away from moisture and moths. Generally, try to steer clear of anything that is over 100 years old. Also remember that the style of dress worn between 1900 and 1930 was particularly lacy, silky and delicate, so these dresses may not have weathered the years as well as more robust styles and fabrics of later eras.
Choose the Size Carefully
The way that clothing is sized has changed dramatically over the years. A size 14 has not always been a 14, so it is imperative that you be measured and fit the dress on. Take into consideration that you will likely have a petticoat or hoop under the dress and factor that into the sizing. In addition, the women of yesteryear were usually a completely different shape to us. They were generally narrower, shorter and more petite. It was also the norm for them to wear a corset under their clothing, which aided in shaping and trimming them.
Check for Weak Spots
Examine the dress closely to ascertain if all of the ‘weak spots’ are still intact. These include seams, fastenings, the stitching that joins the skirt to the bodice and the area under the arms.
Have a Budget
Authentic vintage dresses are worth a lot. Still, it does not help if you cannot afford it. Exercise self-control and discipline.
Consider a Modern Replica
If your heart is set on a vintage style, but you are unable to find a good quality dress in your area, consider having one made up according to your style, size and taste. Communicate clearly so that your dress-maker knows what you are looking for. Take time to find old-fashioned laces and silks and to collect wedding photographs of vintage dresses so that your seamstress has a clear idea of your desires.
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