Style Me Vintage: Weddings: An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Weddingby Annabel Beeforth
Harking back to the classic styles of previous decades is often the foundation of a truly original, elegant, and stylish wedding, but it can be difficult to get all of the vintage details right without a little bit of guidance. This beautiful and accessible book looks at how to source and put together vintage bridal outfits and event styling. Packed with gorgeous
Harking back to the classic styles of previous decades is often the foundation of a truly original, elegant, and stylish wedding, but it can be difficult to get all of the vintage details right without a little bit of guidance. This beautiful and accessible book looks at how to source and put together vintage bridal outfits and event styling. Packed with gorgeous ideas and practical advice—from finding a dress to putting together accessories, flowers, makeup, hair, and even extra details such as the venue, cake, stationery, photography, and entertainment—this guide makes sure all aspects of your perfect day are covered, with style.
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Style Me Vintage Weddings
An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Wedding
By Annabel Beeforth
Chicago Review Press IncorporatedCopyright © 2013 Annabel Beeforth
All rights reserved.
(the early 1900s)
It was important to me to feature a small chapter on the Edwardian era — it's a fascinating period of wedding history that is often over-looked in bridal fashion, although the hit period drama TV series Downton Abbey has done much to draw attention to the fabulous fashions of these times.
It is still possible to find exquisite, original Edwardian wedding gowns that are in good enough condition to wear today. I would strongly recommend you consult a specialist vintage wedding dress supplier, although it is possible to obtain bargains via sites like Etsy and eBay. Original Edwardian wedding gowns were constructed before the introduction of man-made fibres and, of course, with most now over one hundred years old, they are more fragile than other vintage wedding dresses, and more scarce. You may prefer to have a replica gown made. Do your research, gather images online, select your favorite elements from each dress (the neckline, the embroidered detail, the sleeve, etc.) and take them to a dressmaker to talk through your ideas.
Dress style best suited to:
those who enjoy a more demure, elegantly modest look.
Key bridal looks of the period:
An all-concealed look; high neckline, three-quarter to full-length 'leg o' mutton' sleeves
High waistline — the 'empire line'
Cummerbunds and sashes — popular in the mid-late Edwardian period
Tiered lace and light, floaty chiffon
Hair done up high and large decorated hats/headpieces with long veils
Pearl or beaded bridal collars
Headpieces made from wax orange blossom flowers
Gold and pastel colour schemes
The Edwardian period was an age of industrialization and innovation, and a time when women's roles in society were changing radically in response to historical turning points such as World War I and the suffragette movement. Bridal fashions were influenced heavily by the wedding of Queen Victoria in the previous century, who chose to marry her cousin Albert of Saxe-Coburg in a white wedding dress, with orange blossom (symbolising purity) and myrtle (symbolising love and domestic happiness) in her hair. Common belief would have it that, prior to this, brides only wore dresses in their favourite colour, but that's not entirely true; many brides could not afford to buy a dress just for their wedding day and so wore their best (usually coloured) dresses instead. White was worn prior to this, often signifying family wealth, but became the colour of choice for most brides after Queen Victoria wore it for her wedding in 1840. The wedding was publicised widely and inspired new generations of brides to copy her style.
The style of the Edwardian wedding dress was purposefully all-concealing — it was considered bad form to expose any flesh, even the neck and arms, so full-length sleeves were common, or three-quarter-length sleeves worn with long gloves. The neckline was often concealed entirely by a 'wedding collar' — a wide band of pearls, or jewelled piece of fabric — and a modesty panel of fabric would conceal the area between the bustline and the neck. Dresses featured an abundance of embroidered lace, delicate silk, chiffons and embellishment. Long veils, which were thought to keep evil at bay, would sit atop hair that had been styled high on top of the head. The silhouette during the earlier part of the era was defined by corsetry. The 'S-shape' corset was designed to thrust forward a woman's best assets, and pull her tummy area inward, creating an almost faux -bustle look from behind — the voluptuous cleavage shape created by the corsetry would be on show in the evening, never in the day.
The modest aesthetic became more relaxed as the 1920s approached. Hemlines rose throughout the period, and by the end of World War I the 'new woman' had arrived, ready to take on the excitement and fabulously fun flapper-girl style of the Roaring Twenties.
TAMSIN & ALEX'S WEDDING
SEPTEMBER 18, 2010
Dress Original vintage Edwardian wedding dress.
Accessories Vintage 1920s veil and hair accessory; the original 1950s bracelet was my grandma's; my 1930s engagement ring was Alex's grandma's.
Shoes Department store.
What inspired you to wear a beautiful original Edwardian wedding dress? It just fitted what I was looking for — it ticked every box. I loved the detail of the tactile fabric — every other lace dress I tried felt so sterile and manufactured in comparison. I also liked the conservative silhouette. I knew I wanted sleeves, as a strapless dress wouldn't have felt right at the altar. Although I don't wear a lot of vintage clothes, I have always loved the historic reference of a beautiful piece of clothing or jewellery. I am also fascinated by the way vintage or antique items can suddenly become timeless.
What do you love most about the dress? The fabric — it felt both striking and romantic.
Wedding décor and details The wedding wasn't supposed to be vintage style per se, but we did enjoy making contextual references to the seaside town where we married. We sent hand-written vintage Torquay postcards as invitations and I made the menus out of the same imagery. The wedding was made up of all our favorite things and I enjoyed mixing the old with the new (for example the bridesmaids wore short shift dresses). It was a complete coincidence, but my Mum also wore an Edwardian dress and was married in the same church!
Advice for other brides who love Edwardian style? For me, it wasn't an easy look to pull together — especially knowing what shoes to wear with this style! Although feeling like I didn't have any precedents to follow for the dress, as well as the whole wedding, was absorbing and exciting. I think it's all about feeling comfortable and confident.
JANE AND DYLAN'S WEDDING
AUGUST 20, 2011
Dress I found the dress online — it's an original Edwardian wedding dress. As soon as I saw the photos, I fell in love with it and couldn't let it go to someone else! My mother, who is an incredible seamstress, agreed it was worth restoring for me. She altered the dress to fit me, adding beautiful details along the way, such as mother of pearl fastenings. The original slip had disintegrated over time, so she made a new one. Thankfully, apart from some minor marks, the lace was in incredible condition considering the dress dates from around 1910.
Accessories I wore a faux-pearl necklace given to me by Dylan's mom, which had belonged to her grandmother. They're such a beautiful color, and helped us to choose the dusty pink slip. It was a privilege to wear them, and I continue to treasure them. As a hair accessory, I restored tiny silk pink flowers that I found in a thrift shop and attached them to hairgrips.
Shoes Second hand from eBay. They were by Diane Hassall and called 'Liliana'.
What inspired you to wear a beautiful Edwardian wedding dress? I didn't originally set out to find an Edwardian dress, but knew that I wanted vintage. I had grown up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films, and I love the 30s for its dresses. I found quite a few original dresses at vintage fairs from that era that were too small so, in the end, I widened the search to anything vintage that looked interesting. As it turned out, the dress I ended up with was more beautiful than anything else I had come across, and suited my shape far better than a 30s dress! I loved that it was over a hundred years old and was in such good condition. To think of all the women that had worn and loved it as much as I did on my wedding day was just perfect.
What do you love most about the dress? The hand embroidery on the lace is very beautiful and intricate and must have taken a long time to make. I love to think about the history behind the dress. Who made it and who wore it first?
Wedding décor and details I collected vintage tablecloths to place over straw bales, which I plan to make into a quilt as a keepsake of the day.CHAPTER 2
The 1920s heralded a time of optimism following the end of World War I. The decade saw in huge social change: women gained the vote for the first time in the United States and the United Kingdom, and Prohibition took hold in America. Socialites and aristocrats went out and had a riot. They donned elaborate fancy dress, got drunk, smoked, and partook in many a reckless activity. This young and carefree collective were labeled "The Bright Young Things" by the press and, while their lifestyles were extravagant, they came to represent the zeitgeist. Free -spirited and fun-loving, these hedonistic, raucous times became known as the Roaring Twenties. These societal changes were reflected in fashion and, ultimately, bridal fashions of the time.
The arts and culture scene flourished during the 1920s. Art Deco and Surrealism were established and the Jazz Age had arrived. Early cinema proved hugely influential too. Silent black and white movies featured the likes of Louise Brooks, Josephine Baker, and Greta Garbo, but it was Clara Bow who captured the imagination of the adoring public. Bow oozed on-screen sex appeal and her cinematic performances liberated a whole generation of young women, including brides. She was the true It girl of the time — a fabulously flirtatious flapper girl, chopping up her dresses on screen with scissors to make them sexier and more appealing to the catch she had her eye on.
World War I had resulted in the "lost generation": hundreds of young men had lost their lives in battle. Because of this, the ratio of potential male suitors to suitable brides was low and so not all women could assume they would end up marrying at all. Nevertheless, weddings in the 20s were, in keeping with the party atmosphere of the times, much more informal, celebratory events. Elopements became popular in the 1920s too, as did wedding and engagement rings that matched — platinum and white gold being the choice of most.
Dress style best suited to:
the more petite bride with a small bust and narrow, slim-hipped, athletic figure.
Key bridal looks of the period:
Informal style — shorter hemlines, mid-calf-length 'flapper' dresses
Formal style — narrow, floor-length dresses with narrow trains
Loose fit and dropped waists
The Juliet cap and long, cathedral-length veil
Ornately beaded gowns worn over slips
Huge shower bouquets
Art Deco motifs
Strings of pearls
Mary Jane shoes with a single strap or T-bar strap and low heel
Not happy with the corseted, restricted styles of the Edwardian period, Madame Coco Chanel was busy making history by redefining the female silhouette. She cast away the corset and designed clothes that focused less on the feminine form, and more on function. Chanel wanted women to feel comfortable and to allow them more freedom to move — her designs echoed the social changes of the time. She is credited with introducing the loose "sack" style and dropped-waist look that is now associated with the 1920s.
Flapper girls took to this new fashion like a cat mopping up cream. The nightclubs were soon full of performers and revellers, resplendent in beaded and tasseled frocks — strings of pearls and elaborate headpieces completing their look. The "flapper" was the good-time girl who dared to break all the rules and party like she didn't care. Eventually, this new look filtered through to bridalwear. A sleeveless flapper-style dress falling at calf length, worn over a simple slip was the choice of many. This fuss-free dress shape provided the perfect opportunity for embellishment, such as exquisite and ornate beading and Art Deco–inspired decorative features.
It is possible to source an original 20s wedding dress that can be worn today, but expect original dresses in good condition to be pretty scarce and, as a result, more expensive. As most dresses of the time were made from pure silk, they are likely to carry some damage due to natural deterioration over time.
Silk tends to 'shatter' after around 50 years, but it may be possible for damaged features to be repaired or replaced by a specialist alterations service. Specialist vintage wedding dress suppliers will be best to advise you, but do your research online too.
If you adore the styles of the 1920s but are concerned about finding a suitable original dress, consider a bespoke replica. There are a number of contemporary bridalwear designers that have used the 1920s as inspiration for their designs: Lindsay Fleming's 'All That Jazz' collection (www.lindsayfleming.com) was inspired by the Roaring Twenties and comprises eight dresses and a coat, each of which have been carefully and exquisitely fashioned on the styles of the time. My favourite dress from this collection is 'Clara' — named after the iconic silent movie star, Clara Bow. Its skirt is made from 20 metres of pure silk tulle and adorned with feathers, which float elegantly as you walk — true 20s glamour. Other designers who have looked to the 20s for design inspiration include Jenny Packham (www.jennypackham.com), The Vintage Wedding Dress Company (www.thevintageweddingdresscompany.com), Sue Wong (www.suewong.com), Zoe Lem (www.zoelem.co.uk) and Sally Lacock (www.sallylacock.com), to name a few.
Fully-beaded dresses can be produced as one-off bespoke designs, but expect to pay a premium. Modern day replica beaded flapper dresses, manufactured in larger quantities by companies like Leluxe (www.leluxeclothing.com), are a good option and represent truly excellent value.
The flapper-style wedding dress wasn't the only style worn during this period. A more formal gown would have been a narrow floor-length dress that also featured a narrow train. This style of 20s dress is probably better suited to those who don't want to wear a shorter gown on their wedding day.
Veils were typically very long, mostly cathedral length, and featured exquisite lace trim. The Juliet cap veil is one of my favorite styles of the 1920s. This particular style of veil, that rests over the forehead, was originally fashioned in the sixteenth century. The name stems from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet (original drawings of Juliet depicted her wearing a cap that fit neatly to the top of her head). Both Kate Moss and Lily Allen chose to wear a Juliet cap veil for their weddings in 2011, and this has sparked a huge resurgence in the popularity of this particular design. Cloche hat-style headpieces with veils attached were also fashionable.
For lovely modern day interpretations of the cloche hat and Juliet cap veil, check the Accessories listings at the back of this book for inspiration, but look out for Twigs and Honey, an Etsy store that ships worldwide (www.twigsandhoney.com) and LoveBySusie (www.lovebysusie.co.uk).
Instead of wearing a headpiece over the top of your head, tilt it forward to rest across your forehead. The decorated part of the headpiece will come even more into focus and create a bigger wow-factor.
Bridal shoes were the typical Mary Jane style — low-heeled, round-toe designs with either a single bar or T-bar fastening, which provided comfort during all that dancing! Modern shoes in this style are adorned with sparkly embellishment in the shape of Art Deco motifs, or pretty shoe clips featuring feathers. Two of the best shoe designers who take inspiration from the 20s are Rachel Simpson (www.rachelsimpsonshoes.co.uk) and Emmy Scarterfield (www.emmyshoes.co.uk). All Emmy shoes are bespoke designs, so you can influence the heel height, embellishment and general shape of the shoe.
Beaded handbags and purses made for elegant accessories and were very popular during the 1920s; many modern-day vintage-inspired accessory designers collect pieces like these to sell to their customers. Always ask if they have anything in stock, or refer to a specialized collector such as www.passionateaboutvintage.co.uk. Of course, if you would rather, many department stores offer brilliant replica Art Deco beaded purses. Either way, something in which to keep your lipstick and a pretty monogrammed vintage handkerchief to capture those wedding day tears will prove very useful on your big day!
Finish off your 20s look with strings of pearls, peacock feather accessories, feather buttonholes, and marabou feather fans. Britten Bags design some beautiful feather fan accessories that make pretty gifts for your bridesmaids, or wonderful keepsakes and wedding favors for your female guests.
THE 1920S BRIDE
Many people associate the 1920s with dropped-waist, beaded flapper frocks, but I was keen to explore a less clichéd and more accessible look. Here, Claire wears the 'Isadora' dress by Sally Lacock. This asymmetric, draped silk chiffon dress, with lace sash and handmade silk flowers is reminiscent of the classical, less structured style adopted by bohemians at the end of the Edwardian era and during the early 1920s. The top chiffon layer drapes gracefully from the hip to an integral flower, caught up at one side of the hem revealing a silk charmeuse under layer. A long train gently flows from the back neck and can be elegantly draped over the arm (see also here).
Excerpted from Style Me Vintage Weddings by Annabel Beeforth. Copyright © 2013 Annabel Beeforth. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
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Meet the Author
Annabel Beeforth is a writer whose work has appeared in Vintage Life, Wedding Flowers, and the Knot. She is the author of Love My Dress, which was voted one of the top-five wedding blogs in the world by Elle magazine.
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