Are you looking for an original vintage wedding dress with bags of character and an intriguing past?
Then look no further than this comprehensive list of the best places to source an original frock for your big day! Whether you are looking for sleek 1930s, flapping 1920s, swinging sixties flair, understated prairie styles or Hepburn cocktails, this guide has it all!
Based in Montreal, Canada, Citizen Vintage is an independently owned vintage clothing boutique. For the last 5 years, owners Rebecca and Lara have been sourcing the most beautiful bridal wear dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. They emphasize quality when hand selecting the wedding dresses and carefully choose a variety that reflects timeless and classic style. If you are ever lucky enough to be in Montreal, this shop is a must to have a look at, but for those of us who are not so fortunate they have kindly put a selection of some of their best dresses online to be ordered.
Glory Days Vintage
Glory Days was founded in 2012 by Hayley Claire Neil, an experienced dressmaker, costume designer and self-confessed “vintageaholic”. Glory Days aims to provide wedding dresses for women that want something a little bit different from the norm. Whether you are looking for an edgy look or classic Hollywood glamour, Glory Days is sure to have something to your liking, helping women express their individuality and personalities. They stock many original pieces and have a wonderful service offering exact period replicas. If you are looking to replicate a dress of sentimental value to you, then you must talk to the helpful staff at Glory Days who are always happy to help.
Dress photographed by Steven Eric Parker: 1970s cream off-the-shoulder gown with chiffon ruffle – £250
Find them: www.glorydaysvintage.co.uk - 22 Walmgate, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9TJ
With a collection of dresses adored by both celebrity clients and fashion stylists, London based Elizabeth Avey has a dress for any woman with a passion of vintage. Her stunning private studio has a magnificent selection of vintage wedding dresses to melt your heart. All dresses can be altered by recommended talented seamstresses, so you do not need to experience the disappointment of your dream vintage dress not fitting.
Find them: www.elizabethavey.com - 4 College Approach, Greenwich, London, SE10 9HY - Prices start from £500
Abigail’s Vintage Bridal
Abigail’s Vintage Bridal is probably home to one of the largest collections of vintage wedding dresses in the UK, based in Oakham, Rutland, in the East Midlands. They source the finest original and unique dresses from around the world and can at one time have in stock over 200 dresses for your perusal, dating from the turn of the 20th century to the 1970s. Original vintage dresses do tend to come up small but Abigail offers her encyclopaedic knowledge of alterations and is very skilled. Taking a dress up a few sizes is often possible. She also provides a small selection of vintage accessories, from tiaras and jewellery to head dresses and veils.
Concetta’s Closet may be based in New Hampshire, USA, but her eye for wedding dresses is hard to beat. She stocks a wide variety of styles and eras, from the 1900s onwards. Dana, the owner of Concetta’s Closet is incredibly helpful. She sources almost all her dresses from the original owners – so if you are one of those people that loves to know the story behind your gown, she should be able to provide you with that information. She says that the 1930s era is the most wearable for girls today as the silhouettes are so transferable to modern styles with their bias cut skirts and sleek lines. If you are looking for a specific era of dress, especially 30s, she is the lady you need to talk to.
Vintage Lane Bridal
Channel your inner Rita Hayworth with a gorgeous gown from Vintage Lane Bridal. Based in Bolton, Lancashire and set up by a mother and daughter team, Vintage Lane Bridal has a large selection of original vintage wedding dresses from the 1920s to the early 1980s. Situated in the grounds of the idyllic Last Drop Village, they offer brides a complete choice of styles suitable for every type of wedding. They also offer a large collection of vintage occasion wear-perfect for mismatched bridesmaids! An added bonus is that they are conscious of brides on a budget, and so all of their dresses are priced under £400!
Vintage at Number 18
This little gem of a store is tucked away in the vibrant city of Newcastle Upon Tyne. This small boutique offers a veritable treasure trove of retro dresses, offering a wide selection of lovingly considered pieces from several different eras at very competitive prices. Sashay down the aisle in any of their beautiful dresses, turning more heads than you ever thought possible. They also offer a fabulous collection of designer accessories which covers everything you could wish for when deciding what will accompany your your authentic vintage wedding.
Hope & Harlequin
Hope & Harlequin opened seven years ago and during that time, the shop’s bridal range has continued to grow. Hope & Harlequin stocks a generous range of amazing vintage wedding gowns – from striking Victorian pieces, classic 1930s glamour and playful 1950s lace through to quirky 1970s designs – and has its own vintage-inspired made-to-order bridal range. They aren’t just experts in bridal gowns – they specialise in all things bridal; headpieces, veils, jewellery, bags, shrugs, shoes, capes and more. All these pieces are either original vintage or up-cycled from bygone treasures, and in addition to the vintage accessory stock, they also make custom headpieces and cover ups. H&H are passionate about creating a bridal look that 100% reflects clients’ personalities. From colour-matching fabrics as part of their made-to-order range to suit a client’s own colouring through to styling everything perfectly from top to toe, H&H go as near or as far as clients wish.
Find them: www.hopeandharlequin.com - Made to Order-Prices start from £500 - Original Vintage – Prices start from approx. £200 for simpler gowns up to £1100 for rare and more elaborate pieces.
Fur Coat No Knickers
Fur Coat No Knickers opened for business in 2008 in London and has been dressing brides-to-be ever since. Not only does the shop have a fab name, it also has a fantastic selection of original vintage dresses and new vintage-inspired dresses (as original vintage sizes can be quite limiting) Fur Coat No Knickers specialise in 1950s style dresses and better still, each dress is named after a cocktail! The entire vintage inspired collection of wedding dresses that they produce go up to a size 22 and so can cater to any size bride hoping to have a vintage gown.
Find them: www.furcoatnoknickers.co.uk - The Leathermarket, Ground Floor, Unit 0.3.0G1, Weston Street, London, SE1 3ER - Original Vintage from £895 including fitting and restoration. Vintage Inspired Dresses from £985, this does not include alterations.
The Vintage Gown
The Vintage Gown is situated in the town of Chatteris in Cambridgeshire, and specialises in sourcing genuine vintage wedding dresses which are offered for sale in original condition. You can browse through the collections online, and then organise an appointment at your home. With a rail full of dresses, a picnic basket of refreshments, and two hours of vintage dress heaven – what more could you need?
Find them: www.thevintagegown.co.uk - All dresses are priced between £50-£400.
Huge thanks to the writer of this feature – Emily Georgiou