Go Vintage, Go Green
Are you considering an eco-friendly wedding but all the natural and recycled fabrics and items aren’t your thing? Are you looking for glamour, romance and elegance but still aching to be green?
You can be glamorously green and eco-elegant while going vintage.
Vintage gowns have become very popular in recent years because of a renewed interest in the beauty and style of the past and the growing green movement. Many celebrities have donned vintage gowns for red carpet events and even for their own weddings. Vintage gowns, accessories and décor are fabulously green because no new resources are needed to make them.
Surprisingly there are many vintage styles and options to choose from. You might be surprised at what is available (they used to make things to last you know):
- The flapper styles of the 20’s
- The understated beauty of the 30’s
- The glamour of the 50’s
- The psychedelic fun of the 60’s
- The disco inspired attire of the 70’s
- Even the awesome 80’s if that’s your thing.
Perhaps you wish to go back even farther in time to romantic Edwardian or Victorian fashions.
One of the greatest things about going vintage is that you can center your whole wedding theme around the era of your gown.
Pair a 20’s flapper gown with old fashioned Speakeasy, bootleg, and mobster accessories (Al Capone anyone?).
Match up a 50’s dress with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, rock n roll records, juke boxes and poodle skirt flair.
Go 60’s hippie style or become a 70’s disco diva.
Research what was popular in a certain era and center your wedding attire and décor around that. Have fun scouring antique shops, thrift stores and online sites dedicated to vintage items (like Tias.com).
So where should you start?
There are many web sites that have information about vintage wedding gowns, traditions and accessories but I found a couple books to be most helpful:
Vintage Wedding – Simple Ideas for Creating a Romantic Vintage Wedding
by Daniela Turudich
Accessorizing the Bride -Vintage Wedding Finery through the Decades
by Norma Shephard.
These books will help you see what types of fabrics and styles of dresses were popular during different decades.
So where can you find vintage gowns?
You never know when you may find a gem at a local thrift store, consignment shop or antique store. You might even be lucky enough to have a vintage clothing retailer in your town. If not, there’s always eBay and a host of online retailers that specialize in vintage gowns. Two well known online retailers are VintageWedding.com and VintageVixen.com. If you are in the UK check out VintageDress.co.uk.
Be careful when shopping for vintage gowns especially if your purchase from an online retailer.
First of all make sure the gown is not a reproduction but an actual vintage gown. If you really want to go green buying a new “vintage” replica doesn’t fit the bill, unless it’s made out of natural, sustainable materials like hemp or bamboo.
Several popular stores offer vintage “style” dresses. They are not real vintage gowns which means they are not green. New materials and resources were used to create them.
Also be sure that you get a gown that is wearable. Some real vintage gowns are so old and fragile they cannot be worn, at least not without a lot of expensive and time consuming restoration which only a very qualified seamstress could accomplish.
- Always ask for full disclosure of the gown’s condition.
- Any stains, rips, or tears?
- Do the zippers, buttons, snaps, etc all work properly?
- Is anything missing?
- Is the elastic in good condition?
- Ask for good quality photos so you can examine the gown you are considering.
- Ask about the store’s return policy. If a retailer doesn’t offer to stand behind their merchandise you may want to shop somewhere else.
Another big issue with vintage gowns is sizing. Sizes have changed over the years. You’ll want to ask for measurements of any gowns you are considering. Get accurate measurements of yourself and an item of clothing that fits you well and compare them. Make sure you get insurance on anything shipped to you. The last thing to consider when purchasing a vintage wedding dress is undergarments. You’ll want to know what kinds of undergarments were worn with that specific style of dress. Some styles may require a corset or a hoop skirt. Many vintage styles cannot comfortably be worn with today’s modern undergarments.
Treat searching for items for your vintage wedding like treasure hunting. Grab your maid of honor, bridesmaids or your mom and take a day or two to hit all the local thrift shops, antique stores, yard sales, estate sales and whatever other second hand retailers you can find. Maybe you have a large flea market in the area. Make sure to stop there. You never know what you may come across nestled in the bottom of a thrift store bin or buried in someone’s garage. Second hand shopping can unearth many treasures, along with a lot of junk, but stick with it, perseverance is usually rewarded.
Having a vintage wedding can be rewarding, fun and ultimately green.
~Wenona Napolitano is the author of The Everything Green Wedding Book which will be out in December 2008. You can learn more about her and the book at www.everythinggreenweddings.blogspot.com