Image: John Woodward Photography
Siobhan Mulholland-Cox, founder of Cambridge Vintage Bridal, gives us her guide to going vintage on your wedding day
Owning a one-of-a-kind, vintage bridal piece that no one else on the planet will have is a pretty big deal, and doesn’t have to cost the earth. But where do you start? Very simply, with an open mind and a willingness to try on styles from all eras.
At Cambridge Vintage Bridal, I curate and remarket high-end vintage wedding dresses for modern brides and get the gowns back into the retail chain. I’m on a mission to inspire brides to consider vintage by making vintage look like the future and not the past.
I find that brides come along with something in mind and leave with something totally different – I call this ‘the vintage effect’. Sometimes it’s the colour, the fabric pattern, a lace detail, the length, the fact it has sleeves, that the dress can be customised or that the dress itself has an interesting backstory that resonates.
Fashion repeats itself every few decades so, for example, when you are looking at a modern boho wedding dress, it is borrowing style influences from the 70s. Similarly, when you start contemplating a shorter wedding dress having tried on 64 long dresses, there is a definite nod to the 50s. And if you want a wedding dress like Ellie Goulding’s, then you need to be looking at the Edwardian era (super rare), but given that the 80s revived this look, you can start there.
We as humans are bigger today than we were in the 1920s, 1930s and even the 1970s. So, with this in mind, vintage wedding dresses are often smaller than today’s standard UK size scale. That said, because so many vintage wedding dresses were bespoke, they have been tailored to fit individuals and, like today, individuals come in all shapes and sizes.
When you wear a vintage wedding dress, it works with whatever theme or style of wedding you are planning – because the choice of styles is so very vast
This is why it’s so important to know your measurements when you are shopping for a vintage wedding dress: bust, waist, hips and ideally height. Once you know these, you can start to search for gowns that match your stats or are as close as possible to your measurements. Don’t lose heart if your dream vintage find looks like it won’t be an exact match – as with all bridalwear today, alterations are simply part of the process. I work with a fantastic Cambridge-based seamstress who is essentially a total genius when it comes to finding creative ways to make vintage gowns work for modern bodies.
Importantly, by going vintage on your wedding day, it doesn’t mean you have to be planning an overarching vintage style wedding, unless, of course, that’s your vibe. When you wear a vintage wedding dress, it works with whatever theme or style of wedding you are planning – boho, rustic, traditional, festival, indoor, outdoor, woodland, city centre – because the choice of styles is so very vast.
If you’d like to give our current collection of vintage wedding dresses a whirl, all stock is available online and by appointment at my studio.