Everyone knows I have a slight dress obsession. Well, okay, a big one.
I own over fifty vintage reproduction dresses already, with a few real vintage dresses thrown in too, so when everyone heard the news that my other half and I were engaged, the most common question I was asked was “What kind of dress are you going to have?!”
People wanted to know if it was going to be vintage, vintage reproduction, perhaps not vintage style at all and if I was thinking of opting for a long ball gown for one of the biggest days of my life.
Even though I wanted to get married and was over the moon when Adam asked me, I have never been one of those girl to pour over photos of weddings on Pinterest or in magazines. I’ve been to weddings and sure, they’re lovely and incredibly special but I wasn’t particularly obsessed with the whole idea of a big white wedding, like some people are. The same with the traditional dresses.
I knew I wanted a dress that was slightly different and I wanted something that was me. Many women go for the big statement dresses, the blingy ones or huge meringues. Ball gowns are very much in right now, as well as long veils and lots of detail and embroidery. But was that really me?
I also knew I was going to order my dress online. Not one to do things incredibly traditionally, I didn’t care for the painstaking wedding dress shopping, going from shop to shop and trying on countless overpriced dresses (sorry, retailers). I’m also thrifty and like to think I’m quite down to Earth, with regards to money. I wanted to wear something special but I didn’t want to spend a fortune on it. It is one day after all. So it was about getting the balance right.
And besides, most vintage reproduction retailers only sell online or are very limited in high street shops anyway. I knew I’d order a dress or two online and try them on at home and go from there.
But what did I want?
Well, going by the types of dresses I already owned, it wasn’t a huge leap to my wedding dress. I knew I wanted a tea length style, meaning it sat around the knee and had a skirt that skimmed my hips to create that 1950’s silhouette, a sweetheart style neckline but not a lot of cleavage, yet emphasised my small waist. I also knew I wanted sleeves, because I adore dresses with sleeves (and I believe that nowhere near enough dresses are made with them), but it also needed to have lace. I wanted gorgeous lace sleeves! I wasn’t actually fussed on the colour, looking at traditional white, cream, tan, pink and even blue dresses. I knew it would be the dress as soon as I saw it, whatever the colour.
I spent houuuuurs going through sites that sold vintage reproduction dresses which were suitable for a bride-to-be. I knew I didn’t want real vintage. Like my day to day clothes, I prefer vintage reproduction as the infusion of vintage styles with modern fabrics and touches is what appeals to me. I’m always mixing high-street flavours with my retro styling too.
Some of the sites I went through included unique vintage, Honeypie Boutique, Lady V London, Pinup Girl and Chotronette, which had some lovely dresses, but none that were my style. I literally looked at about a hundred retailers!
Some honourable mentions, which didn’t make the final cut, but did really impress me include:
Which was the perfect length, but didn’t have sleeves or feel special enough for me. I loved the lace overlay and 1960’s mixed with 50’s but it didn’t feel feminine enough for my big day.
More of a splurge, with a lovely neckline that I decided just wasn’t for me, in the end, this one is very pretty. It was still missing the sleeves though and the skirt looked too ‘poofy’.
Lovely lace, but not enough of it for me. It is really intricate and pretty though, but I wanted something more unusual. A bit more different that expressed my personality thoroughly.
The spotted mesh is very different and on-trend right now and I do love it in black tops (I have so many). It looks very convincingly vintage.
The dress I ultimately went for did indeed have all four of the things I was looking for – lace, knee-length, sweetheart style neckline and sleeves, but which others almost made the cut?
For a while, I wondered whether to go for this halterneck Vivien of Holloway dress, which is incredibly popular.
The lace overlay and silhouette of this dress is gorgeous and fun. It also had the sweetheart neckline I know flatters me. I could imagine spinning around in circles at the party after the reception in this frock, but ultimately decided that it wasn’t the wedding dress. A fun party dress, yes, but not my wedding dress. I was after something different, but not too unusual. I still wanted it to feel like a wedding dress, my wedding dress and I’d have felt pretty in this, but not like it was the most special day of my life. Plus, my arms would get cold!
Still going with the white and lace theme, this Daisy Dapper dress ended up third in my wedding dress line-up. It has the sweetheart neckline I love and the daisy lace overlay is so pretty.
It’s such a cute dress. But that was it. It was cute and pretty. It’s also elegant, but I wanted stylish, sophisticated and me. I wanted sleeves!
It turns out a wedding dress with sleeves isn’t too easy to come by…
The dress that came second, is the Frances Cream Lace Dress by Chi Chi London, which is the only non-white in the final four.
It’s a gorgeous cream/tan colour, which, you guessed it, has a lace overlay, tea dress cut and sweetheart neckline, but was missing those sleeves. I loved this one a lot. It’s understated, but sophisticated. With a pair of lace gloves (though the exact colour to match would be hard to find), it would look stunning. The skirt is more poofy (my technical term for big) which is what I wanted and it’s clearly a wedding dress, but not too conventional. It’s different. In the end, it wasn’t quite the dress I had in mind.
The dress I went with in the end, was another Chi Chi London; The ‘Flora’ White Lace Dress, which had all the components I was looking for.
The lace, sweetheart neckline, tea length and sleeves! Yes, sleeves! As soon as I saw it, I love it instantly. I saved all four of these dresses in a folder on my laptop and kept going back to them, until I felt sure which one I wanted. And this one always came out on top.
I loved the long sleeves. I think my arms look best in sleeved dresses and it felt more comfortable than having bare arms. The well defined sweetheart neckline and dramatic tulle underskirt, with multiple layers, creates a princess look which is sophisticated, elegant and not too traditional. It was perfect as it combined all elements of a dress I love.
A year passed, as we booked our wedding almost eighteen months after getting engaged, and my mind inevitable changed! The skirt on the Chi Chi London dress with it’s many layers, making it really ‘poofy’ (technical term) wasn’t appealing to me anymore, and the super tight fit was worrying me as our big day was happening abroad, in Greece, so I didn’t want to be uncomfortably stuck to the dress with sweat. With my health conditions, my weight can fluctuate quick quickly too and I had the Chi Chi London dress in a size 10, which ran small (more like an 8) with no stretch.
However, I didn’t think much more of it until I was browsing Joanie’s New Year sale, and spotted THIS beautiful gown.
Similar to my original dress, in that it was a tea dress length, had lace, sleeves and a subtle sweetheart-esque neckline. However, the addition of the bow around the waist and the pretty back design was enough to win me over. I ordered it in two sizes, my current size 10 and a 12 just to be safe and in the end the 10 fit absolutely fine on the big day.
When it arrived, I immediately loved it even more than the original, which I didn’t think was possible. This one sat nicer, flowed better when I moved and the lace felt much better quality, with what I feel is a better design and pattern than the Chi Chi dress. And at £27 in the sale, it was an absolute steal!
Replacing the bow with a royal blue ribbon, I paired it with my birdcage veil and shoes on the big day, to create my desired vintage look.
You can find a separate blog on my wedding shoes, also on my website soon!
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