Many brides are not interested in modern looks for their wedding gowns, so they start looking for a vintage wedding gown. Vintage clothing is available in shops and on the Internet, but what should a bride look for when considering that vintage gown?
As with anything used, the buyer is always well-advised to purchase according to condition. The condition of the gown will, no doubt, depend greatly on how well it has been preserved over the years and its age. If a bride is thinking retro since, say, 1960, chances are the gown will not have suffered greatly in the interim, especially if it was well preserved by a reputable dry cleaner or other preservation business. Synthetic fabrics have become much more popular for wedding gowns since about 1960, and these do not deteriorate as quickly as natural fabrics.
With older gowns, a buyer must think primarily about fabric deterioration. If the dress is silk, especially, or has been exposed to sunlight, or stored in non-acid-free paper, the fabric may be weak and inclined to fray or rip. Visual inspection or a written guarantee of quality is absolutely required before buying an older gown.
Fabric appearance is also important. Are there any stains on the gown? Will the seller pay to have the gown cleaned before sale, or is the gown sold “as is?” Some stains can be removed. Others will not come out so easily, and the buyer needs to consider these things.
General condition of the dress is another consideration. If the dress contains beading, are the beads in good condition and are there any sections missing? Are there any rips, tears or holes in the gown? If so, can these be mended or covered? One example would be a hole in a skirt, perhaps made by a stiletto heel. Could this hole be covered with lace and beading? A buyer might wish to put down an “inspection deposit” on the dress and take it to a professional seamstress or tailor to get an idea about what repairs might be necessary. The buyer can also consult with this person on the advisability and feasibility of alterations for the gown.
The buyer must also consider fit for a vintage wedding gown. Older gowns will often be smaller for their size, and the seller needs to provide exact measurements so a bride can make a decision on whether the gown is likely to fit, and if it will need extensive alterations.
Price, oddly enough, is probably the last thing to consider. A buyer must determine whether the price offered is commensurate with the condition and age of the gown. A buyer should do some research in prices for vintage gowns in order to make sure the price offered is a fair one.
A woman looking for a vintage wedding gown should carefully consider all aspects of the buying process, paying particular attention to fabric condition and size.