Vintage continues to be one of the most popular wedding trends, and vintage wedding dresses and vintage-inspired wedding dresses are some of the most beautiful on the market. From Great Gatsby style flapper girl dresses to 1950s lace wedding dresses, here are just some of our favourite styles from the pre-1900s to the 1960s.
Above: Image by Anntuan on Shutterstock
7 Dreamy Vintage Wedding Dress Styles
Vintage describes several styles, from the elegant corseted Victorian and Edwardian dresses with their voluptuous full skirts and tiny waists to the fun, flirty, shorter styles of the Roaring Twenties and long, sleek cinema siren gowns of the 1930s.
1) Regency Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
The demure empire-line gowns of the Regency era are especially popular among fans of Jane Austen. These dresses are characterised by a fitted bodice that ends in a high waist just below the bust, a long flowing skirt and, oftentimes, cap sleeves or long, detailed sleeves. As shown below, these look especially beautiful as lace wedding dresses.
- Fitted bodice
- High waist
- Long skirt
- Cap sleeves
Featured above: Camilla by Katya Katya
2) Victorian Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
Victorian dresses, with their corseted bodices, full skirts, and long trains, are one of the favourite vintage wedding dresses to wear as they will hold in your waist and tummy while disguising hips and hiding thighs. They look fantastic with lower V-necklines and higher, off-the-shoulder or strapless bodices and are just generally striking and incredibly elegant. You see a lot of Victorian-style dresses with beautiful lace accents too.
- Tight-fitting, corseted bodice
- Full skirt
- Lace adornments, frills, and ruffles
Featured above: NANTES by Pronovias Priveé
3) 1920s Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
The Roaring Twenties was a period of economic growth and liberation, and this was reflected in the fashions of the time—full of opulence and glamour. Flappers were the trend-setters for the generation with their iconic bobbed hair, heavily made-up faces, shortened skirts and dramatic headbands, and the release of 2013’s film adaption of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby bought ‘flapper fashion’ to the forefront.
20s styles are, most often, simple shift-dress shapes with no defined waist, higher necklines, shorter skirts, and dresses with swishy fringe detailing. This style of dress is looser, and though the dropped waist is not the most flattering style it can be an especially striking look for less voluptuous and more ‘boyish’ figures.
- Short front, longer back
- Dropped waist
- Unshaped bodice
- Lace and bead embellishments
- Feather accessories
- Styled with long cloche style veils and dramatic bouquets
Featured above: RIVA by Pronovias
4) 1930s Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
Things were very different in the thirties with the Great Depression consuming the majority of the decade. People turned to the escapism of movies and Hollywood, and this in turn influenced the fashions of the era. Rayon was introduced during this period as a more affordable alternative to silk, and designs became more simplistic but no less stunning. One classic 30s-inspired bridal look is that of a slim, small-busted bride in a slinky, clingy gown with a plunging neckline or low back. The elegance and simplicity of these bias-cut gowns offers a less-is-more option. For accessories true to the era, add some bling to your gown in the way of a dress clip or sparkly brooch.
- Simple and elegant
- Rayon (artificial silk)
- Defined waist
- Emphasis of the figure
- Bias cut
- Full length dresses
Featured above: Arlo Gown by Grace Loves Lace
5) 1940s Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
The bridal fashions of the 40s were divided. Although the Great Depression ended towards the end of the 1930s, it was replaced with World War II which introduced a clothes and fabric ration in the early 40s. With the ‘mend and make do’ attitude of the time, many brides borrowed wedding dresses or just wore their uniform when they got married. For this reason outfits were simple and the white wedding dress almost disappeared during the war. However, post war, when the rationing was lifted, Christian Dior introduced the ‘New Look’. Celebrating luxury fabric and femininity, he created a silhouette with a nipped-in waist, full tea-length skirts, and cute matching jackets. Anything post WWII tends to be described as Retro, and retro wedding themes today are often some of the most fun and colourful you’ll find.
- Coloured jacket and dress/suit combinations
- Nipped in waist
- Full tea length skirt
- Flower corsages pinned in jackets
- Little hats with flowers and tulle
- Modest bouquets
Featured above: Style 11317 by Ellis Bridals
6) 1950s Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
The trends of the late 40s trickled into the 50s and the ultra feminine yet modest tea-length, ballerina-style dresses remained a strong trend. Stiff petticoats were used to create a fuller skirt. And with the lace restriction finally lifted, lace became the fabric of choice and created some absolutely gorgeous lace wedding dresses.
It was the Duchess of Cambridge who wowed us with her Sarah-Burton-for-Alexander-McQueen gown in 2011, re-fueling our obsession for vintage wedding dresses. Although Kate Middleton’s bridal gown touched on Victorian style elements such as the bodice structure, the semi bustle, and the 19th-century-inspired lace on the bodice, it was the similarity to Grace Kelly’s iconic bridal gown from 1956 that got the most reference. Both gowns featured stunning lace bodices with long sleeves, a nipped in waist and full skirt.
- Full-circle/circular skirts lifted with petticoats
- Tight-fitting waist
- Tea length/ballerina style dresses
- Boleros worn over strapless dresses
- Lots of lace!
- Short veils
7) 1960s Style Vintage Wedding Dresses
The 1960s saw a massive change in fashion. While there was lots of variety in shapes and styles, it was the ‘Mod’ look that really stood at the forefront. Fashion moved away from the restricting and tight-fitting cuts of the 50s and was replaced by unfitted, simplistic, clean lines and a boxier look. A-line gowns were also on the rise, fitted at the hips and widening towards the hem. Many modern brides keep their 60s inspired look simple with a short veil (or no veil at all) and a flick of black liquid eyeliner while others opt for a very colourful 1960s wedding.
- Shift dresses
- Empire lines
- Hems above the knee/knee length wedding dresses
- Boat neck necklines
- Boxy cuts
Featured above: Retro Bride – Colourful 1960s Wedding
There really is a vintage wedding dress for everyone, and you can complete your vintage wedding with our beautiful contemporary vintage wedding theme. For more on wedding dresses through the years, don’t miss this journey through 100 years of wedding dress fashion.