Vintage wedding dresses look fresh at a fraction, Annapolis retailers say
By Rachael Pacella
Feb 14, 2019 at 8:00 AM
With antique lace, a Peter Pan collar and floor-length satin, Joanna Young’s wedding dress was out of this world — and out of this century.
Young wore a vintage dress for her 2016 wedding, the same year she took over Evergreen Antiques on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. She’s sold and is still selling a variety of vintage wedding dresses in the store — gowns with collars from the 1970s, Bohemian looks from the 1960s and lacy, long-sleeve dresses from the 1950s.
While many customers pick up the white gowns for non-matrimonial affairs, the look is an option for brides who want to buck contemporary trends while saving money, she said.
“You start seeing all your friends getting married in the same look over and over again you're thinking, ‘I want to break out of this,’” she said.
She said by looking back, brides can find vintage styles that look fresh today.
“Also, the workmanship of the time is just incredible,” she said. “So you get really beautifully made things, and very much cheaper and much more affordable.”
A vintage dress might cost a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand, she said. And that has another advantage — you can get two if you want. That’s what Young did.
Young wore the long satin dress for most of the day, but for dancing at the reception she switched to a replica 1950s-style dress with big pink ruffles under it. She had a customer who did something similar, wearing a 1950s dress with long sleeves and lace at her ceremony— think Princess Grace — and a 1960s-style simple white sheath dress for the reception.
“She was able to kind of traverse two very different looks,” Young said.
She said when America was at war, as it was in the 1940s when materials such as silk were rationed, dresses were low-key and worn for other occasions. The same opportunity exists today, Young said; a bride can buy a less formal dress and wear it more than once.
While planning her wedding in 2017, Ashley Paternostro, 32, had two revelations: First, wedding dresses are expensive. And second, the time to open a retail space – a longtime dream of hers – was now.
By Allison Eatough
Feb 14, 2019 at 7:00 AM
Whether you’re buying a vintage dress from a shop for your ceremony or using a family heirloom, Young had some advice about what to look for and avoid.
Watch out for brittle fabric and a bad smell in the clothing. Small tears and broken zippers can be fixed, and if you like a dress enough you can accessorize over other flaws, she said, with a wrap or a brooch.
“But if it’s all cigarettes or something like that, I really can’t fix that,” she said.
Wearing the undergarments of the time period along with a vintage dress can also help things fit a little better, Young said. In some cases, dresses have waistlines that require the help of a corset.
Older dresses have fabric that doesn’t stretch much, so making alterations may also be necessary. It’s something Flavia and Dora Vasquez offer at Annapolis Formal and Tuxedos, a family business started more than 30 years ago.
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Anne Arundel County natives David Hart and Christian Siriano have become big-name designers with bridal and formal wear lines. Each has dressed celebrities, and they’ve developed a friendship and working relationship; Hart designed the suits for Siriano’s wedding in 2016.