I received a question from Kristin about restyling her grandmother's vintage wedding dress. This is what she asked:
"I'm thinking of wearing my grandma's wedding dress, but modernizing it a bit. Do you have photos or before and afters for inspiration? I think that would make a great post! Thanks."
This was part of my reply to Kristin:
You’ve asked a great question about restyling vintage wedding dresses. I agree with you that some before and after pictures on redesigned wedding gown would be great. But sorry, I don’t have any pictures.
Here is a vintage wedding dress before and after it was restored. In order to restyle a vintage wedding dress, you must start with a dress that is in good enough shape to restyle. So check with your wedding gown specialist about your vintage dress to see if it can be restored to a condition that you will want to wear. Miracles, like great wedding memories, are possible with wedding gowns.
As experienced vintage wedding gown restoration specialist in Birmingham, Alabama, here are some of the problems we often see with wedding gowns that have not been cleaned, preserved or stored properly over the years:
- Yellowed spots on the wedding gown resulting from not removing sugar stains from the dress after it was worn
- General discoloration of the wedding dress, as in the picture above, due to long-term storage in high temperatures or high humidity areas, like attics and basements. Storing a dress in an area that gets no air circulation can also cause discoloration as well as storage of the dress in plastic or with items made from plastic, leather (with glue present) or metal.
- Fabric damage due to insects and their larvae eating the fabric or food spilled on the wedding dress and not cleaned before storing.
- Damage to beading or discoloration around the beading resulting from glue used on the beads or the deterioration of the beads themselves.
- Streatched seams from leaving the wedding dress on a hanger in the closet for an extended time.
Some of the spots and discoloration problems can be corrected or at least improved through garment restoration techniques. Beads and sequins can be a problem but can sometimes be replaced if necessary. And seam stretching can sometimes be reduced by an experienced dressmaker. But other times these problems cannot be completely corrected. Let an experienced wedding gown restoration specialist take a look at your gown and give you an opinion on the likelihood of success restoring your vintage wedding gown.
Once you have determined that you can use your vintage wedding gown, here are some ideas of how you can go about the restyling of your vintage wedding gown.
First, decide on the basic features you desire such as length of the gown, sleeved or strapless, type of train and veil, etc. Then look for pictures of the features you like within each of the following areas:
- Get pictures of styles for the bodice area of gowns that you like…front and back.
- Get pictures of the styles for the lower area of gowns that you like…front and back.
- Get pictures of the trains you like.
- Get pictures of any accessories you might like (including those that might use portions of the gown) like a veil, etc.
- Then take a look at Grandma's dress. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish with a re-design. Be specific. List features you don’t like in the current dress and those you do like.
The purpose of this exercise is to get you to think about the specific features of the dress…and then write them down so you can think about them and discuss them with an experienced wedding gown specialist/dressmaker.
Understand that there are some things you can change and some things you can't change with the existing dress. Talk with our dressmaker and get an idea of what's possible. Plan early on this so you're not pushed to make a quick desision. Plan and be prepared for several fittings to get your dress just right.
You can end up with a special dress and really make Grandma and the entire family proud.
And when your wedding is over, remember to get your wedding dress cleaned and preserved so maybe one day your daughter can wear your wedding dress.
Get Wedding Dress Alterations from a Specialist. From simple hems, to adding a bustle, altering the bodice to a redesign of a vintage gown. We can do it and you can relax.
Learn more about our wedding dress alterations services here.