Vintage Prom Dresses Ideas for a Classic Retro Look

If you have been paying attention to prom fashion trends over the years, you know that some styles never truly die. From shoulder pads to chokers, ruffles and patterned maxi dresses, it might take a few years or even a couple of decades, but iconic styles are pretty cyclical in nature. Today, especially online, you can find an amazing selection of retro and vintage inspired prom dresses like these in any style you can imagine. more “Vintage Prom Dresses Ideas for a Classic Retro Look”

Victorian Style Wedding Dresses

Fashion of the Victorian era is highly romanticized in books and movies. The romantic and dramatic feel of 19th century dresses makes them look like they were designed for a queen. And if here is one day that women deserve to feel like a queen, it’s her wedding day.

Victorian-era dresses are known for looking very heavy and bulky. Fortunately, fabrics blends now used to make wedding dresses are lighter than they were. Thus greatly enhancing how comfortable they are. Nowadays you can find beautiful variations of Victorian style mixed with modern necklines, patterns, and fabrics.

vintage style wedding dress

An important aspect to take into account when buying a wedding dress online or without previously trying it on is that it may not look as full on its own.

In reality, the Victorian masquerade ball gowns you see online look full because they have a petticoat also called a hoop skirt under them. It’s important to ask the vendor if the petticoat is built in or at least included.

Finally, Victorian style wedding dresses are usually ball gowns or A-line shaped dresses. If you want to have something a bit different you can choose a bustle back style with draped fabric converging at the tailbone. Details such as high neck or a button up back will give that vintage feel to a lace mermaid dress, while still keeping a modern line.

Don’t let other people’s opinions dictate your choice. If you always wanted to wear a lavish Victorian ball gown, but you were told it wouldn’t look good with your body shape than obviously, you’re not being objective. Don’t be afraid to try anything you think would feel amazing in. If you like what you see in the mirror than you got the right one. Be proud of who you are and express it in the choice of your ideal dress.

Vintage Designer Fashion with Adaptation Labels

As an aficionado of vintage fashion, it can be a minefield establishing if you have fallen for a genuine item or a counterfeit. If you desire a genuine vintage Chanel evening dress it just isn’t the same if you discover the dress you covet is a Chanel copy with a fake label sewn in.

However, between the world of genuine haute couture vintage pieces and scam knock-offs, there are vintage fashion items with original adaption labels which are a real find if you are lucky enough to come across them.

When the first haute couture fashion houses were founded in Paris they established a reputation for creating individual pieces tailored to the client. Of course their fabulous designs were tempting to counterfeiters. In the days before ready-to-wear became a mass market reality, the fashion houses pre-empted possible financial losses of their designs being ripped off, by choosing to license adaptations which had the right to bear adaptation labels. They would sell the rights for their designs to be reproduced by European and American businesses that would re-create or adapt the styles for a more mass market customer base.

Bergdorf Goodman, the luxury Manhattan department store, was one American business that bought licences to recreate haute couture fashion and sell the styles with adaptation labels showing the pieces were genuinely licensed copies of the original design. Clothes sold by Bergdorf Goodman with adaption labels were the precursor of today’s ready-to-wear lines launched by the fashion houses themselves.

Clothes sold with adaptation labels could be either adaptations of the original designs or faithful reproductions of the originals. The fashion houses licensing their clothes would be assured their name was linked to quality pieces rather than shoddy copies. Naturally the clothes brandishing adaptation labels were appealing to customers who wanted to be up-to-date with the latest designer fashions but couldn’t afford the exclusive price tags. The pieces carried the prestige without the hefty prices. Often an adaptation label would bear the words ‘authorized reproduction.’

This genuine Chanel adaptation label simply reads Adaptation Chanel Paris, while this Mad Carpentier adaptation label includes the name of the American ready-to-wear producer Puritan.  In addition, it states that it is an authorized reproduction of Mad Carpentier. Other couture houses which licensed adaptations include Molyneux, Pierre Balmain, Bruyere and Lanvin.

Today you may discover an original vintage dress bearing an adaptation label and be confident it is a quality reproduction. You can browse for such pieces in boutiques specializing in vintage clothing or find them online.

This 1930s vintage Chanel dress is an example of a designer reproduction dress with an adaptation label.

The dress is styled in multi-colored floral silk organza with a floral adorned navy organza sash. In the 1920s Chanel began embellishing silk organza with floral appliques and this vintage dress is a fine example of the technique. In addition to licensing the rights to the design Chanel would also provide the fabric, enabling the licensee to create a truly authentic reproduction. The dress showcases the original adaptation label.

Best Places to Buy Vintage Clothing Online

Online vintage clothing stores have expanded the shopping horizons of those who love vintage style. Flea markets and niche boutiques can turn up some wonderful finds, but online stores provide even more choice, particularly if a shopper favors a particular decade or a certain designer. Vintage clothing offers the chance to wear unique pieces steeped in history. It is often whimsical, in addition to being excellent value and eco-friendly. To unleash your inner style icon browse the one-of-a-kind pieces in these online vintage clothing stores.

Rusty Zipper

From Rusty Zipper.

Rusty Zipper carries a comprehensive range of vintage clothing and accessories for both men and women. Collections include women’s dresses, suits, sweaters and swimwear, and men’s shirts, pants and ties. Women’s dresses are divided into eras ranging from the 1940s to the 1980s, with decade collections featuring 1950s shirt-waisters and 1980s power dressing shoulder pads.  There are retro prom dresses to take you back in time and psychedelic minis from the 1960s. Styles range from ethnic and hippie, to secretary, prairie and hourglass wiggle. Rusty Zipper accessories include retro sunglasses, scarves, gloves and hats.

Unique Vintage

From Unique Vintage.

Unique Vintage is a goldmine of retro fashion, stocking clothing from the 1920s through to the 1970s. They have glorious vintage prom dresses, vintage flapper dresses, retro swimwear and an excellent selection of plus size clothing.  This online store also specializes in vintage inspired clothing to mix and match with the genuine items. Their wedding selection includes dresses for the bride and bridesmaids, shoes, accessories and guest attire for vintage themed weddings.


For those with a taste for vintage designer clothing Farfetch features the top names from the world of couture fashion. You can shop for vintage Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace and Yves Saint Laurent. You can discover unique vintage clothing designed by Thierry Mugler, Giorgio Armani, Pierre Cardin and Hermes. You can snap up an original designer bag to accessorize vintage suits and dresses. The vintage lines stocked by Farfetch are iconic and coveted, and won’t break the bank.

Wear it Well Vintage

This American vintage store specializes in handpicked items of women’s clothing, accessories and home decor. The store continuously updates stock so it is worth checking often to see if the style that entrances you is represented. Amongst the stock at Wear it Well Vintage, you can find retro trench coats, dresses, jumpsuits, blouses and swimwear from across the decades. The store also sells vintage bags, accessories and jewelry.

Designer Vintage

A Roberto Cavalli dress from Designer Vintage.

Designer Vintage is an online platform for a range of boutiques specializing in vintage designer clothing. All items are checked for authenticity before being promoted. Here you will find designer bags by Chanel and Louis Vuitton, clothes by Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and shoes by Saint Laurent and Valentino.

Guermantes Vintage

Aficionados of the 1920s to 1940s will appreciate the rare and unusual antique clothing collected by Guermantes Vintage. There are original flapper dresses from the 1920s, fabulous 1920s reversible coats and wedding dresses created in the 1930s. This online boutique is a must for vintage fans on the lookout for rare pieces.

London Embraces Vintage Style

Antique fairs and flea markets make London a popular center of vintage fashion. Special events celebrating vintage style are a regular feature in the British capital, covering all aspects of retro ranging from glassware and furniture, through to fine art, vinyl records and fashion. Vintage fashion events, some held on an annual and others on a more regular basis, include Frock Me! Vintage Fashion Fair, So Last Century Vintage Market, Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair, London The Way We Wear, Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair and The National Vintage Wedding Fare. Tourists brush shoulders with avid collectors in a shared interest for retro finds.

London is a veritable delight for shoppers of vintage fashion pieces. Its many markets and boutiques make it a treasure trove of retro and vintage, a prime spot for shoppers with the vintage bug. Here we put the spotlight on some of the best vintage shopping spots in the capital.

Cabbages and Frocks

Cabbages and Frocks is a high-end fashion market open every Saturday in Marylebone. It is a choice place for vintage finds and is very popular with fashionistas and A-list celebrities.

Beyond Retro

East London’s Beyond Retro has an enviable reputation as the place for vintage fashion. Beyond Retro has the largest selection of vintage clothing in the UK, stocking dresses, coats, jumpsuits, blouses, swimwear and much more. Accessories include bags, hats, sunglasses and scarves, and you can always find a vintage thigh-high boot to go with that 60s mini dress. Beyond Retro also caters to vintage lovers outside London through its online store.

Rokit has grown from its original Camden market stall to its now four bricks and mortar stores across London and an online shop. Their vintage fashion pieces range from the 1930s through to the 1990s and are handpicked for their uniqueness and their appeal to the style conscious.

Rokit stocks inspired vintage clothes and quirky accessories. You can find classic vintage, party dresses, jumpsuits and lingerie, in addition to designer vintage labels including Alexander McQueen, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino.

You can browse through the vintage wedding collection or even kit yourself out in vintage ski wear. The man on your arm won’t be bored as you shop as the men’s collection includes vintage clothing, braces and bowties.

Radio Days Vintage

Fashion at Radio Days Vintage in Waterloo spans the 1920s to the 1980s. In addition to vintage clothing this store stocks books, jewelry and homeware. Every item is genuine vintage rather than retro reproductions. Radio Days appeals to men as well as women, with its wonderful selection of vintage cravats, cufflinks, tie clips and cigarette cases. Radio Days is an Aladdin’s Cave of rare vintage.

Blackout ll

Covent Garden’s Blackout ll has been selling vintage apparel and accessories for three decades and specializes in quality vintage pieces. Period clothing ranges from the 1920s to the 1980s. Retro dresses include casual and cocktail, evening gowns and wedding dresses. This is a great store for vintage suits for men. Blackout 11 has featured in Time Out’s list of London’s best shops.

Vintage Wedding Dresses You Can Wear Today

Wedding dresses are the ultimate wear-only-once fashion item, often an extravagantly expensive purchase that will only ever be appreciated once. Eco-friendly brides who love the romantic appeal of retro style vintage wedding dresses may consider investing in a vintage gown for the occasion, reviving new life into a treasured garment that has been packed away in an attic for decades.

There is something intrinsically romantic in breathing new life into a wedding gown that once graced an earlier bride. Brides may consider shopping in vintage stores or online, or revive the dress originally worn by a beloved grandmother. Vintage wedding dresses often cost less than modern gowns, particularly if they are pre-worn. Brides should not think of a vintage wedding dress as second-hand but rather as pre-loved, steeped in the romance of a wedding from a bygone era. Vintage gowns, having passed the test of time, are timeless. Classic styles with a retro aura will look amazing in the wedding photographs, particularly if the bridesmaids choose dresses reflecting the era of the wedding dress.

Brides considering choosing a vintage wedding dress have many decades of designs to choose from. The 1920s was the flapper style era, popularized by tea-length shift dresses, while the 1980s was the decade of puffed sleeves. The Bohemian style of the 1970s has inspired many modern Bohemian wedding dresses, but if the bride wants original retro there are amazing original vintage dresses from that era to be found.

If a bride has decided to go with vintage she should be aware sizes have changed over the years and vital measurements are the key to a good fit. It may be necessary for a professional seamstress to make alterations to a vintage wedding dress. Additionally the fabric should be closely checked for any discolorations that have occurred over the years. If a bride opts for vintage for her wedding there is more than simply the dress to consider. There are vintage wedding veils and head-pieces, and accessories such as vintage garters, gloves, and brooches.

Brides looking for vintage wedding dress inspiration can consider these styles representing five decades of dresses, from the 1940s to the 1980s, each available online via Etsy.

Vintage Wedding Dresses
1940s long sleeved satin wedding dress.

This 1940s long sleeved satin wedding dress was designed for a British wartime bride. A very high sweetheart neckline nestles between the shoulder pads of this simple yet elegant dress.


Vintage Wedding Dresses
1950s knee-length French wedding dress.

Above, this 1950s knee-length French wedding dress with an A-line silhouette is styled in silk damask. This petite, embroidered vintage wedding dress has a jewel neckline, 3/4 sleeves, cinched waist and an oversized bow adorns the skirt.


Vintage Wedding Dresses
1960s vintage satin wedding dress
Vintage Wedding Dresses
1960s vintage satin wedding dress

This 1960s satin vintage wedding dress with a slim A-line silhouette features long sleeves. Delicate lace daisy appliques adorn the illusion neckline and the back waistline.


Vintage Wedding Dresses
1970s vintage Bohemian style organza wedding dress

This 1970s Bohemian-style organza vintage wedding dress features floral lace appliques embellishing the bodice, the long cuffed sleeves and the high round neckline. The lace applique trim is mirrored on the waistline and the scalloped hemline of this A-line gown.


Vintage Wedding Dresses
1980s cocktail-length wedding dress

This 1980s cocktail-length wedding dress is styled in sequin fabric with a peplum and puff sleeves. The bodice showcases gold embroidery and the puff sleeves are a classic of the era.