Modern brides look to the past for dressy inspiration

It’s not uncommon for a bride to look through her mother’s or grandmother’s wedding pictures to find inspiration for her own big day. Some brides may wear a family heirloom that has been preserved or take pieces of a wedding dress, such as a section of lace, and incorporate it into their own wedding dress or veil.

But regardless of a family connection, today, more and more women are looking to various time periods to find their wedding dress. “Brides are looking for inspiration from the past when honing in on their own wedding-day look,” says Gabriella Risatti, owner of Gabriella New York in SoHo.

The inspirational decades and periods vary, from Victorian and Edwardian gowns and the Art Deco looks of the roaring twenties to mod dresses of the ’60s and laid-back ’70s styles. Even the 1990s are making a comeback thanks to the Narciso Rodriguez slip dress Carolyn Bessette wore to her 1996 wedding to John F. Kennedy, Jr.

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While the 1980s are inspiring current fashion trends with acid-washed jeans and scrunchies making comebacks, Risatti tells the New York Post she doesn’t get requests from brides looking for a gown similar to Princess Diana’s voluminous wedding dress adorned with lace trim and bows.

Some eras have had more of an influence on brides and wedding dress designers than others. In 2013, thanks to the film “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, Art Deco looks took center stage at many bridal runway shows with British designer Jenny Packham leading the charge. “The Art Deco trend was so fun with all of the beaded gowns and ’20s-inspired headpieces,” notes Risatti. “I think the country had weathered a very bad recession and was more than ready for some glitz and glamour by the time the movie came out. If you were lucky enough to be getting married at that time it gave you a wonderful excuse to really go for it and glam up your wedding!”

But there’s a fine line between a chic wedding-day look and a costume one. A bride should choose a dress she feels and looks beautiful in. “If you wear it with passion, confidence and authenticity, it will look perfect. You have to be true to who you are. If you’ve never really stepped out with your fashion and then show up with a really crazy wedding look, it won’t feel authentic and could be misinterpreted as a costume,” adds Risatti.

When wearing a vintage-inspired look, remember that your hair and makeup can always keep you out of the costume category. “Hair and makeup should remain classic, if the dress is representing a time period, in order to stay neutral,” explains Linsey Snyder Wachalter, owner of Brooklyn-based Face Time Beauty Concierge. “Hair parted in the middle and down with a bit of bounce looks great with any kind of dress, no matter the style. Makeup should stay natural and clean.”

Brides can enhance their homage with era-specific accessories. A beaded handbag for a Deco look. A wide-brimmed hat for a 1970s style. Or a hair clip from the same time period the wedding dress is from could be a way of pulling everything together. “This way, you are continuing the theme, but the actual hairstyle is still somewhat modern,” Wachalter says.

Grooms tend to have it a bit easier in that a classic tuxedo will complement almost any wedding dress, regardless of the time period it’s inspired by. “If the groom wants his look to fit the same style as his bride’s, there are options for him depending on the decade,” advises Julie Sabatino, owner of The Stylish Bride, a wedding fashion styling company in Manhattan. “A groom may opt for a white dinner jacket which is a throwback to the 1950s, or he can wear a smoking jacket with metallic accents if the bride is in a glam look. We’ve also done the Rat Pack look with a bow tie untied at the neck.” One look Sabatino mentioned that isn’t being asked for is the powder-blue tuxedos from the 1970s with ruffled shirt to match.

Brides can find inspiration online at Pinterest, of course, but also in period TV shows and movies as wide ranging as “Downton Abbey” to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.

Explain to the sales consultant what you’re shopping for and use photos to help illustrate what you want. You can also visit some vintage shops and retailers who sell period-inspired ready-to-wear, as they may also have what you’re looking for.

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