Tuesday 16 April 2013

Circa Vintage Brides London

The search for 'The Dress' begins...

Some of you have been asking, 'When is she going dress shopping?'

Molly - late 1940s

Sophia - 1920s Style Bias Cut Silk Lace Wedding Dress
Sophia - 1920s

Well, I have been. My friend phoned me to announce she’d booked us into a bridal boutique a few weeks ago. And the unexpected happened: For the first time in my life I found myself unexcited at the prospect of dress shopping.

I’d never tried on a wedding dress before. Wedding dresses were for grown-up, flawless, successful, life-plan-worked-out women. I bemoaned my imperfect skin, the fact I hadn't been for a run in [insert number here] months and my limp hair. The thought of seeing myself for the first time in a wedding dress looking anything less than perfect and – yes, I’ll say it – magical was too much to comprehend.

But upon entering the boutique and gushing my apologies to the assistant, I was soothed by the beautiful array of dresses; something Norah Jones-esque playing in the background and the reassuring smiles.

A beautiful boutique in Richmond, London. Astral Sundholm-Hayes is the talented designer behind this label. Her designs are based on vintage dresses but altered to suit the modern woman. What a wonder!

The assistant sat me down and discussed my preferences. I explained I hadn't really given it much thought (tiny fib) and that I was keen to try on anything. So, together we selected dresses from the twenties through to the seventies - excluding the sixties because my body really was not made for that era.

Trying on the dresses:

  1. First tip: DO NOT WEAR FUCHSIA PINK UNDERWEAR. Yes, reader, I speak from experience.
  2. Second tip: Leave your inhibitions at the door. The assistant warned me that “This is where it gets a bit ‘Trinny and Susannah’” and she was right. You will be stood in your underwear for what might seem like a long time if, like me, you’re not much of an exhibitionist - and you will be required to “put your arms up” and “pretend you’re about to dive” while dresses are put on and taken off. But relax and remember they’ve seen it all before.
  3. Do be open to lots of ideas particularly in the early stages.  You might just be surprised.

The dresses:

First up: Eddie

A 1920s-inspired silk satin dress that hangs beautifully and provides an immaculate silhouette. The bust is adorned with delicate French lace and there is a subtle waist and fluted skirt which provides definition and curves in all the right places. You can alter the width of the straps if you like to suit your frame and taste (I personally preferred them when they were slightly thinner). The assistant added a silk sash and brooch which added even more definition to the waist. 
Eddie - 1920s Style Satin and Lace Wedding Dress
Eddie - 1920s

A Veil?

I had absolutely made up my mind about this: no veil. Reasons for this:

  • 1.       Old fashioned,
  • 2.       Cumbersome,
  • 3.       My Dad or fiancĂ© (or both) would mess up my hair,
  • 4.       Ghoulish

With such staunch resolve there was no way my mind would be altered. I am a woman and I know my own mind.

Well, the assistant suggested I try the dress with a simple cathedral veil and, really only to humour her and my friend, I complied.

Then the big moment. You know, that one a la ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ where the bride steps out blindfolded before a mirror and the blindfold is removed and...

Minus the blindfold, I looked at my friend’s face before looking into the mirror. She was crying! And not the tears I’d been crying before, but happy tears. I looked into the mirror and all my previous fears were banished.

I looked like a bride.

Vivienne - Full length
Vivienne - 1930s
I tried other dresses and needless to say I loved the veil with every single one of them. In particular, the 1930s-inspired ‘Vivienne’ stands out as well as Eddie. The georgette scarves add classic glamour and I felt like a Hollywood icon as I sashayed around the shop. This was the dress I was wearing when, trying to conceal the inappropriate fuchsia pink underwear, a couple knocked on the door to tell me how much they liked it on me. I must admit I’ve thought about it a lot since...

Forties vintage wedding dress style - Ava
Ava - 1940s
All images Copyright © Circa Vintage Brides, 2012

As a passionate admirer of dresses I have no desire to pick a dress quickly. Lots of magazines will tell you not to try on too many for fear of clouding your mind, but I say otherwise. 

With prices around the £2,600 mark, Circa was a great place to begin my search.

~ x ~ 

Which one is your favourite?


  1. I wore the Vivienne in Oyster Satin (I went for a change of colour) for my wedding in New Zealand in March and added some dress clips - it is a stunning dress and was one of the first of many I tried on ... but obviously I went back for the Viviene.

  2. Congratulations! Fantastic choice - I'm sure it must have looked wonderful. Did you pin the georgette scarves or keep them loose? I couldn't decide which way I liked best! x