Vintage is a popular wedding style which will seemingly never go out of fashion. When I got married myself, my dream was to embody 1920’s glamour, and I wanted authentic touches to pepper both my outfit and the decor. However I struggled to find accurate information covering all the details I needed to pull together to achieve my vision- and even when I knew what I was looking for, pinning down those elusive items became a bit of a headache. So I decided to write this mini-series to help others who are planning their own vintage weddings.
Last week I wrote about untraditional wedding dresses, including typical wedding gowns through the eras. This week I’m following up with retro veils and jewellery, to complement and complete the vintage bridal outfit. In the coming few weeks I will complete the series with three more instalments: shoes and bags, hair and make-up, and one for the boys.
(You’ll note that I’ve lumped the twenties and thirties together; this is because both decades favoured very similar designs.)
1920’s and 1930’s – Think Gatsby
Characteristic of the twenties and thirties was the stunning birdcage veil, typically adorned with lace and beading. The sinamay base (stiff woven fabric) sits to one side of the head, with the veil covering one eye, and usually finishes just above the nose.
Headbands were also popular and could be equally ornate (though not incorporating a veil they are, of course, less bridal). Headbands would often have a brooch to one side, perhaps embellished with a cameo or feather/s, and almost certainly bejewelled with pearls or gemstones.
For something a little more traditional, you could choose the Juliet cap; closer in style to the classic veil: it is longer, and gathered into a bonnet shape that sits atop the head.
Being a wedding blog, not covering this topic would be a sacrilegious omission – though in comparison to the veil, they are not so characteristic of these eras. Should your headpiece of choice be the tiara, the varying fashions covered under each ‘Jewellery‘ heading, may be extended to include them.
Moving away from the Art Nouveau movement, the roaring twenties (and thirties) was the period of Art Deco, and this is clear from the geometric and scallop-shaped jewellery of the era (think Gatsby opulence).
Also fashionable were long strands of layered pearl necklaces, or the Sautoir – a long necklace often worn looped around the front of the neck, with the length dropping down the back – titillating (for the times) when worn with a backless dress! Exquisite chokers, rings and bracelets decorated with intricate filigree were also popular.
The trend in terms of gemstones was for pavé set fine diamonds, with little regard for cost; usually they would be cut into emerald, triangular or rectangular shapes and accented with calibre cut sapphire, rubies, onyx or emeralds.
Shop Twenties and Thirties Inspired Wedding Accessories:
1940’s – Think Old Hollywood Glamour
The forties veil was often moderately short (though perhaps a little longer than the birdcage of the previous decades), and likely to cascade from a pillbox hat or a relatively simple tiara. The era was more conservative and less extravagant.
Influenced by the war, the fashion was again less ostentatious, with jewellery kept modest. Much of the gold, platinum and silver were required to fund the war, resulting in military-inspired trends becoming fashionable. Synthetic or recycled gems became common, and embellishment became the new fashion of the times: bows and ribbons were incorporated into less lavish jewellery.
Shop Forties Inspired Wedding Accessories:
1950’s – Think Marilyn Monroe
Even twenty years later, the birdcage veil was still holding its own in the fashion stakes. By the fifties, the veil was either attached on one side as in the previous two decades, else set in the hair with slides or clips on both sides. Essentially, it was the shape of the veil that was most noticeably different, with the length mostly unchanged.
After the austerity of World War II, restrictions were lifted and fifties designs reflected this, becoming bold and ostentatious. Abstract shapes and mixed cut diamonds dominated the fifties, influenced by mid-century modernism. Textured gold became popular, including braiding, twisting, fluting and reeding. Turquoise was very fashionable in the fifties, as was amethyst.
Shop Fifties Inspired Wedding Accessories:
For genuine vintage wedding accessories, these websites offer some fantastic options:
Alternatively, try combing your local antiques centres, where there are some surprisingly good finds to be made.
If you found this guide useful, check out my other post about vintage shoes and bags.