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 covered veils and jewellery, and to complete the outfit, this week I’m looking at shoes and bags. It may be that as a bride you choose not to have a bag for your wedding day (I didn’t – that’s what bridesmaids are for!), but no outfit is complete without shoes. And if you are rocking a vintage look, this will be half the fun!
1920’s and 1930’s – Think Gatsby Glamour
Shoes – Shoes tended to be relatively simple, typically Mary Jane style, with a rounded toe and modest heel of just an inch or two. There may be some intricate detail where the strap joined the shoe, but otherwise heels would typically be the only part of one’s outfit not to be lavishly elaborate.
(It is worth noting here that a hugely fashionable item that goes hand in hand with shoes, is the seamed stocking. They became trendy in the twenties and remained so into the forties and fifties.)
Bag – The fashion of the times was small, highly ornamental (heavy beading was once again common), and often inspired by the Art Deco period.
Inspiration – Vintage Bridal Accessories
Shop Shoes – Girls of Elegance
Shop Bags – Beloved Bridal
1940’s – Think Old Hollywood Glamour
Shoes – In keeping with the reserved attitude of the forties, footwear was similar to the previous decades, with Mary Jane trends common, perhaps with a T-bar if the ladies were feeling adventurous! (It was not unusual to see a slingback and slightly higher heel if the women were inclined to go really wild, and colourful shoes were also popular.)
Bag – A slightly larger envelope-style bag worn on the hip would be typical of the forties. Alternatively, a dressier evening bag might be similar in size and made of fabric, with a clasp opening, and embellished with beading.
Inspiration – Vintage Dancer
Shop Shoes – Girls of Elegance
Shop Bags – Vintage Bridal Accessories
1950’s – Think Marilyn Monroe
Shoes – Pumps became sexier in the fifties, with open sides and perhaps a peep toe (for which the trend was a slightly pointier shape during this era). Heels were tending more towards the stiletto in style, becoming higher and more slender, which had the effect of a shapelier calf; and with full skirts ending just below the knee, the overall impression was alluring and coquettish.
Bag – The handbag of the fifties was functional as well as fashionable, and the size increased to be more useable. The strap shortened from over the shoulder to over the forearm, and worn with gloves this is a very typical image of the fifties.
Inspiration – 50’s Shoes on Pinterest
Shop Shoes – Tiger Milly
Shop Bags – Rock My Vintage
There are of course, one or two other items which epitomise the look you are trying to achieve, and you may like to consider including some of them in your outfit. However, keep in mind that the difference between sophisticated glamour and tacky fancy dress is keeping it classy with key pieces; avoid the pitfall of being non-discriminative and gaudy.
You may wish to consider a pair of gloves, a brooch, or a pair of period glasses, if you wear them. However, I have not included these in my guide since they all come with their own complications: gloves leave you with a dilemma during the exchanging of rings; brooches leave holes in beautiful fine fabrics; and glasses may ruin your make-up (and potentially your photos too – risk that taboo gaudiness at your own peril).
If you missed the first two parts of the series, you can check out what style of dress is typical for your chosen era here, and where to buy your veil and jewellery here. The next instalment in the series will cover hair and make-up, and the final part will help the man in your life nail his look to ensure he doesn’t let the side down!