Local experts share their tips to find a diamond in the rough.
Wearing vintage is a romantic, not to mention sustainable, way to add a timeless touch to your wedding. But the rewards of shopping in the past don’t come without some challenges. We asked Elizabeth Gross of Southeast Portland’s Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique and AlexSandra of North Portland’s AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium for their tips:
- Measure Up Gown sizes vary from decade to designer, but inches never lie. Measure your waist, hips and bust before making your purchase.
- Damaged Goods Most damage or poor construction can be repaired. But avoid a dress with major pit stains—they’re the one blemish that can’t be masked. If you’d like a second opinion, ask to take the dress to a dry cleaner before purchasing.
- Get Creative Consulting with a seamstress who specializes in vintage will help you customize your gown (shortened, altered, dyed, sleeveless, etc.).
- Remember Your Unmentionables Foundation garments were essential in past decades. Corsets matching your gown’s era are ideal—check Etsy or eBay for vintage deadstock pieces or listings “new with tag” (NWT)—but Spanx also do the trick.
- Don’t Be Fooled Verify when it was made to avoid buying a reproduction. No tag? Look for AlexSandra’s “typical signs” of an era:
- Hook and eyes = Victorian era
- Snap closures = 1910s–1920s
- Metal zippers = 1930s–1950s
- Nylon or plastic zippers = 1960s–1970s
AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium Gowns: 1880s–1960s | Services: Alterations, restyling, consultations, lingerie, sewing classes, shipping
Xtabay Vintage Clothing Boutique Gowns: 1920s–1960s | Services: Alterations, consultations, shipping
Clark County Cleaners (360.574.6608); Oak Street Cleaners (503.652.5954);
Tip Top Cleaners (503.234.4101, tiptopcleaner.com).