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Timeless Beauty: Vintage Wedding Gowns

Going vintage? According to Rhiannon Macbeth, owner of Portland’s Garb-Oh Vintage, anything goes when it comes to which decade flatters the modern bride. “With the Gatsby look still in vogue, brides can re-create the look of a beautiful flapper from the 1920s,” says Macbeth, who also loves the “form-flattering and slinky” look of 1930s gowns and 1940s dresses that incorporate a Victorian spirit. As for the ultrafeminine looks of the 1950s with their corsets and crinolines? “There’s a certain playfulness that’s a little bit sexy and a little bit princess,” says Macbeth, whose Etsy vintage store opened last year.

When buying online, it pays to do your homework on dresses with history. Macbeth suggests buying only from a reputable dealer; sellers with positive feedback won’t sell pieces with perspiration stains, fabric rot or other condition issues that can affect older materials. Trusted sellers are also familiar with vintage sizing and can help the bride determine which gown will fit and flatter her form, as well as give advice on how to wash and preserve the specific dress and fabric. Macbeth explains that unlike new bridal gowns, which are often stored in plastic, vintage gowns need to breathe and should be stored in something more open, such as a box or suitcase.

Macbeth suggests visiting one of Portland’s many vintage bridal boutiques; she’s especially fond of the selection at Xtabay Vintage Bridal in Southeast Portland and Eve in Eden in the Pearl District.