For some brides the hunt for ‘The One’ isn’t about acres of tulle, diamante belts and tiaras. When your style errs on the side of vintage, it can make finding the perfect wedding dress even more stressful, as you find yourself lost in a sea of contemporary styles that just don’t feel very ‘you’. Fortunately, London is home to some of the best vintage bridal shops in the world, each of them offering the most beautiful of blasts from the past.
With your perfect man found but your search for the perfect dress only just begun, here is our lowdown on our favourite vintage haunts across the city to help you on your way.
Elizabeth Avey, Greenwich
Elizabeth Avey was borne from a little girl’s obsession with her grandmother’s 1940’s and 1950’s tea dresses. Since opening in 2008, this vintage heaven has become synonymous with bygone elegance, attracting brides who are each looking for something totally unique amidst the store’s expertly sourced collections. Each vintage wedding dress is handpicked by Elizabeth, before being professionally cleaned and restored, and finally joining an ever-changing collection that spans the eras.
Vogue regularly appoints Elizabeth Avey for commissions and sourcing of vintage styles, and the vintage wedding wear expert is a go-to for stylists of period dramas, books and newspapers looking for gorgeous gowns to perfectly fit an era. Edwardian hand-worked lace, 1920’s flapper styles, 1930’s satin and 1950’s tulle and tea dresses; if you’re looking for vintage style, immaculate quality and impeccable customer service, you would do well to start your search here.
Belle & Bunty
If you’re looking for vintage style and contemporary cuts, award-winning Belle & Bunty has plenty to offer. Run by friends (and Instagram babes) Alice Shreeve and Hannah Coniam-Thompson, Belle & Bunty stocks modern vintage inspired wedding dresses that have attracted the attention of publications including Vogue, Marie Claire, ELLE, Conde Nast Brides and more, plus a whole host of celebrities including vintage aficionados Lauren Laverne and Fearne Cotton.
Belle & Bunty’s designs focus on the feminine and flirty, bringing the elegance of bygone eras and merging it with perfect fits to suit today’s figures. Exquisite lace and 100% pure silks are expertly crafted together, with the designers proudly manufacturing all styles in Britain.
Whether you’re heading for a boho elopement on a beach in the Balearics or rolling out the red carpet for an opulent stately home affair, Belle & Bunty has a dress to suit all settings.
Fur Coat No Knickers
We could easily love Fur Coat No Knickers for its name alone, but there is so much more to this veritable trove of vintage bridal treasures. Before setting up shop in 2008, Fur Coat No Knickers’ founders spent over 15 years as costume supervisors for West End theatre. Now, they dedicate the same service to transforming brides as they did to preparing actors for the limelight and have built up a reputation as experts in 1950’s fashion over their 7-year history.
Inside the store, you will find a combination of original vintage and vintage inspired wedding dresses, with an eye for fit and customisation exercised at all times. Fur Coat No Knickers specialise in 1950’s and 1960’s style dresses, so expect to find lots of full tea dresses and waist-cinching belts.
From their flagship boutique in London’s Oxo Tower Wharf, Candy Anthony have built a reputation as one of London’s go-to designers for tea-length gowns with a 1950’s and 60’s ‘High Society’ edge. While the boutique doesn’t stock original vintage, its designers create original gowns in quality fabrics and with exceptional attention to detail. Brides are known to visit Candy Anthony from across the world, lured by the promise of vintage style and bespoke detailing.
On the rails of Candy Anthony you will find everything from polka dots and bold florals to Nottingham Lace and sleek satin. With gorgeous handcrafted accessories to match, plus the bridal holy grail of perfect wedding shoes, we can see why Candy Anthony attracts a dedicated vintage-fan following.
With incredible lace, buttery soft satins and champagne sequins draped across its rails, the Jane Bourvis boutique in Notting Hill is a fairy tale come true for those who appreciate the exquisite detail that went into bridal gowns of a bygone era. Jane Bourvis specialises in restoring antique wedding dresses and the result is a 1920’s and 1930’s collection filled with ethereal embellishments that wouldn’t look out of place at a Gatsby soiree.
Even Kate Moss, who has the world’s designers falling over themselves to dress her, counts Jane Bourvis amongst her favourites.