Photos By Kathleen Whittemore Photography & Photos by Diana Van Horn Photography
We are Jeannine Errico and Erin Buterick; the savvy, intelligent, supermodel-looking owners of School of Vintage. What is a ‘School of Vintage’? It’s a handmade and vintage boutique that specializes in bridal gowns and accessories. As you may have guessed, we are not your traditional wedding vendor. We’ve listed some some of the most common inquiries we get about vintage bridal and beyond. (And to see more Q and A, follow us on Facebook and check out the first column we did in the July issue of bay magazine, available online.)
Question: Did either of you sport a vintage gown as your “something-old” for your wedding?!
Jeannine: Surprisingly, neither of us wore vintage but both of our dresses were vintage-inspired. We had to do a lot of searching before finding looks we really wanted to sport for our big days. And just to clarify, we each had our own big day in which we married other people. It might seem crazy, but we’re not married to each other. Now that that’s out of the way, Erin wore lace (surprise, surprise!) which she accessorized with a lemon yellow cardigan and yellow heels and I wore a tea-length 1950s-inspired dress. There are not a lot of options for brides in this area, especially not for those looking for vintage. We would have killed to find a store like ours!
Question: What do you suggest for the rest of the wedding party, so you have a cohesive vintage look? I imagine it’s hard to find enough vintage dresses for the bridal party. What are some great vintage groom looks?
Jeannine: These are great questions and ones that are asked somewhat frequently. There are several options to choose from when wanting to incorporate vintage into the bridal party. Actually, the options are endless if you really get creative. You could have all the ladies wear a different dress of their choosing—all from the same era—or have them pick all different dresses from any era but in the same color. This idea is great because it allows the bridesmaids to find dresses that they’re comfortable with while still sticking to some sort of theme. It all depends on how much freedom you give them (remember, ladies, no one likes a bridezilla). Aside from dresses, you could make the bridal party cohesive with hair pieces: maybe each member of the party wears a different type (fascinator, clip, flower, etc.) or maybe each member wears the same vintage-inspired hair piece. Did you know that School of Vintage also makes custom accessories? Another really great idea is to adorn each girl with a vintage piece of jewelry, where each piece is different but boasts the same color rhinestones or something to that effect. Again, the possibilities are endless!
As far as vintage groomsmen...hmmmmm... Going with the theme of the bridal party, color- or era-wise, to bring the male outfits together, the groomsmen could all wear vintage ties, perhaps, or even vintage cufflinks. Bow ties and suspenders are really popular right now, so maybe these could match the color of the rhinestones in each brooch that the bridal party is wearing. You can really have a lot of fun with this and we are here to help!
Question: What is the absolute favorite wedding dress you had the pleasure of working on?
Erin: This question is hard. We can’t really pick one, but we love love love 1930s dresses. They are usually silk or lace and cut on the bias. Bias is harder to work with, but it just looks so stunning on the body. Usually, we don’t do much to 30s dresses, but there was this one with rotted lace that we replaced. We hand-sewed all of the silk leaf appliqués back on it, which was really detailed and took a really long time. So maybe that one is our favorite. (Once we finish writing this we’ll think of another one, but for now, it’s that one.)
Question: If my mother’s/grandmother’s vintage gown is ugly/outdated (or made post 70s) is there any way I can incorporate parts of it into a new one? How do you recommend or how would you go about doing that?
Erin: Of course! This all depends on the bride’s style and what she wants in her gown. It makes more sense to build a dress around the parts of the “ugly” one that she likes. So for instance, if she likes the full skirt of her grandmother’s dress, a new custom bodice can be made, or vice versa. The possibilities stretch as far as her imagination. I do find that matching modern fabric to vintage is extremely difficult (but not impossible!), so using as much of the original gown as possible is the best way to go for a cohesive look.
Question: Because vintage gowns are generally unique in size and style, how should a bride start her search? Is it simply walking in to every carrying store? Or is there a better way to go about doing it?
Jeannine: The first thing you might want to do is browse the ole internet for some style ideas. What colors do you like? Do you have a theme? What style of dress looks best on your figure? Etc. From there you might do some research on what stores are in your general area and in your budget. Sometimes you have to travel. We’ve had people fly in from out of town to try on our dresses. True story! We’re always like “Whaaaaaa? Are you sure?” They’re always sure and it’s usually great. We finally breathe again once they leave our store with “The Dress.” But, I digress. There’s no harm in walking into stores just to browse, but when you’re really serious, our recommendation is to make an appointment. This will ensure that you get the attention you deserve and you’ll have time to really dig into the inventory. Really communicate your wants and needs and don’t be afraid to discuss specific concerns. Our biggest recommendation is try on all different types of dresses. Time and time again, brides come in looking for something very specific and go home with something they never thought they would like. Keep an open mind, especially with vintage. If nothing else, you’ll get to play dress-up and have a great time.
Question: How would you help a plus size gal with vintage style? There is not a lot out there and usually the sizes range from Small to Medium and the quality
of clothing seems to lack when it comes to XL to XXL vintage clothing. I would love to see the details and fabrics for a wider range of sizes. Just sayin’.
Erin: We hear this so often! It’s true... to a point. It’s important to remember that sizing standards have changed over the years. For instance, a modern size 4 is about a 1950s/1960s size 12. We, as humans, have gotten a wee bit larger over the decades, and the sizing numbers have changed to accommodate that. That’s not to say that there weren’t XL and XXL women back then—that’s a common misconception! Larger vintage sizes are highly sought after and are hard to find. A vintage XL/XXL wedding gown is a rarity, so we completely understand how frustrating that can be for a gal who wants to wear vintage, but can’t find any that fit. As far as the quality, for larger pieces of clothing, more fabric is needed, which translates to more money. So perhaps to be cost-effective, women would skimp on the quality a little. In our experience though, this usually isn’t the case, and any XL piece we’ve found has been of good quality fabric.
We would love to see the details and fabrics on an off-the-rack piece for a wider range of sizes, but unfortunately that’s not something that can be changed. However, if you know a good seamstress...
In conclusion, your dress/accessories/overall look should be a reflection of YOU. Look like yourself on your wedding day, just in a really pretty dress. Keep an open mind when shopping and remember that even if something is trendy right now, it doesn’t always mean it’s meant for everyone. Also, your gown doesn’t need to put you into serious financial debt. It’s a special dress, yes, and it’s your day, yes, but think of all the amazing vacations you can take with that money you can save by shopping with frugality in mind. We promise you’ll remember sipping mojitos with your love by a pool in Fiji, not the extra lace/designer name/Swarovski crystal beads that you thought you so badly needed. Most of all, have the best time planning for and enjoying your special day!