5 Ways to Modernize Your Mother's Vintage Wedding Gown

Kate Holstein

Choosing to honor your mother by wearing her vintage wedding gown at your own nuptials is a beautiful way to incorporate your family into the big day. However, your wedding gown should reflect your personal style even if it was originally your mother's choice. Here are five designer–approved ways to modernize your mother's wedding attire for your own big day.

1. Customize the Color

Nothing says modern romanticism like a wedding gown in an alternative color. Designer Kathryn Conover is well versed in devising contemporary classics for her bridal clients, and favors adding pastels into her gowns for a dash of modernity. One of Conover's bridal clients asked the designer to update a gown worn by her grandmother in 1969, and by her mother in 1985. “Her 2015 version is a strapless gown with lace appliqués and a blush overlay,” explains Conover, as a pop of pink can mean the difference between staid and stylish.

2. Embrace Vintage Lace

If you want to pay homage to your mother's panache without overshadowing your own look, incorporate some of the gown's fabric into your ensemble. Beloved bridal designer Anne Barge suggests that vintage lace is the most suitable material for such a gesture, stating, “Lace can be taken from the vintage gown and applied to a mantilla style veil as well as be mixed with newer laces. The vintage lace can also be applied to the bride's gown, petticoat, handkerchief, prayer book, ring pillow or bride's book.”

3. Rethink the Sleeves

Wedding gown trends may come and go, but sleeve length and style often serves as an indicator of which decade a dress harkens back to. For example, the fashion industry embraced voluminous sleeves in the 1980s, Conover recalls. Removing these telltale details in favor of a streamlined strapless neckline or halter design can bring a gown into the 21st century, suggests the designer.

4. Say Yes to a Vintage Veil

Modernizing your mother's wedding attire may be as simple as gliding down the aisle in her vintage veil. Instead of attempting to update a complete gown, Barge recommends transforming a veil into an antiquity passed between generations of brides and customized by each one. “I love the idea of a family heirloom veil which is monogrammed at the hem with each bride's name and wedding date,” says Barge.

5. Adjust Your Neckline

Despite the fact that your grandmother may recall a time when brides wore fabric up to their chins and down to their toes, the fashion industry has embraced a host of new silhouettes for 2015. If you favor a modernized look, Conover recommends starting with a gown's neckline. Scrapping the mock neckline will take a gown out of the Victorian era and into modern day in one quick snip of the scissors, as will sculpting a sweetheart neckline or adding an asymmetric strap.

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