We’re officially in the thick of wedding season — that time of year when social calendars everywhere are filled with a string of events leading up to the big day. While celebrating your loved ones’ nuptials are of absolute importance, it also requires a well-stacked assortment of outfits for the special occasion (and dress code requirement). Rather than shop the picked-over selection at your favorite in-season department store, there are a myriad of vintage and secondhand options to find wedding guest dresses — you just need to know where to look.
“There are so many great reasons to thrift,” Sky Pollard, Head of Product for secondhand hub Nuuly tells NYLON. “I think finding something secondhand or even vintage can lend your look an air of authenticity and uniqueness.”
Among the buzzy new platforms and well-curated vintage boutiques setting up shop on Instagram are category specific options, like the West Coast-based gem Happy Isles Salon with seemingly endless inventory of evening gowns and dresses that are wedding-appropriate. For something that dates back to a specific time period, Dirty Fabulous Vintage has you covered. The point is that, as niche as it may sound, sometimes your secondhand shopping journey requires you to get specific in order to find what you’re looking for.
“It always felt wasteful to me to spend money on items for particular occasions but I also wanted to show off my personal style,” Pollard continues. “Prior to launching [the site], I found myself turning to vintage or borrowing from friends to dress for occasions. What I love about Nuuly is that I can borrow items for all of the events in my life like weddings without breaking the bank or adding to my already-stuffed closet.”
For those that aren’t sure where to begin on your search for vintage dresses ahead of your summer wedding(s), we’ve compiled a starting lineup of secondhand shopping destinations to ensure you’re on the right path. Read on for more.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Happy Isles Salon
The Los Angeles-based Happy Isles Salon can only be described as your favorite shop’s favorite dress shop. Established in 2016, it has become a go-to destination for bridal dressing with a social media feed embedded with a mix of nostalgic moodboard posts and try-on videos of everything from 1920s flapper dresses to sequined evening gowns. Expansive selection of white dresses aside, shoppers will also find an array of wedding guest-appropriate styles (in a range of sizes) through the decades that you’ll wear beyond the big day. But if you want to peruse its tulle-filled racks both virtual or in-person, you’ll have to book an appointment first.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Singulier MTL
The small-batch vintage shop Singulier, founded by Montreal-based Elif Filyos, is revered among influencers and editors alike for its well-curated collections. Filled with slinky styles from the ‘90s, retro swimwear, and footwear, the boutique’s inventory also offers an assortment of romantic dresses that will double as wedding guest looks and long-term icons in your wardrobe. From floor-length slip dresses to draped caftans with a bias cut, there are a number of options to choose from to dress you up for the whole wedding weekend.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Dirty Fabulous Vintage
Just one look at Dirty Fabulous Vintage’s Instagram feed will tell you everything you need to know about what the shop has to offer, and its bio specifies right off the bat that pieces hail from between the 1930s and 1980s. From there, you’ll notice distinctly dated dresses with ultra feminine silhouettes and romantic details that are still so timeless today. Though the women-owned boutique is located in Monaghan, Ireland, it boasts a fully-flushed website and offers shipping worldwide, so you can shop its selection of dresses from wherever you are.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Arcade
If you’re a fan of the popular vintage trade show with a cult following called A Current Affair, then you’ll love the new(ish) boutique it’s backing located in the heart of Brooklyn’s booming Sunset Park neighborhood. Surrounded by a host of restaurants with bars on one side and a bakery-coffee shop hybrid on the other, Arcade is tucked away in the up-and-coming community for creatives, Industry City. Colorful dresses galore — and outerwear to go with it — are available for purchase for those who want to make a major fashion statement at any wedding party.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Toots Vintage
A favorite of Mirror Palais founder Marcelo Gaia, the whimsical shop Toots Vintage, founded by Michael Phillips, has everything. From vintage pantalettes sets circa the 19th century to slip dresses that can double as gowns for any upcoming nuptials on your calendar, while shoppers will find that most of the pieces at Toots are perfect for fun daytime weddings, they have a solid selection of silk-satin and velvet evening dresses that are great for after hour ceremonies and receptions. Even if period-focused pieces aren’t your thing, you’re bound to find a style that will transcend both seasons and trends, with ease.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Pandora Dress Agency
Those familiar with London’s vintage market scene know that Pandora Dress Agency (just minutes away from the historic Harrods department store) is an absolute must. The small location is filled with racks of free-flowing gowns and printed dresses that make for great wedding guest attire, especially on the rare chance that you’re attending a wedding overseas and need something fabulous on the fly. However, contrary to the name, this hidden gem doesn’t only have a well-curated selection of dresses and gowns: Think of your favorite runway collections from the last 20 years and you’re guaranteed to find it at Pandora.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Dora Maar
If you’re looking for a secondhand option that feels a little more modern, e-tailer Dora Maar is a great place to start. From its well-stacked designer list to the curated edits straight from the closets of industry insiders, the site founded by Lauren Wilson is offering consumers a new spin on luxury. You can even dwindle down the selection to show styles according to the occasion. For instance, if you’re headed to a destination wedding, you may opt for a less-formal daytime dress, while those in the evening category will prove to be much more suited for black-tie ceremonies with a dress code that encourages full-length gowns. The point is, regardless of the feel of your impending engagements, you’re bound to find something worth purchasing.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: I Am That
There’s a good chance that you’ve come across at least one of I Am That shop’s posts’ on Instagram, whether you realized it at the time or not. Boasting more than 106K dedicated followers, the curated vintage store has a little bit of everything, including a selection of effortless dresses, some of which are embellished while others are emblazoned with playful but timeless prints that will prove to be quite versatile in your closet well after wedding season.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Nuuly Thrift
What sets Nuuly Thrift apart from similar secondhand shopping online experiences, according to Pollard, is its use of data science, which helps with merchandising and recommendations for its users. “There are so many listings and items for sale, it can be overwhelming to browse and find what speaks to you,” she tells NYLON. “Our merchandisers partner with the data science team to understand what attributes can ladder up to product recommendations.” Personalization is also key to those who use the peer-to-peer online marketplace. The best part? You can then pass along your wedding guest outfit to another shopper by selling it on the platform in exchange for “Nuuly Cash” or a share of the sales straight to your bank account.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Xtabay
The team at Xtabay has over twenty years of experience under their belt, which is one of the things that sets it apart from other vintage shops on the market with large followings. Founded in 2001 by Elizabeth Gross, the boutique is known for its regal cocktail dresses suited for a variety of weddings you have on the docket. As a child, the Portland native recalls fashion always fueling her interests, whether it was drawing extravagant ball gowns or imagining opening her own shop since the age of 16. Gross boasts a background in bridal attire, as well, since she previously used to own a salon specifically for vintage wedding dresses.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Farfetch (Pre-Owned)
For those who don’t know, the e-commerce giant known for carrying luxury fashion has quite the vintage assortment, as well. Citing what year each piece is from in the product title, Farfetch has brands like Dior, Chanel, and Oscar de La Renta on the roster. But if you’re looking for something that will only ring popular with the fashion set, consider opting for one of Thierry Mugler’s iconic designs, instead. Of course its pre-owned category extends beyond dresses, with handbags and other occasion-specific accessories that shoppers will need to complete their look.
Where To Buy Vintage Wedding Guest Dresses: Ivia Retró
As a reflection of the boutique’s Miami origins, Ivia Retró is chock full of colorful cocktail dresses designed with warm weather in mind. Its collections also feature many iterations of the Y2K styles that were everywhere in the early aughts. Apart from the obvious options on offer, the well-curated shop also has a fair selection of coordinated sets that can be dressed up for a beach-bound wedding. In short, Ivia Retró is the place to go when you’re looking for something festive to wear to a ceremony and reception this summer.
Shop some of our favorite wedding guest dress picks, below: