Business: From Vintage To Contemporary, Lower Cape's Only Bridal Shop Has A Gown For Every Wedding

By: Debra Lawless

Topics: Business

Jessica Kidd in 2021 wearing the gown that her mother Carol Tallant wore in 1980. COURTESY PHOTO

The moment that her boyfriend proposed to her, she knew that she would be modifying her mother’s 1979 wedding gown and wearing it to her own wedding in 2012.

“It was the first vintage redesign I ever did,” Jessica Kidd said during a telephone interview last week. “I redesigned it to fit and modernized it.” Although Kidd’s mother Carol Tallant passed away before Kidd’s wedding, “she was there in spirit. It was very sentimental to be able to wear” her gown.

Until six years ago, Kidd lived in the Washington, D.C. area and worked for a clothing designer making custom wedding gowns, couture lingerie and foundation garments. Since Jan. 9, Kidd, 39, has owned Vintage in Vogue Bridal at 47 Main St. in Orleans. Prior to that, she managed the store for its previous owner, Maureen Leavenworth. (In November the store’s name will change to Coastal Bridal Boutique.)

This year is forecast to be the year of 2.5 million weddings, the most since 1984, according to the trade group Wedding Group. In comparison, 1.93 million weddings were held in 2021.

“It’s a lot of lost time for those brides who have been waiting and waiting,” Kidd says. She adds that weddings now are scheduled not just between the traditional June and October, but year-round. And weddings are not just on weekends – they’re on weekdays, too.

Vintage in Vogue Bridal, which opened in 2020, is the only bridal shop on the Lower Cape. And it differs from other Cape Cod shops in that it offers vintage gowns as well as new gowns. “We didn’t have a down season during the winter,” Kidd says. She is currently altering 30 wedding gowns. On the weekends she books two-hour appointment blocks for brides to try on gowns. The store has two employees as well as Kidd. She is looking for a manager.

Vintage in Vogue Bridal is now expanding into new products. The store will carry the gowns of the designer Rosa Clara, which “mimic a ‘70s ‘boho’ kind of vibe,” Kidd says. It will carry Madi Lane Bridal gowns which Kidd says are “whimsical” and beloved by local brides. And it will carry Justin Alexander gowns. The store has Savannah Miller gowns that take their cue from styles of the 1930s.

“We are a naturally eco-friendly and sustainable business,” Kidd says. “We don’t participate in fast fashion – even the new designers we currently work with custom-make each gown as to not add to the overproduction.” (“Fast fashion” means rapidly-made, high-volume production.)

The store carries vintage gowns dating from around 1900 to the 1970s. (Gowns from the 1980s and later don’t sell right now.) The oldest gown in the store dates from 1890, and was worn in a wedding in the 1990s. Every gown for sale here is “wearable.” The store regularly has a selection of 1930s gowns with the look of old Hollywood.

“They’re gorgeous, very sleek,” Kidd said. It has 1940s gowns – “very popular with satin.” Gowns of the 1950s are Dior ball gowns. The simple column style of the 1960s is coming back, while the 1970s gowns are the most popular look.

During the pandemic, some brides and mothers-of-brides ordered multiple gowns online. They wore one, and then consigned the others, still with their tags attached. The store is now stocked with spring and summer formal wear for the mothers of the brides and grooms, and also outfits for wedding guests, less formal clothing than that worn by members of the wedding party. The store doesn’t cater to bridesmaids “in a traditional sense” but has “tons of consigned dresses.” A recent trend for bridesmaids is for the entire group to dress in the same color, or color palette, but not the same dress.

Most vintage gowns are small, only up to a size six, or occasionally eight. The vintage gowns had no stretch as they lacked elastic and the fabric itself had no stretch. Kidd can alter them up three sizes.

What if a gown needs panels inserted to make it larger? Where do you obtain the fabric? Most old gowns had a lot of fabric in the dress or the dress’s train. Dresses of the 1940s and 1970s had “enormous trains. I could cut a small portion to make panels in the bodice of the dress,” Kidd says. Sometimes people donate vintage gowns to the shop, and these gowns are “used for parts” such as notions and buttons. All alterations are done in house.

One recent bride loved the 1940s liquid satin fabric so much that she bought a vintage gown and had Kidd use it to make her a contemporary asymmetrical gown.

While vintage gowns can be to some extent altered for size, Vintage in Vogue Bridal carries sizes from 2 to 26 in its new dresses.