When I walked down the aisle on a sunny afternoon in 2013 , so did the polka dot dress my mother wore 40 years ago!
From a small country wedding in 1973 to a 2013 Melbourne bash, my Mum’s dress enjoyed a little facelift thanks to the incredible talent of Kyha Simpson and One Day Bridal. I’d always loved Mum’s dress, but until my brother-in-law suggested wearing it, it had never crossed my mind. I chatted to Khya and while she loved the idea of re-imagining this polka dot beauty, she couldn’t make any promises before seeing it.
The first fitting was a hoot. Once Kyha saw the condition of the fabric she was confident we could use it. Being three-tiered was a bonus as there was plenty of fabric to work with which meant there were no limitations on the design. Initially I struggled to see Kyha’s vision – mainly because of those ginormous bell sleeves! It was a big moment when she asked if we were ready to pick up the scissors. There was no turning back after that, but once we lost the sleeves, I knew we’d be creating something incredible.
The One Day Bridal team then set about unpicking the whole dress so that we could use the outer polka dot fabric with new fabric underneath. We went for a V-neck front and back with cap sleeves and a fitted skirt instead of a full one. I loved Kyha’s touch of including the three lines along the skirt as a nod to the original tiers (plus it was a sneaky way to hide the seams where different fabrics were sewn together). I included my grandma’s brooch on the belt. She had worn it on her wedding day in 1946 and it’s been worn by nearly every woman in our family since (I think I was the 14th!)
When the big day rolled around I was so in love with what we’d designed. It was beautiful, fun and full of history. And being able to share the dress-making experience with Mum made it even more special. She was sceptical about how we’d be able to make the old thing new again, but was in awe of the end result. Two years on and the dress is packed away safely… if I have a daughter one day there may be another polka dot bride 40 years from now.
Alex’s wedding images by The White Tree
I was so excited about what we had created, but it was a bit of an unknown until we actually started the alterations! Here’s some of my thoughts that might help if you are considering ”something old’ or ‘something borrowed’ for your dress:
- Share your plans with the previous dress owner. If you hack the dress to pieces to only use a few inches of the fabric, that might not go down too well – or it might be fine. Just ask.
- Find a dressmaker/designer who you trust. They’ll understand the limitations of the original dress and have grand ideas for the new one!
- Look after old fabrics. Use a specialist dry cleaner and minimise the time exposed to light and air.
- Don’t assume it’ll cost less than a new dress. It might, because you’ll save on buying fabric, but the costs of labour and alterations can add up.
- If you don’t have a loved one’s dress on hand, you can still enjoy that sense of history by using an old hairpin, veil or jewellery. Who knows, you might start a trend that’ll be passed down for generations to come.
Ms Chinoiserie Says: What a special day for you Alex – and also for your Mum! Of course, we love the polka dots…. such a heartfelt way to include “something old”!
About Alex Miles: Hi, I’m Alex! I published my first play at age 17 – and since then have worn quite a few writer, producer/director hats!!! In my new book, Sixty Secrets for a Happy Bride, I offer advice on staying balanced and getting organized in the lead up to getting hitched!