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Vintage bridal style

PUBLISHED: 17:12 16 February 2014 | UPDATED: 17:12 16 February 2014

Cara-Lee Whyte and her vintage wedding dresses

Cara-Lee Whyte and her vintage wedding dresses

Rikard Osterlund

Fed up with every modern wedding dress you see? Then why not embrace the vintage trend and walk down the aisle in a pre-loved gown straight out of Downton Abbey?

Every bride wants her dress to be unique, but sometimes it seems the only way is to go bespoke; but instead why not ‘borrow’ from the past and breathe new life into a gown from another era?

Story Of My Dress was launched last August by Cara-Lee Whyte exactly for that reason: to offer something a little different, a one-off dress that is breathtaking yet also affordable and just waiting to start a new story with its modern-day bride.

The Bearsted mother of three’s inspiration came from wedding dress shopping with her best friend and feeling that there just wasn’t enough original choice in the shops. Her eldest child had also turned seven and, having been a stay-at-home mum since his birth, she was ready to spread her wings. Fashion was the obvious route: straight from school at 17 she’d gone to work for Karen Millen in Maidstone and her interest in the industry has never left her.

And so she entered into a period of extensive research on her favourite wedding dress designers, followed by what this self-confessed “real girlie girl” describes as a series of lucky breaks, but is actually canny use of social media and following up leads like a bloodhound. Don’t be fooled by the blonde sweetness.

Barely six months on, Cara has built up an enviable range of wedding dresses from the 1930s through to the 1970s, from the glamorous and elegant to the boho and whimsical.

Timeless in their beauty, the collection chimes in perfectly with the current vogue for all things vintage, helped by the latest version of The Great Gatsby hitting the big screen last year, the enduring appeal of Downton Abbey on the TV – and of course the timeless 1950’s-style gown worn by The Duchess of Cambridge on her wedding day.

Cara’s collection hangs on a sturdy set of industrial rails on wheels (made by an uncle with a metal fabrication company), which come in very useful for display at the vintage fairs she is attending with increasing regularity.

The added dimension of vintage is that each dress secretly has its own story, some Cara is able to tell because she has the verbal or documented background, others are simply up to the buyer to fill in the gaps as they dream of who wore it first, and where.

Cara is also now creating her own dresses from vintage patterns and fabric, using the services of Snodland dressmaker Gillian Andrews, who worked with her at Karen Millen.

She is keen to collect more designer samples, which can be amended by Gill to fit the girl who falls in love with them; modern waists tend to be on the bigger side than the sylphs of the twenties, for example, and the current collection only goes up to size 12

And one day soon she hopes to have a showroom filled with beautiful, affordable, one-off gowns. At the moment, however, you can catch her at vintage wedding fairs across the country – with the option of a having ‘pop-up shop’ in your local area if you are unable to attend any of the dates below.

Alternatively, if you or your family are interested in selling a wedding dress (nothing later than the 1970s), Cara would love to hear from you – and you’d be helping another bride walk down the aisle and cherish your beautiful gown all over again.

GET IN TOUCH

Cara-Lee Whyte, 07919154115 or Cara@storyofmydress.com.

www.storyofmydress.com

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