Over the years, vintage clothing has seen a rise, with people around the world conscious of the global impact of fast fashion and high street purchases. Seeing a gap in the bridal market and after witnessing a close friend try to sell her unaltered wedding dress, the idea of a business came to mind of Chantal, Sisters Closet founder.
Can you tell us the story of Sisters Closet and the inspiration behind the brand?
The story of Sisters Closet starts while my husband and I were on our honeymoon. As we reflected on our year of planning and our wonderful wedding day, he asked if I’d ever consider starting a business.
The first thing that sprung to mind was helping brides buy and sell preloved wedding dresses. I always felt these dresses should be more accessible and not just available online.
When I was searching for my wedding dress and considering a preloved David Fielden gown, I found it very time consuming going through the various website listings, and ultimately gave up the search.
The traditional way of buying a wedding dress is visiting a designer atelier or independent bridal boutiques. It’s an experience that many girls look forward to when they start the planning.
I couldn’t understand why there weren’t any of these physical spaces around selling preloved dresses. Lots of brides want to buy a preloved dress and that shouldn’t mean they have to compromise on the overall shopping experience. So, I decided I would recreate that same environment of a traditional bridal shop but with preloved designer wedding dresses.
We’re lucky enough to be in a time where couples getting married have virtually free rein over their wedding day. You can get married on a beach, in a barn, at a trendy restaurant or even in a repurposed shipping container. The same goes for bridal fashion, it’s effectively a carte blanche for whatever you decide to wear. We also live in a time where sustainability is important, and upcycling is actually pretty cool. People value and protect their income a lot more these days and want to see their money go further. I believe buying a preloved wedding dress embraces all these new attitudes, and I want to champion this by making it more accessible and mainstream.
What do you think are the most important things a bride should consider when choosing their gown?
I think it’s important for a bride to consider her own personal style when choosing a wedding dress.
Forget what’s trending and what the bridal industry says is fashionable for a moment and think about how you like to dress.
Most women know what clothes make them look and feel their best. If you wouldn’t go strapless even in a swimming costume than it’s likely you won’t be comfortable wearing this style wedding dress. If you don’t wear dresses much in your everyday life, then you might consider looking for the minimalist and more relaxed shaped gown styles. A bridal pantsuit would also be a fabulous alternative.
Also consider the fact that you’ll likely be wearing the dress for 12+ hours. Comfort is key! Make sure when you’re trying on dresses that you walk, sit and dance in them. Some tight-fitting mermaid style dresses can restrict you sitting down or even walking backwards (tip for walking away gracefully practice taking a step forward and then walking in a little circle and away - works every time.). Off-the-shoulder dresses can sometimes restrict you from raising her arms. I had a friend who had to get the top of her dress completely altered so she could join the dancefloor at her reception.
Finally consider your budget. It’s so boring but it’s so true! Remember to include the cost for alterations, undergarments and a dry-cleaning service post-wedding in this budget. Even a new made-to-order gown will need some level of altering, be it on the length or the fit. Most bridal boutiques and brands do not offer this free of charge, so make sure you ask for an estimate before making the purchase. Undergarments are so important to ensure the dress fits nicely and comfortably. I’m not talking about pretty lingerie here, I mean the likes of seamless nickers, tit tape and Spanks. You might need to buy several different options because until your final fitting you won’t know exactly what will work best. However, if you buy a preloved dress, you get to take it home right away which means you can shop for undergarments as well as shoes and accessories more easily. Lastly, dry clean your dress as soon as possible after the wedding. Resist the temptation to shove it into a closet because you’re more likely to neglect it and any stains will be more difficult to remove. Whether you’re planning on have it as a keepsake or selling it preloved, it’s important to preserve it.
Do you have any tips for bride's looking for the perfect dress?
Think about where you’re getting married. Let the aesthetic of the location and venue you’ve chosen influence your dress style. Practically speaking, if you’re planning a destination wedding somewhere hot then look for light and flowy fabrics to keep you cool and comfortable. If the ceremony and reception are in different locations with a car journey involved, consider fabrics that won’t easily or show any creasing.
Preloved wedding dresses is a resource for brides who are conscious of their budget but big on style, and it’s virtually untapped at the moment. Many of the dresses are in pristine condition and you’d never know they’d been worn. Sometimes, they haven’t actually been worn or altered at all. If you find a dress that you love, look for it on the preloved market. You could very well find the exact same design or something very similar for a serious bargain. This leaves you with time and money to spend elsewhere on the wedding or your bridal look.
Also, don’t be afraid of making alterations. Whether it’s a preloved or new dress you’re buying, making small alterations can make a big impact and help achieve your perfect design. You could change a neckline, lower the back or cover any unwanted or unflattering sheer panels. These are relatively simple alterations so if you find a dress that meets 90% of your wish list then consider making a few simple tweaks. It could mean the difference between finding that perfect dress or having to continue searching.
Are there any styles you currently love?
I think styles come and go, plus there’s so much variety to choose from these days. What I love most is seeing how brides make a style their own.
That said I do love a statement piece. Backless dresses are great, and they continue to evolve, I’m constantly seeing new variations on the style.
I like the bridal separates a lot because they offer brides more flexibility. Detachable skirts and trains are always showstoppers and give you two different looks in one dress.
I love the way bridal capes are giving the modern touch to the otherwise traditional styles. They’re available in so many different fabrics, including fun fringes and feathers. They give great textures to a bridal look.
We love the idea of balancing traditional and contemporary looks. Can you tell us how this look could be achieved?
With preloved dresses this balance comes quite naturally. Paying less on the dress means you can invest in order elements like fine jewellery, shoes or even a second look.
There are so many preloved dress styles available, from proper vintage to recent designer collections.
Small alterations are an easy way of making a traditional dress feel contemporary again. Once again, creating a backless dress or shortening the front hemline of the dress are simple ways of making a dress feel modern.
Adding a jewelled jacket or a fake fur shoulder wrap, in a soft colour would be very fashionable. These are great investment pieces that you can commission with the money saved from your preloved dress.
Describe the Sisters Closet bride.
She’s not afraid to trust her gut or be different. Someone who wants to look fabulous on her wedding day but without forking out the average cost of a designer dress. Knowing she saved money on her bridal look without compromising on her style means #smugface on the day.
More important than someone who’s completely confident in her dress sense is having an open mind. This means being willing to try different styles (or a combination of) to achieve a bridal look that’s just right for you.
Do you have a favourite style?
I’m definitely a massive fan of combining traditional and contemporary looks. Designer and high street, and classic with a statement touch.
Ballgowns and A-line dresses will always be classic bridal styles but I’m excited by new interpretations; like having a high slit on the skirt, the oversized bow on the shoulder or lace shorts under layers of sheer tulle (a la Chiara Ferragni in Dior).
Like I mentioned, I’m also loving a bridal pantsuit. The look is really sophisticated but with major party vibes. I guarantee you’d get more wear post-wedding so for me that’s worth investing in. There’s the option of having a preloved gown that is more traditional for the service and then change into something modern, like a pantsuit for the party.
In terms of new trends, I’m seeing a lot of polka dot fabrics mixed with floral patterns on dresses for spring/summer 2019 which can’t help but make you smile.
Do you have a bridal style icon?
There are too many to choose, every bride has her own personal look and for that reason they are all beautiful.
However, three celebrity bridal looks do spring to mind because they were unique for the bridal fashion trends at the time, and most importantly they reflected each bride’s individual style.
Jessica Biel’s ballgown from Giambattista Valli Haute Couture in 2012. The colourful floral pattern and multiple layers of delicate tulle was unique at the time. It gave the classic silhouette that modern edge.
Then there’s Kim Kardashian in Givenchi 2014. Love her or not, she nailed that bridal look in Florence. The open back and lace cut-outs played to Kim K’s sex appeal, but she kept it very elegant with the all over lace and high neckline. She essentially elevated her signature look for the occasion which is a very good tip for everyday brides.
My final choice is Olivia Palermo in Carolina Herrera back in 2015. She wore a mix of bohemian inspired separates combined with a natural hair and makeup look. It was relaxed, effortless, chic and proved that you don’t have to be tailored to within an inch of your life to look like a modern princess on your wedding day.