Monday, November 20, 2017


To get that 1940s screen icon look like Rita Hayworth with a bit of Gene Tierney thrown in, it helps to tune into films from the era. . I'll start by saying wedding gowns of the 1940's were influenced by two things: war and cinema. Both became inseparable once the war machine started and people all over the world looked to newsreels for updates.Vintage Brides Retro Wedding Hair and Makeup

Fabric was scarce, rationed and silk went for making parachutes. War brides (usually quick to marry fiances going off to war) had to make do with a best dress or a suit to tie the knot. Formal to-the-floor gowns were offered in the synthetic fabrics that were the newest thing. The classic silhouette of this era was an A-line with a V-neck and long sleeves usually in a high sheen satin.
What have we taken from this era and brought to today's wedding fashion? I'd say the screen goddess look of Lana Turner or Rita Hayworth in a white gown that had more to do with evening glam than bridal. But it all works—the red lips, long wavy hair, clean makeup. It's definitely a look that brides of today love and stalk every corner of the net to recreate...
  • Watch old movies like Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth and study the hair. Styles back then were big on glam with every hair in place. The pin-up girl from this era inspired voluminous long locks with waves.
  • Baby Doll, peep toe and platform shoes were the fashion, either as pumps or sandals.
  • Sweetheart necklines were born (a fave of Judy Garland & Deanna Durban, those young stars of backstage musicals). So were A-line gowns of transparent organza or chiffons worn over a slip dress.
Topping it all off, the classic 40's bride wore a diadem head piece out of pearls that held a flowing veil. Other headdresses of the day? Snoods, turbans and hair jewelry. Because some weddings had to be planned literally overnight, tulle and netted turban head wraps topped off with bows or florals became the quickly assembled head chic of wartime brides. Snoods especially popular for evening wear of this era held carefully paged hair in place like the one below.
Make up in the header photo by Julie Morgan Hair and Make Up

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Just off the work table, a couple romantic and beautiful additions to The Forever Boho Collection.  Directly below, The CELESTE Dress is a light and airy confection of silk chiffon, tea-dyed tulle and lace with a hint of blush.  The flutter sleeves of tulle are like wings falling into a light back ruffle. The front panel in Chantilly lace is ideal for shorter brides looking to create an uninterrupted, cylindrical line and heavier bodies looking for slimming options.
Above:  Close up detail of the CELESTE Dress. Below: The OPHELIA Dress.  Silk, tulle and handmade floral dappled over the neckline and body of the dress.  
Both these gowns were inspired by movies from the 1930s.  While each can sport the waif/storybook/ earth angel look and be worn with a head wreath of florals, add a longer veil or hair jewels and you have a more elegant golden age of Hollywood bride.  Absolutely love the versatility . . . . .

Thursday, November 9, 2017


Most brides wait till the gown is ordered before making a decision on a veil.  In addition to complimenting your dress, you’ll need to zero in on your body type.  For instance, petite brides want to create the impression of height.  Yes, petites can wear pouf veils as long as the volume up top doesn’t imitate an Indian-headdress, dwarfing rather than extending height.  Also if you’re short, a cathedral length veil isn’t the best choice—even a dropped version with zero density.  You can get the drama and extension you need by scaling down to a waltz or chapel length to fit your proportion.  Heavier and/or thick-waisted brides look best in a one layer dropped veil tacked onto a bun, falling in a swirl down the back.  Try keeping your lines back and delicate, avoiding elbow length veils with lots of volume.  Ditto veils edged in ribbon; they can form lines across the waist, creating width.  If you’re tall you’ll want to keep the poise of your height intact without going over the edge.  Go ahead and wear that cathedral veil with your long-trained ballgown.  But realize even tall, sylph-like women have limitations.  Princess Diana who was a stunning 5’10”, over-volumized her height her wedding day when she piled layers of tulle atop a dress already screaming of über-pouf.  Face it, we all have to work on getting the symmetry right.
 Generally, more ornamental gowns look best with simple veils, like one layer of tulle with narrow edging or no edging at all; whereas all over lace veils or ones edged with wide borders require a simple gown with little adornment.  Your dress might have some exquisite back details you want to show off.  If this is the case select a shorter veil like a fly away or net pouf.  Want a more romantic look?  Try a layer of tulle— preferably in a dropped style that doesn’t fall in creases and folds across your back.  Tulle is the best fabric for this; it’s transparent enough without being so opaque to fog detail.  If your gown has no train, wearing a chapel or cathedral length veil can create one—especially elegant when bordered in wide-edged lace or there’s a concentration of lacework on the train portion.

 If you’re in a long veil and want to remove part of it for the reception, have your salon work out the fastening system with you and whoever is helping you.  Taking off the entire veil?  Exactly when during the reception is up to you; it depends on whether you want to be veiled in photos cutting cake, toasting, dancing, etc.  Some brides wear their veil the entire day.  And I suppose this is because there is nothing quite like a white veil that says . . .  Today is the only day I will ever be a Bride.

Veils and gowns by Amy Jo Tatum
Photography by Pixamage
Hair: Salon Kao Vey
Mua: Necia Whitmore

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


First off, in your search, think gown over dress.  Why? Gowns are long and lean styles. Always keep in mind those gowns that make you linger and look a little longer than the rest—the ones that really grip your attention.  Do you love that empire waist because the model in the editorial looks great in it?  Or do you go for the higher waist because you instinctively know it would look great on you?  My best advise here is this: learn to really accept and cherish the body you have then train your eye and thinking to embrace styles that compliment your particular assets.  Pass up any looks you could wear if only you were taller, bustier, lost twenty pounds, etc.?  Target your flaws then minimize or camouflage them; always, always heighten your assets.

* a gown with a panel or seam(s) running up the front.  The unbroken lines give you height.
*Empire waists are one of your best options considering you go floor length.  You want to keep that vertical line going.
* A V or U-neck, it gives the impression of a longer neck.
*A mermaid.  If you’re slim and petite consider this style.  It’s fitted like an evening gown up top and has all the bounce and swirl of a ball gown below.
*An A-line.  Think of it as your very own scaled down version of a ball gown.
*Sheath and evening gown silhouettes, long and columnar; they will flatter you.
* length over volume in your skirt
*Sleeves that are long and straight.
* Best proportion is a floor length gown with veil or train of the same length.
*prints and laces as well as any motifs should be scaled down and worn on the upper portions of the body.  Busy designs below the waist  (even small ones) draw all eyes downward.
*Soft and sheer fabrics like crepe and chiffon that drape to the body.
*any ball gown.  The volume in the skirts will consume you.
*heavy, elaborate fabrics like brocade or any print or design that is large.
*Wide belts, sashes and cummerbunds interrupt the vertical lines you want to create.  If you do wear a sash or belt go thin (1-1 ½ inches) and as close to the shade of your gown as you can get.
*any design with big puffy sleeves or shoulder pads.
*Any train longer than a sweep. 
 Header Photo: A modified mermaid style with a silk gauze front sash that ties under the bust line draws the eye upward. (photo by Sweet Light StudiosPhoto 2: Another empire style in lightweight fabrics, elongates. The lightweight fabrics help reduce bulk. (photo: Carlene ImageryPhoto 3: A chemise in lightweight silks and scaled down laces also has a wide open neckline to draw the eye up.  Photo 4: An A-line in  small patterned lace organza.  Think of this A-line dress as a scaled down ball gown, giving modified volume.  Photos 5 and 6: Sheath and evening gown silhouettes--long and columar. (photos: Scott Williams Photography//Vetter Photography

Monday, November 6, 2017


The neckline frames your face and is probably the feature you’ll most concentrate on when selecting your dress. It’s the part of your dress that gives your face some wow! Because there are almost as many neckline options as sleeve variations, think of mixing both components as an opportunity to really create that one-of-a-kind dress. Front and back bodices though aren’t always identical. For instance, the front could have a Sabrina neckline, the back a deep V; whereas another gown could have a scoop in front as well as back.

Clockwise: Photo 1: Halter Neckline (photo: Stephanie Williams Photography). Photo 2: Sweetheart Neckline (photo by John T Photo) Photo 3: Square Neckline (photo Lirette Photography) Photo 4: Scoop Neckline////Photo 5: Turtleneck Neckline (photo: Pixamage) Photo 6: V-neckline (photo: Samantha Brancato)


Turtleneck-Once a classic, the high neck or turtleneck can be a plain band of dress fabric or lace.  Especially popular in the Edwardian gown craze of the 70s when cotton ‘granny gowns’ reappeared.
Mandarin-Like the high neck collar only it’s notched in front
Cowl-draped either as an attached piece or integrated into the pattern.  Lots of retro styles of the 1930s use this effect.
Jewel-Aka crew neck, round and higher neckline.  Not seen too much these days except in an overbodice of all-over lace.
Bateau  or Sabrina-Straight across the neckline
Scoop-Low rounded neckline
V or U-These necklines point down just like the letters they are named after.
Off-the-Shoulder-Neckline extends horizontally across and sits below the shoulders.
Portrait-Wide band that extends from shoulder to shoulder
Square-One of my personal favorites, conveying a real open look, square necks look great on long and A-line silhouettes.
Halter-Straps either wrap around the neck or neckline is high with deep armholes.
Strap-Usually holds up a strapless bodice.
Asymmetrical-Neckline falls diagonally-one side strapless the other either with sleeve or sleeveless.
Queen Anne-High neckline curving into a sweetheart around the décolletage area
Sweetheart-Plunges into an open heart shape.
Keyhole-Open tear-drop.
Strapless-Either cut straight across or sweetheart shaped, the strapless is held up by boning inside the bodice.

Right to Left: Photo 1: Asymmetrical Neckline (photo: Strotz Photography) Photo 2: Bateau or Sabrina Neckline///Photo 3: Cowl Neckline (photo by Aura O'Brien)
All dreses by Amy Jo Tatum

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Believe it or not, the halter we see in so many bridal collections evolved from early 20th Century swimwear. Golden Age Hollywood designers popularized the look for evening, dressing stars like Garbo and Harlow. Actually the look was so radical and daring back then, tongues clucked as the etiquette police of the time declared, 'no nice lady wore such things out at night'. Ladies had different ideas though and wore the back-baring halter anyway. Halters once again made their comeback big time in the 1970s with the return of glamour and disco. During this time Cher's designer Bob Mackie took advantage of this look to bring out her best lines. Thanks to the ages, we have so many variations on this abbreviated neckline. Here are just a few stunning examples.
All Dresses and headwear by Amy Jo Tatum//Top photo: The MARILYN Dress//Photo 2-3: The FLEUR Dress and cocktail hat///Photo 4-5: The YOLANDA Dress

Monday, October 30, 2017


What could say bridal more than a cloud of soft tulle? Defined, tulle is a fine mesh netting with a hexagonal pattern that comes in silk, cotton, nylon or acrylic/silk for power netting. Tulle is familiar because it's the standard material for bridal veils. But did you know it comes in lighter versions and is used in bouffant skirts. The one pictured above proffers that ballerina look Vera Wang popularized a few years back? While the big tulle skirt is classic, edgier versions of late suggest special effects like draping, ruching and pick-up treatments over more modified skirt silhouettes. There are many different tulles and uses of it. Below are some stunning examples. 
Tulle is one of those versatile fabrics that performs beautifully in head chic.  The pouf above and classic veil below are great examples . . . . 
 Shirred tulle over a bodice of Chantilly lace. Check out the corresponding tulle skirt . . . . .
Photos 1-4 by Vetter Photography
Photos 5-7 by Bride Chic
Dresses by Amy Jo Tatum

Monday, October 23, 2017


If nothing says bride more than a veil, check out the lace mantilla--the veil thought by some to be the epitome of veils! There are a few ways of wearing a mantilla. Because this veil lacks density, you can fold it over into a layer and tack it to the back of a bun. You can also literally drop it atop your head and wear it over the face or further back with or without a headpiece. Plastic or metal combs sewn to the center can secure the veil in place. How about an alternative to a traditional mantilla? Try a mock mantilla veil, which has low dense gathers and is cut into one or two tiers. Lace is then added to the
 edges. A cascading mantilla is another option and has a top layer worn over the face. For a really extraordinary effect, Alencon, Chantilly or Venise lace can be hand beaded
Photography . . . . . . Pixamage Photography
Veil. . . . .Amy-Jo Tatum
Makeup . . . . . . . . . Necia Whitmore
Hair. . . . . . . . . Kao Vey Saephanh

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Talk about awesome shooters, this incredible shot by Samantha Bracato deserves an award.  Taken at The Gatsby's Bride shoot, I'm stunned by her capture of forms in relation to light, space and a respect for overall composition.  Thanks you Sam for your talent of bringing the best to this project and for such beautiful inspiration . . . . .
The GEMMA Dress and Lace Mantilla Veil by Amy Jo Tatum

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


That who just happens to be me!! Okay, so let's suppose your wedding is next month and you need that gown now? Or you love the sample but it's just been discontinued? Or else you love the sample but can't afford to special order it? You do realize next season a whole new stock will be arriving? This means your salon needs to get the old out of the way. And all those gowns with full skirts just hanging there take up space, or haven't you noticed? While sizes are limited and samples mostly run sizes 6-8-10, the good news is, sample markdowns usually go half off, sometimes less. Some salons have sample sales they advertise a couple times a year while others offer marked down stock continually. Absolutely love that gown you just tried on? Offer to buy it. Yes, that same gown. Ordinarily samples are not for sale but this may be the time they're moving in all those spring confections, especially if it is in less than perfect shape, which, more than a few samples tend to be.
Now, a word about wear and tear: Before you start bargaining, check out how much or how little that soon-to-be-yours gown has been tried on by others. This means really looking at it inside as well as out. Is it ripped, stained, the hem soiled and need cleaning? The overall condition of most samples has a lot to do with how the salon takes care of their stock. Still, figure on dry cleaning whether the gown looks like it needs it or not. After a good clean and press it will seem revived both inside and out and take on a new life of its own. So the question is, who pays the cleaning bill? In some cases, the more service oriented the establishment, the more accommodating they'll be. As for alterations, you might save them for when and if you have your gown customized. If you are customizing, any nipping in of the waist or shortening of the hemline might have to wait anyway.
Photo 1: The Arielle Dress///Image via Photo Chic
Photo 2: The Tiffany Dress///Image via Strotz Photography
Photo 3: The Olga Dress/// Image via Photo Chic
Dresses by Amy-Jo Tatum

Monday, October 16, 2017


It's like a jolt to the solar plexis when I glimpse these beautiful images of the wine country from times past. Going through files of photos on the computer, I'm reminded of the gorgeous countryside and towns now engulfed in flames, looking much like a ravaged war zone. These are a small representation of the many shoots and weddings we've done in the wine country. Our hearts go out to all the folks in Napa and Sonoma Counties, some losing everything they had. Praying for my family and all the families as well as businesses going through this very sad time . . . .

Thursday, October 12, 2017


I was glad when my VALERIE dress was featured in a shoot out at Triple S Ranch in Napa by photographer, Pearl Hsieh Photography.  The floral crown by Green Snapdragon |pairs up so beautifully with this tea dyed tulle and Chantilly lace hourglass silhouette with a V-neckline. There are five layers of tulle atop a rosey beige satin underskirt. Shantung buttons line the center back. of this gem .Ideal for the bride who is zeroing in on a mash up of boho and vintage 1950s
Photographer: Pearl Hsieh Photography, LLC |  | Makeup Artist: Bun Bun Bridal Lab | Floral Designer: Green Snapdragon | Cake & Desserts: La Vie Douce Design | Event Venue: Triple S Ranch |

Monday, October 9, 2017


Some curator on a reality show I was watching addressed the issue of what it was like to be the first time owner of one of those lovely dresses from the 40s-50s era.   "I didn't know it was going to be so scratchy on the inside . . ." she confessed.  My rebuttal to this was, well, maybe that's why you see women in 50s movies stripping down to either full slips or some form of rubberized basque underneath it all.   No way could they stand some of these gems next to their skin.  Most vintage dresses like the one above, (I own it), leaves much to be desired inside.   Let me say the outside work is impeccable, the waist bows and piping are perfectly applied as is the skirt.  Inside however, someone forgot to line it using pellon to stabilize the bodice, leaving raw seams and a waist gathered with scratchy crinoline.  Of course the first thing I did to restore this gem was line the bodice in silk and tape the waistline.     

The dress below is another gift from one of my husband's parishioners.  Bought in a San Francisco department store in 1952 for $250.00, this tea-length ice blue and eggshell tulle beauty was worn with a mini veil.  Zippers from this era were metal and very visible.  Sometimes installed into the left side of a garment rather than down the center back, it caused the left side to bulge in some cases. It has been hard to keep this dress restored as tulle over time falls to tatters with one touch.  For that reason I use it as a display piece to remember Estelle who has passed on.  I tried this dress on myself and believe me it is a gorgeous piece.  Not me in the picture . . .
If you really love vintage and want to wear something authentic either on your wedding day or to some important event, be aware manufacturing techniques back then were different.  The invisible zipper  that simulates a flawless seam just didn't exist back then. In some dresses circa 30s-50s you'll find seams pinked (simply cut with pinking shears)  or zig-zaged rather than lock-stitched. If you're a purest or plan on wearing your vintage find more than once, find an expert in restoration.  Ideally, one who loves vintage will relish working on authentic pieces and share your vision.

Photos 1 and 2: JohnTPhotography