Twelve steps to perfecting vintage bridal makeup

Finding the perfect wedding dress is a very big part of a bride’s preparation for the wedding. But any bride-to-be knows that her makeup will have a large part to play in completing the look.

Bridal makeup for a modern vintage look needs to be both subtle and sophisticated.

When we recently photographed our new Sally Lacock separates collection, bridal makeup artist Catherine Bailey shared some of her tips for creating a radiant bridal look that pairs beautifully with the soft flowing lines and textures of vintage-inspired lace.

How to perfect vintage-look  bridal makeup. Photo: Alice Whitby.

How to perfect vintage-look bridal makeup. Photo: Alice Whitby.


1. Apply a primer

Start by applying a primer where needed. A primer evens out your skin’s surface and helps your makeup last. Catherine’s current favourite is Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (£26) which fills out fine lines and smoothes out pores.


2. Use your fingers to apply foundation

Apply a sheer foundation with a foundation brush and then blend with your fingers. “The warmth of your fingers will help the base to ‘melt’ into your skin,” says Catherine. She uses Liz Earle Sheer Skin Tint (£21). “It’s dewy, mineral based and suitable for sensitive skin.”


3. Conceal

“Use a well-pigmented concealer such as Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer (£18.50) to hide any under-eye shadows, which can look very blue or purple in photos,” says Catherine.

Avoid very light-reflective concealers for the under-eye area as they can give you ‘panda eyes’ with flash photography. Then cover any blemishes using a matte, densely pigmented concealer like Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (£26) on a fine brush.


4. Highlight

Smoothing highlighter in a ‘c’ shape across the tops of your cheekbones and up to your temples will catch the light and give your face more dimension in photos. Catherine used Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (£33) which gives the skin a beautiful luminosity.


5. Subtle, shimmering eyes

For the eyes Catherine used a simple wash of a pale shade with a subtle iridescence all over the lids, a slightly darker shade in the socket for depth, and a ‘pop’ of a very light shimmery shade on the inner corners.

“Dior’s 5 Couleurs ‘Incognito’ palette (£40) is a set of five soft neutrals which I often use on brides,” says Catherine.


6. Flick out eyeliner

Catherine carefully brushes on a line of gel eyeliner or a very dark eye shadow along the upper eyelids only. She then ficks it out and up slightly at the corners.


7. Double-up on the lashes

To get eyes that look open and fresh, lashes should be gently curled – twice. Then set them with two coats of a very good quality waterproof mascara. According to Catherine, “this stage is vital!”


8. Fuller brows are better

Catherine recommends filling in any sparse patches in your brows with an eyebrow pencil or powder such as HD Brows, applied with light feathery strokes.

She then fixes brows in place with a brow mascara or strong hold hairspray applied on a disposable mascara wand to ensure they stay neat for the photos.


9. Line your lips

Lining lips with a neutral lip pencil evens out the shape and prevents lipstick from bleeding.

“Use a good quality lip brush and carefully apply your chosen lipstick, blotting gently between layers with a tissue so it lasts longer,” says Catherine.


10. A touch of blusher

For a gentle rosy glow, Catherine blends a little cream or powder blush into the cheeks. She prefers using Chanel’s powder blusher in ‘Discretion’ (£31). “It’s a delicate peachy-pink shot through with a very subtle shimmer,” she explains.


11. Powder for shine free photos

To set the makeup, Catherine then dusts the bride’s face all over with face powder. “This stage is absolutely essential when being photographed”, she says. “Even the slightest bit of oil on your face will make you appear greasy and shiny in your wedding photos – definitely not a good look!”

For a bit of extra glow, Catherine suggests a light dusting of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (£38). “It works wonders.”


12. All set with setting spray

For makeup that lasts all day and night, Catherine recommends misting your face with a setting spray. She uses Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray (£20).

Though there are quite a lot of steps involved, the final result is a natural, radiant bridal look that pairs perfectly with feminine lines and delicate lace. And it photographs wonderfully. To look at the full shoot, visit our bridal separates collection.

Catherine Bailey trained at The London School of Beauty & Make-up. Pop over to Catherine’s site or send her a mail at


A bride’s guide to vintage lace

There are so many reasons to fall in love with vintage lace – and to declare your love whilst wearing it.

Initially worked by hand, making lace required incredible attention to detail. Though it was made according to a pattern that might be replicated, each piece of lace was essentially unique. The process demanded perfection, was painstakingly slow and incredibly delicate.

As far as textiles go, lace was once the ultimate luxury. With its rich history of handcrafting, its detail, variety and delicacy, even modern vintage lace remains among the most romantic and nostalgic textiles. No fabric is better suited for a wedding dress. Here we give an overview of the kinds of lace most often used to make wedding dresses.

Mechanical lace making

A mechanical Leavers lace machine.

A mechanical Leavers lace machine.


During the Renaissance lace was regarded an element of prestige, signifying both the fashionability and wealth of its wearer.

Making only a small strip of lace could take months. Because it was such a labour intensive process, lace was initially used only in parts of garments or accessories, for example collars, cuffs and shawls.

However, since the invention of the Leavers mechanical lace machine in the early 1800s, which for the first time was able to reproduce lace handwork, lace has been used more abundantly.


Lace and wedding dresses

Though machine made lace was already available in the mid-19th century, Queen Victoria famously commissioned her dress to me made from handmade lace. Over 100 lacemakers toiled for half a year to make her white lace dress. Though she would not have been the first to wear some lace to a wedding, Queen Victoria helped to establish lace as a wedding dress staple.

A number of royal weddings since have continued the tradition of getting married in lace. Lace also featured frequently in Edwardian and later flapper-era gowns.


Modern vintage lace

Very little authentic vintage lace survives. But the patterns and craftsmanship have thankfully been preserved. As a result, there are nearly endless varieties of lace still being made. The Lace Guild has an extensive list of these and is an interesting read.

But not all lace is made equal. Though now mostly machine made, as with all fabrics, some lace is still far superior to others.

The world’s finest lace is made just across the channel in Northern France, a region with a rich legacy of lace making. This is where great couture houses including Chanel, Chloe and Dior source their lace from and where the lace used on Catherine Middleton’s Alexander Mcqueen wedding gown was made. These exact same mills make the lace for our Sally Lacock dresses . This French leavers lace is perfect for creating the soft unstructured look of a boho inspired lace wedding dress.

These are among the most popular lace types used in wedding dress making:


Chantilly lace

Our 1930s inspired Elsa dress is made using French Chantilly Lace.


Chantilly lace is said to have been a favourite of Marie Antoinette and is the lightest and most delicate lace of all. It is made up of an abundance of fine threads on a very fine net ground with subtle yet intricate detail.

This lace perfectly suits the lightness and freedom of the 1920s style sometimes with beaded embellishments to add weight, or the elegance and grace of the sleek 1930s look.


Corded lace

These elegant classic wedding dress laces, sometimes also known as Alencon lace, are formed by outlining areas in the lace using a heavier thread or cord, giving a three dimensional look. These are often used in the structured ballgown style dresses of the 40s and 50s.


Cluny lace

Usually made of cotton threads with an even thickness this lace is very reminiscent of the 1970s. It is made with geometric shapes and closely woven motifs. It suits a boho type dress with a country-chic style.


Guipure lace

Guipure lace has a continuous motif which creates a denser pattern than with other laces. It is normally quite firm to touch and commonly contains a floral or geometric design. The motifs are held together with links rather than net, leaving gaps between. Perfect for 1960s shift style dresses.


Flounce lace

Our Violet, Edwardian dress uses Flounce lace at the border of the sleeves and hem.


Flounce lace has a deep border at one edge of the lace with the pattern graduating as it moves up the net.

This is beautiful on a column style where the border can be placed at the hem giving a natural weight and definition. Flounce lace can look wonderful on an Edwardian style dress like our own Violet or Emmeline lace dresses.


Allover lace

As the name suggests, this kind of lace is patterned all over often with no obvious top and bottom. It is mostly cut and used as a fabric rather than a trimming. We use allover lace in our Elise dress and for sections of our Carly dress.


Embroidered lace

We made a custom veil for our real bride Antonia, using vintage lace passed down to her.


Not strictly lace, embroidered lace is net or tulle with embroidery applied on top. This style suits an Edwardian dress particularly well. This technique is also often used on veils, like the vintage heirloom piece we used on our real bride Antonia’s bespoke veil.

We achieve an authentic vintage look by mixing different laces together, choosing antique hues, careful application, cutting and hand stitching to form delicate embellishments or edgings and sometimes mixing antique lace and trimmings in with the new lace.


Each lace dress is made individually and to perfection. We spend a lot of time on every garment and many of the details are finished by hand to ensure that the dresses are infused with the same care and love that has gone into choosing them.

Press: Love My Dress

There was a lovely piece on Love My Dress blog this week featuring Our Bride Kathryn’s beautiful Whitstable wedding. It is brimming with inspiring details so grab a coffee, have a read and swoon!

lace wedding dress by sally lacock

Real Bride Rae

We were so thrilled to receive these beautiful pictures of our bride Rae on her wedding day in July. Rae fell in love with the Violet Edwardian style lace wedding dress as soon as she tried it on and chose to accessorise it in her own cool style with an Edwardian leather and silver belt.

Edwardian wedding dress by Sally Lacock

vintage lace wedding dress by Sally Lacockvintage wedding dress b Sally Lacock


Happy New Year Promotion

To celebrate the arrival of 2015 we are offering a 30% reduction on the price of a silk lace edged veil or a luxury sheepskin shrug, with all made to measure dress orders placed before 30th January.

Vintage style Cate lace dress and veil by Sally Lacock

image credit: Laura McCluskey


image credit: Alice Whitby