Style Me Vintage: Book Review

Book Review by Lucy Stendall, the genius behind Lucy Stendall Photography.  Thank you so much for writing such a brilliant review, Lucy!

Style Me Vintage: Weddings: An Inspirational Guide to Styling the Perfect Vintage Wedding by Annabel Beeforth

Photograph is copyright of Love My Dress

The ladies here at AOW know me. They know I love vintage and that I love weddings. So when they told me they had been sent a copy of Annabel’s book about vintage weddings to review for this blog, I pretty much snatched their arms off to take on the post as a guest writer.

I should add before I go on any further that I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I have pretty strong opinions about vintage. I’m the person who gets mild rage in Wilkos when I see a cushion tagged as vintage that is made in China, out of polyester, with a moustache pattern on. Wilkos, I love you, but I don’t come into your store for vintage, I come for cheap toiletries and cleaning products. And your cushion isn’t vintage.

Some might call me a purist. I’m not sure how I feel about that label, it’s not as if I think you can’t mix influences from different eras. I just believe in authenticity, and weddings that are true to a couple’s loves and lives. The recent fashion for vintage that has spilled over into the most unlikely areas of our day to day life to the point that even Wilkos ‘does vintage’ is baffling to me, but ultimately if more people now have afternoon tea and embrace a bit of bunting, it doesn’t do any harm. Nobody dies.

My issue is this. For me, vintage isn’t a trend, it isn’t something to do because I think it makes you look cool and it isn’t something I’ll give up on if something else becomes cooler. A big part of me doesn’t want to be mistaken for someone that does think that.

So I was a tad disappointed to read in the introduction that this book probably won’t appeal to vintage purists. Did this mean that it would be style over substance? Would it be watering down the authenticity of what vintage means by trying to appeal too much to the mainstream and trends? I can confidently say that the short answer to both of these questions is no. And in some ways I liked the fact that the author was upfront about this because it gave context to how I read the rest of the book and it gave the book focus when it could have easily run away with itself and become a bible like tome. 

Style Me Vintage is one of a series of books written by different people covering topics from hair and make up to tea parties and clothes. Annabel Beeforth, who writes Love My Dress blog, has added her book about weddings to the collection.

The main body of the book is divided by era from Edwardian to 1970s. Each section starts with a short summary of some of the historical events from that period and how this influenced wedding trends at the time. There is a nod to a handful of real brides from each era with delightful period photographs to demonstrate some of the key bridal fashions. After this blast from the past, the pages that follow focus on the modern day bride and how she might take any of the elements from the period and adapt them for a modern day wedding using modern suppliers. There is a particular emphasis on the bride’s outfit which may come as no surprise given the title of Annabel’s blog and her obvious passion for era gowns. The book achieves this using Real Wedding features and also with beautiful styled photo shoot images by Joanna Brown using models to help guide the reader with tips and inspiration to incorporate the theme into their day through fashion, beauty, decor and details.

What does the book do well?

The quality of book for the money is obvious – I liked the textured hardback cover which begs to be picked up and the smooth thick and glossy pages inside. With wedding magazines costing around £5 a pop, the book’s RRP of £15 for something you can keep and re-read or pass on represents good value for money. It is also small enough to fit into a tote bag and take with you for your commute, lunch break or to take along to supplier meetings.

As you would expect from a coffee table book, the styled photo shoot images throughout the book by Joanna Brown are beautiful. The styling decor, props, hair and make up have all been thoughtfully done and are lovely to look at without falling back on all the obvious clichés which can be associated with vintage.

With the book’s non purist framework in mind, there are some great examples of how to take the vintage theme and apply it to a modern day wedding, with things like stationery. There is also a real mixture of vintage and vintage inspired dresses, so there is something for most tastes and budgets in each section.

Everyone loves a Real Wedding feature, don’t they? It appeals to the nosy parker in all of us. I am a self confessed wedding addict and have seen most of these weddings featured online, but they are good examples and I enjoyed seeing the photographs again and reading the brides’ tips.

It was lovely to see that some of my friends had been involved in the book: Unforgettable Vintage, Eliza Claire and McKinley Rodgers Photography. Also the band who played at my 30th birthday party have made it into the Suppliers directory, hooray!


And in the spirit of full disclosure, what did I think could have been done better?

Inevitably with a book of this size (it is less than 200 pages) there tend to be generalisations about weddings from each era rather than comprehensive details. On balance I think the way it has focused on a few key differentiating trends to give brides ideas suits the short format but if the book had been longer I would have liked it to have gone into more detail. But then I am very greedy.

I didn’t really agree with all of the suggestions about which body shape suits which era style of dress. For example, I’d say that drop waisted gowns from the 1920s are perfect for apple shapes without defined waists. Then again, I think brides are savvy enough to simply try different vintage dresses and work out what suits them.

There are several pages about fragrance through the ages at the end of the book which seemed a little bit out of place to me in relation to the rest of the book. I think there are other things that would appeal to more readers, vintage rings perhaps?

So, who should buy this book?

This is a gorgeous book and each and every person involved should be proud of what they have achieved, especially Annabel herself who has successfully juggled this project with running a wedding blog full time.

The book would make a lovely gift for a newly engaged friend who loves vintage style, or as a resource for brides who are setting out on their vintage wedding planning journey. I can also see a lot of my fellow wedding industry suppliers stocking the book in their studios for consultations with brides and grooms. I know that I look forward to sharing my copy with my couples.

And where can you buy it?

Published by Anova Books

RRP £14.99 available from most online book retailers including Amazon.

Disclosure: this is not a paid sponsored post but a complimentary (and beautifully wrapped!) copy of the book was sent to Any Other Woman for the purposes of this review.

Categories: Books, Sponsored Posts
2 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted June 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Great, very comprehensive review Lucy! I am completely with you on the vintage purist thing, again, not to be snobby about it, but some things, especially new things, just aren’t vintage. I feel the same when people use antique to describe things that were produced 20 years ago!

    • Posted June 17, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Kerry! I really enjoyed the book and writing this review.

      Totally with you on ‘antiques’ from the 80s and 90s, haha!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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