If your closet is starting to burst at the seams with a collection worthy of the film 27 dresses, you’ve come to the right place. Bridesmaids dresses aren’t cheap. Don’t let a well made dress go to waste. Even if it isn’t quite your taste, a few accessories or a little of bit of doctoring can help make it all your own. From re-purposing bridesmaid dresses into new DIY looks, to ways to tone down and re-wear a formal gown in the real world, here are a few options to help you make the most of your bridesmaid dresses.
Listen up brides. As a bride who is planning, please, make it a benevolent dictatorship by choosing chic, versatile, styles for your bridesmaids. Maxi dresses, sleeveless sheaths, convertible dresses, and two-piece styles are very wearable. Everyone loves a maxi dress for summer. A simple, solid, maxi dress can be played down with flat sandals and beach bag and sunhat, or dress it up with some heels and bold jewelry for evening. Simple sleeveless sheath styles in any color will look put together at the office, paired with a fitted jacket. Add a denim jacket to a lace look, playing down its formalness, for a fun spring ensemble.
Today’s modern two-piece formal looks are all about options. Two pieces really are better than one. Talk about versatility. You can be ultra sexy or tone down the look of a two-piece with a jacket or cover-up. There’s no better way to stay cool for summer. If you know you won’t wear it otherwise, go ahead, chop it. Cut a dress with a fitted bodice in half and make a two-piece. Kim Kardashian famously did this to her pink Dior dress on a whim, shortly before appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show. The bottom of a formal gown can be shortened to make a trendy tea length skirt, and cropped tops are all the rage. Try the top half as a chic top, finish the bottom or just tuck it into some black pants, throw on your heels and a blazer and you have a look that’s all about business.
If you’re an expert you might try totally restyling a piece.
With a bit of sewing know-how, a long skirt can easily be shortened with pick-ups ruching or shirring, and raw, cut, edges can be quickly finished on a serger. Or get out your old Girl Scout Handbook and brush up on your hand-sewing skills. With an iron and some matching thread, you’ll soon have a finished hem and new skirt.
Most bridesmaid gowns and dresses can also work nicely for proms, guests of the wedding, and for social events. However, if you know you won’t be wearing a dress again, consider donating. There are many worthy causes that give formal dresses to high school girls for prom season. If you absolutely hate the color but love the style, fabric dyes are a cheap, but messy way to change the look. But be careful, never use the dye in the washing machine. And from personal experience, the dye tends to washout unevenly. Luckily most contemporary bridesmaids dresses are designed with the practical woman in mind. Designers like Alfred Sung, Bari Jay, Bill Levkoff, and Mori Lee feature “wear-again” styles, and Dessy has a twist-wrap convertible “chameleon” dress which can be styled in hundreds of ways. There are even printed styles that bring a colorful burst to any wedding.
Whichever option you choose, anything is better than just letting a dress sit in your closet, tucked away in a garment bag. Whether you wear it again, re-purpose, redesign, donate, or even cut up into rags, at least your gown isn’t going to waste. And that’s something you can feel good about.