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If you’ve ever had the privilege of standing next to a bride on her big day, you have one. It’s probably floor-length, maybe chiffon or organza, “not bad” looking, and definitely shoved in the back of your closet. A bridesmaid dress is often a fun reminder of cherished wedding moments and flourishing relationships. Additionally, with how pricey bridesmaid dresses can be to purchase and alter, these gowns can end up being one of the more luxurious garments in our wardrobes. 

Despite the sentimentality, value, and beauty they hold, because bridesmaid dresses are bought and tailored towards a very specific event, it is difficult to find other places to wear them. Of course there are other options like reselling or donating these dresses. But beware, resale can be time consuming, especially when choosing platforms like Poshmark and eBay. Sell-back shops like Plato’s Closet, ThredUp, or Buffalo Exchange are often more convenient and offer cash on the spot for gently worn, current styles. If your dress is mildly stained or ripped, know that the garment may be declined. 

Donating a bridesmaid dress can seem like the charitable option- before you do, consider the possible outcome. With these gowns being so specific to an individual bride’s special day, and altered to each bridesmaid, the chances of a bridesmaid dress being bought secondhand are lower than other garments. This being said, there is a high probability that any given bridesmaid dress ends up in the landfill after years of sitting on a thrift store rack. If you want to donate a bridesmaid dress, look locally for organizations that work directly with bridesmaids or prom-goers to dress affordably on their special day.

Looking at all these options while taking sustainability into account, it is worthwhile to consider further altering your castoff bridesmaid dress. We always profess that the most sustainable wardrobe is the one you already own. Perhaps, the gown you wore as a bridesmaid wasn’t exactly your first choice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it into something that’s right for you! Dress alterations are wide ranging so this sustainable fashion tip could be a fun way to add some personality to your wardrobe.   

Taking that old bridesmaid dress back to a tailor or sending it to a top online tailor could save waste from the landfills and save room in your closet. Avoid an organza, velvet, and/or taffeta black hole in the back of your closet- try these three alterations to revitalize the bridesmaid dress that’s full of potential!

First Revitalizing Bridesmaid Dress Alteration: Raise the Hem 

Hemming is probably the most common alteration bridesmaid dresses need so that they are ready to go on your bride’s big day. Often this alteration is necessary so the bridesmaid dress remains long, usually kissing the floor, while not becoming a tripping hazard. The floor-length style of a dress is a big factor that contributes to it’s “fanciness,” which is a big obstacle when trying to wear an old bridesmaid dress to other events.

Consider taking some more length off the bottom and transforming your gown into either a midi or even a mini dress. This works with any dress, but is particularly great for multilayered, flowy dresses. Taking the hem shorter than a full length dress tones down the formality of the dress just enough so that it is welcomed at brunches, baby showers, birthday parties, and even other weddings!

Second Revitalizing Bridesmaid Dress Alteration: Taper the Sides

Changing the silhouette can be a little more complicated when it comes to alterations, but can function similarly in making a dress more versatile. This works well when altering bridesmaid dresses with fuller skirts. Think more exaggerated silhouettes like ball gown, a-line, and empire cut dresses that, depending on the material, could be tapered to a column, sheath, or trumpet style. Losing some inches in the circumference of the skirt will make the dress more manageable while maintaining the level of formality. Your new silhouette will be perfect for black tie events, galas, and more formal weddings. Reach out to a top online tailor with inquiries about changing the silhouette of your bridesmaid dress.

Third Revitalizing Bridesmaid Dress Alterations: Upcycle 

Upcycling is defined as adding value to an otherwise useless item. In the case of the bridesmaid dress, more value could be added simply by using the dress, somehow. If you dislike the color or the details of the dress, consider turning it into something else completely. Perhaps you would like it more if it were just a skirt, or maybe a fancy top? You could even try both and wear them as a two piece outfit if your style changes in the future.

Other easy ideas include things like tailoring it to be a dress-up gown for kids or turning it into a child’s quilt- both will result in priceless pictures! The sky's the limit with the things that can be done with the fabric from a bridesmaid dress. Everything from pillows to scarves and hair accessories, use your imagination and talk to a top online tailor with your ideas!

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