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Feb / Mar 2012
Dress Memoirs

Writer: Maya Khoury

For something so intimately associated with joy, the wedding dress is a rather sad thing. Many brides (myself included) spend months looking for the perfect gown and for many of us, it’s the most expensive, extravagant and beautiful piece of clothing we’ve ever bought. For most of us, it’s the most expensive dress we’ll ever buy. 

But then, having exquisitely served its purpose, that gorgeous gown is left hanging dejectedly in the back of your wardrobe. With a life span of a single day (even the poor gastrotrich, the world’s shortest living creature, gets three glorious days in comparison) I wonder if we haven’t taken this whole finding-the-perfect-dress thing a stitch too far? It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are our tips for making your dress last longer than a day.

1. Save It

Perhaps the most conventional choice (and probably the route your grandmother took), clean it and pack it properly so that it stays intact thanks to the magic of mothballs, for grand-daughters to come. Why granddaughters? While there’s a slim chance your daughter won’t mind wearing Mummy’s dress, perhaps making it look a little more contemporary, rivalry means it’s more likely your granddaughter will appreciate its vintage appeal. Alternatively, you could always wrap her bridal bouquet in some of your fabric.

2. Alter It

Depending on the style, this option can work wonders. Sometimes a simple dye job will be enough to create a look fit for a fancy ball. More revolutionary still, cut away the dress part and keep the beaded bustier, then surprise your husband one day by wearing it with a pencil skirt and blazer. See if he notices. Make him pay when he doesn’t. It’s a perfect way to guilt him into buying that new pair of Jimmy Choos.

3. Sell It

Though off-loading the dress that sealed the deal on your perfect day might give guilt pangs, you can take your dress to a wedding shop. If they manage to re-sell it, you’ll get the proceeds minus a consignment fee. Alternatively, you can do it yourself and post your dress online using all-purpose sites, think Craigslist or eBay, or somewhere more specific (yes, there really is a as well as a You’re definitely not alone. Feel better, now?

4. Trash It

Also known as ‘rock the frock’, this trend has become wildly popular recently. Basically, you do a photo shoot in your wedding best, but shot somewhere your dress is completely out of place. Traditionally it’s water, mud or paint, though I can think of a few more ‘interesting’ settings too. The possibilities are endless. It may not be the most practical (or lucrative) option but it’s great fun, plus you’ll get some awesome photos (and truly memorable souvenirs) out of it.

5. Cut It

If you thought the idea of selling the dress was hard, you may as well stop reading now. Still here? Good because this idea’s an ingenious and gutsy one. Take a pair of pinking shears and snip, snip away. Use some of the pieces to decorate your wedding album, or maybe to cover the card mat surrounding framed photos and lastly lock a piece in a pendant. As heirlooms go, it’s difficult to get any more sentimental.

6. Donate It

I saved the best and most socially aware option for last. There are loads of great causes that accept used wedding dresses. Some sell the dress and use the proceeds, others donate it to those without the means to buy or rent one. While emotional attachment might make it difficult for you to give your wedding dress away, the joy this act will bring to others is compensation enough.

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