Bibbidi-bobbidi-bye-bye: Recycling Old Formalwear

February 23, 2009 at 10:42 am 1 comment

Penelope, now that you have won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, what are you going to do with that dress? (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Penelope, now that you have won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, what are you going to do with that dress? (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

I am a sucker for an awards show.  In college my roomate and I would host an annual Oscar Gala in which we would dust off old prom dresses and eat food that was selected to coincide with the five nomonees for best picture.  (The year Crash was nominated I recall cutting a lot of celery to make “cars”)  

And, whether it be THE Academy Awards, or an event with more viscious paparazzi (read: my mother for homecoming or prom), after the lights have dimmed and the hair has drooped, a decision must be made of what to do with THE dress.  There are a lot of great uses for those yards and yards of fabric besides keeping them in the back of your closet.  A few ideas include:

  • Reduce: Don’t buy the gown in the first place.  Consider updating a thirft store find.
  • Reduce: If you are very talented, make your own dress from found fabrics or newspaper.  I recall seing a girl from West Allis that also did this.
  • Reduce: Rent a dress from a local bridesmaid or wedding shop. (From Ideal Bite)
  • Reuse: When you are done with the dress, consider donating it to a worthy cause.  Check out The Bridesmaid Party or The Glass Slipper Project to get your duds to a worthy cause.  Locally, there is also a Becca’s Closet chapter and The Boys and Girls Club takes donations for their Sista Pride Initiative (although I can’t find a press release with information on this years drop off sites yet.)  
  • Reuse: Consider making a patch work quilt ou to f all those shiny materials as a way to remember special formal events.  I have a good friend that could rival Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses and she made a beautiful blanket.  This trick also works well for the larger-than-life t-shirt collections people collect.
  • Reuse: Not too crafty?  Take it to a seamstress and create an heirloom piece like a christening gown from a wedding dress.
  • Reuse: Seamstress part deux: If you love the top of a dress, consider hacking off the skirt to be left with a formal top.  
  • Reuse: Make throw pillows 
  • Reuse: If you have a lot of material, you can easily make a Christmas tree skirt.  I did this with the train of my wedding dress and am quite happy with the result 🙂
  • Recycle: Fabric can be recycled if it is damaged beyond reuse.  

Do you have any other suggestions?  Please share!

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Recycle Raccoon


Entry filed under: Little Action, Recycling, Reduce & Reuse, Shopping. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. jpittam  |  February 25, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    These are great tips! I always bought my prom dresses from thrift and vintage clothing stores and now that I’m wearing bridesmaids’ dresses instead, the suggestions on organizations to donate them to will be a big help (especially as prom season approaches for high school juniors and seniors).
    – Jenny

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