Wedding dress.

Breathe life into your bridesmaid dress

Does your wardrobe remind you a little of Jane from 27 Dresses?

Filled to the brim with beautiful old bridesmaid gowns and glamorous frocks, or even your wedding dress? Each worn just once on that special occasion and likely to never again see the light of day… you are not alone.

It is alarming how many great items of clothing we have bought for one big event (or been given to wear) that have had only one measly outing. BUT all is not lost - you CAN make these beautiful dresses into something that can be worn again!

The average Scottish household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes, but wears only 70% of them each year. That is a lot of neglected clothes hiding at the back of our wardrobes.

Many of these unloved items are probably outfits bought for weddings. The Best Scottish Wedding Directory recently reported that the average Scottish Wedding in 2014 cost £20,723, with thousands being spent on stunning gowns for the special day. These quality purchases are built to last more than one wear (and on most occasions their cost reflects this!). So we think it is time to channel Jane - known in the movie for taking care of everyone and everything - including her 27 dresses. Her eclectic collection, deserves, like yours to be worn more than once!

We recently talked three beautiful ladies into letting us play around with their dresses to do just that. Our bride Dyan loved her wedding dress but with it being white she couldn’t see how she could ever wear it again. Emily’s bridesmaid dress was a pale pink colour and Robyn’s green silky number needed a bit of a face lift for her to party in.

We enlisted the help of Scottish fashion designer, Karen Mabon; she set to work taking Dyan’s stunning 50s inspired white gown and spray painting it hot pink! Then she teamed it up with a sparkly top to create a fun funky look to be worn day and night.

Designer Karen Mabon spray-paints Dyan's wedding dress.

A simple change transformed Emily’s gown from a pale pink strapless dress to a stunning asymmetric evening gown – perfect for the festive party season. Karen tied the ribbon from the waist over one shoulder for a super-quick fix. And then recommended Emily simply purchase a black or red dye that can be easily popped in the washing machine to make it a more appropriate colour for the Christmas season.

Robyn’s silky green dress was cut in half; a basic waistline was added to the bottom part and some netting sewn in underneath to give that on-trend ‘prom’ look. This was teamed with a casual polka dot shirt to create a classic city chic look that wouldn’t look out of place parading along the streets of Manhattan on SJP.

Designer Karen Mabon studies Robyn's green bridesmaid dress.

The top half was transformed with a simple hem into a bustier which would look perfect with jeans - two new outfits from one dress which had been banished to the back of the wardrobe!

Check out the finished gowns in our feature on STV Glasgow.

So dust off those gowns, and follow these few simple upcycling tricks to help you create a whole new look:

  • Change the colour – store bought fabric dyes are simple to use and transform any dress.
  • Accessorise – a simple and easy addition can give you a whole new look with minimal effort.
  • Change the shape – move the bow, cut off the sleeves and make simple adjustments to hemlines to lower and shorten dresses.
  • Layer – add a jumper on top or a try a new jacket for a quick change.

It’s time to take the plunge all over again and breathe life into your gowns. Carrie Bradshaw, eat your heart out!

Ready to start?

This blog was written by Zero Waste Scotland, who deliver the Love Your Clothes campaign in Scotland.