My mom made that pink dress out of the same fabric from her bridesmaid’s dress for her sister’s wedding.
Such fantabulous memories, but I have no plans to have it vacuum packed and framed and displayed in a place of honor for generations.
My mom made that dress too. It’s gold lamé. It has a bubble skirt still stuffed with the original styrofoam packing peanuts.
Let’s hear it for 1989!!!!
So which one is being honored?
I was asked by one of you for ideas of what to do with old formal dresses. That question made me snap a picture of the pink dress hanging in my closet. The pink dress even I am not delusional enough to believe I’ll ever wear again.
Even though I was so proud of it. Even though I received compliments galore on that beautiful evening in 1990. Even though it was one of the rare times I shared my mother’s satisfaction over wearing something completely different from what anyone else would/could wear. (Her argument for not buying clothes in stores.)
It was a prom dress. And prom dresses, historically, are things worn one time. For one occasion. That we stress over and plan for and spend money on and then forget unless we’re gazing at the pictures.
For the first five years, we smile at the pictures.
After that, we laugh.
It’s the way things go.
So what DO you do with these dresses?
Well, it’s my opinion that the one in my daughter’s dress up box is being appreciated more than the one hanging in my own closet. It’s getting worn. It’s being modeled by girls who come play at our house. It provides joy.
The one in the closet? I generally don’t even see it, and when my brain does register its presence, the all-too-familiar UGH feeling takes over my body and I wonder what in the world I’ll ever do with it.
So, after I snapped the picture, I took it out of my closet and put it in my daughter’s closet.
It’s hard to find dress up clothes for pre-teen sizes. Maybe that’s because girls that age are supposed to play in their moms’ old formals.
So snap a picture and post it for sale in your local Facebook swap group. When/if it doesn’t sell, give it to a girl who has outgrown her princess dresses.
Note to Self: If we ever purchase a formal dress with plans to resell, resell it within the next two years.
Another place to get rid of old formals: Theatres. As a former theatre teacher, I loved having old formals to re-work for plays. Ask your local schools or theatres if they’d like to have them, offer for free on FB groups or Craigslist, or honestly, just donate them. As a theatre teacher, I loved finding stuff like this in thrift stores.
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I had some old formal dresses I wasn’t ready to get rid of: I had them made into a gorgeous bag. Then when my FIL passed away, we had some of his things turned into bags for my SIL’s and my MIL. They aren’t clutter that way, and you still get to ‘keep’ them. It was a little pricey, and I wouldn’t do it with just any old clothes. But for a few special items: Entirely worth it.
Here’s the lady’s website that made them for me: http://minedrecreations.com/
Those would make awesome costumes for an ’80’s party!!!
Love the idea about having a bag made.
There is often a charity group (almost always in larger cities) that would LOVE to have your formal dresses. They hold a large sale every year for young women with nothing to wear to proms, which is often attended by older women looking for formal wear, theater costumes, wedding attire, or just fabric. The dresses sell for a flat $25 each, and the money usually goes to homeless shelters. The sale here this year is going to help build laundry rooms for the homeless shelters, expand two playgrounds at shelters, and send some homeless kids to a local camp.
You can find out if there is such a charity in your area by googling the name of your town or nearest city and prom dress, but you never know – try calling your local high school and ask if there are programs to help young women who can’t afford a prom dress.
In the DFW area, the Dallas Library is holding a dress giveaway, but homeless shelters in the area may know of other groups.
Kristy K. James says
I’ve always loved that idea – to help the girls whose families can’t afford the fancier stuff. But then I just give away anything I don’t want anyway. It’s easier and less stressful than trying to sell it. Plus, I know I’m helping others who may need it, and that makes me feel good. 🙂
A youth organization on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota is collecting prom dresses, shoes, accessories, etc. http://www.lakotayouth.org/
My girls LOVE playing with my old bridesmaids dresses. I did call my friends to make sure they weren’t offended! they weren’t! My neigbhor recently donated some too. My 12 yr. old loves! to still put them on and make weird movies! And that’s the most awesome thing for a 12 year old girl to do!
Judy Shepherd says
If you are going to have children and grandchildren DO NO THROW them away. They will become the most awesome item of entertainment in your house! 😀 My daughter and her friends spent hours playing in them. Then along came the granddaughters. They too got hours and hours of enjoyment from them. Two of my best memories of this are the skits and performances during sleep-overs and when one child wore one (all day) to school for Halloween. PS: don’t worry about how you store them, just stuff them into a box, they don’t have to be hanging and wrinkle free for them to still LOVE them.
I gave my wedding dress away last fall to the Angel Gown Program. I think they take light blue and pink formals too! This organization is in Texas, but there may be others.
Kristen Craig says
All wonderful ideas, ladies! You took the words out of my mouth! Yeah for repurposing. And every time that pretty blue formal with the lace dripping from it that I wore to prom in 10th grade was modelled by one of my daughters or their friends, I got a smile 🙂
And if you must keep part, just keep a swatch. Frame it with your picture from the evening. Throw in a few petals and the ribbon from the corsage, and you have a nice keepsake.
Depending on how dated it is, you can also contact your local Masonic lodge and donate them to the Eastern Star ladies or the Rainbow Girls or Job’s Daughters (the two female youth groups). All three groups wear formal dresses often and sometimes there are girls who grow faster than their parents can get them into formals (which aren’t cheap).
In Oregon, we have a ‘New-to-you’ sale at our Eastern Star state gathering (Grand Chapter) and sell them for $5 each and the money goes to various charities. The 80’s are coming back. I was AMAZED at how excited some young ladies were to get ‘retro’ dresses… (I’m not old, I’m retro) I’m not sure the gold dress would make the cut, but we made around $1500 for charity $5 at a time…
Old, shinny formal dresses also make good quilts for little girls.
if you don’t sew, give those gorgeous dresses to a quilter! There are quilt guilds everywhere! These lovely fabrics can be used in beautiful wall hangings, and even in fancy “for display only” quilts (probably not washable fabric). I have seen beautiful wall hangings made from dad’s neckties after he passes, men’s casual shirts, men’s suits, and from all kinds of fabrics in women’s clothing. There are many creative people out there who would love to have some beautiful fabric to incorporate into an art quilt. I know, i quilt, and i shop at thrift shops for exactly this kind of fabric….regularly!
There is a wonderful ministry in my area that accepts donated prom dresses and gives them away free to any girl regardless of need in time for prom.
Do some looking in your local area, we are a small town, so it doesn’t have to be a large city. If you have a still usable dress, you might be able to find an organization that would love to rehome it. Ours has thousands for girls to select from. And they are truly lovely.
Great ideas and some new to me. Thanks! My 12yo daughter just came across my old formals. She still loves dressing up, and you’re right–this age no longer fits into the princess costumes. Society expects our kids to grow up too fast. (Happy to keep the ‘little’ in my little girl a while longer!) When she’s done with them I’ll use some of these ideas.
Donate if you can…. Or if you sew your incredibly lucky! We bought a prom dress at the Goodwill and my daughter was a earth fairy I think she called herself… very beautiful.
If you don’t use it it’s clutter… doesn’t matter what it is. I like the purse idea.