Bridesmaid’s dresses are not just for weddings anymore

You bought the dress, the shoes and the special accessories. Now the big day is over and you’re left with yet another bridesmaid’s dress cluttering the back of your closet. No matter how many brides have told you that you’ll totally be able to wear that dress again … you’ve never worn that dress again. Halloween doesn’t count.

But wouldn’t it be nice if you could? What if it wasn’t just another few hundred dollars down the drain? Design experts say go ahead and take those dresses out of the closet and introduce them into your wardrobe.

Step one: “Take a look at the overall silhouette of the dress and say, ‘What changes can I make that still keep the silhouette?'” says Rosalind Grenfell, academic director for fashion design and fashion retail management at The Art Institute of Colorado.

Next, if that dress is floor length, it’s time to cut it down to size. “Shorten the skirt to a mini,” suggests Zoya Nudelman, fashion design instructor at The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. And while you’re at it, Nudelman says you may as well remove any extraneous bows.

Now that you have all that extra material left over after hemming your dress, it’s time to use it. “Make it asymmetrical, add a shoulder to a strapless dress,” recommends Marina Saba, fashion design instructor at The Art Institute of Houston. You can also add beaded spaghetti straps to a strapless dress to change the look says Nudelman.

But you don’t have to have a tailor on retainer in order to make your bridesmaid’s dress not look like a bridesmaid’s dress anymore, especially if it’s already cocktail length to begin with. “Re-accessorize,” says Grenfell. “Put a shawl with it, change the shoes or put a cardigan with it for a more casual look.” Nudelman also suggests chunky jewelry.

Since most brides pick the same dress for all of their bridesmaids even though the ladies usually all come in different sizes, make sure the changes you are making are enhancing your best features and that the new look will complement you and fit your personality, adds Saba.

And speaking of brides, your dresses can get a once over, too. “Some brides make their wedding dresses into cocktail dresses and wear them out on their first anniversary,” says Grenfell.

Saba says if brides do go that route, they should choose a tailor carefully. “Make sure that you can retain some of the special effects of the dress while still getting more use out of it.”

Nudelman acknowledges most brides are too afraid to ruin the dress and choose to preserve it.

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