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You may choose to wear a second-hand wedding gown for many reasons; because it has been passed down to you through family, you picked up a bargain in a bid to save money, or you want to track down a dress from a particular decade because you love vintage styles.
Wearing an inherited wedding dress is wonderful for sentimental reasons. However, if the dress isn’t already a good fit, it has staining or damage, or the style isn’t to your taste but you feel obliged to wear it, things could get tricky.
Your best option may be to get your gown altered and restyled, add some touches of your own, or use parts of it within your ensemble in a different way. Here’s our handy how-to guide.
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Add Your Own Touches
Subtle Statements of Colour. Add a splash of colour to your gown with a sash.
Add in layers. A second layer of fabric sewn to the underskirt of the train could also add a nice bright touch.
Bedazzle and Bejewel. Sew additional beading to your gown’s bodice if you feel it’s too plain.
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Accessorize: Pin a brooch or silk flower to the bust or neckline to add interest.
Have the hem professionally dyed. Choose a colour to match the bridesmaids’ dresses and colour theme of your wedding
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Restore or Recycle
Restore the condition. An older dress is sure to have aged, yellowed or moulded over the years. Go to a specialist initially to see if it is possible to restore its condition.
Lower the neckline. Necklines were often higher in previous decades, so you could modernize your dress by adapting it.
Accessorize your dress. Add some bright shoes, gloves, bolero jacket, shawl or statement jewellery.
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Shorten the dress. Bring the dress up a few inches to show off your shoes. Shorter gowns have a modern appeal and will rid the dress of any stains to the hem of the skirt.
Alter the sleeves. If the sleeves are cumbersome and dated, remove them altogether, or make them three-quarter and fitted. Alternatively, add in some sleeves for a vintage feel.
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If you really aren’t pleased with the style of the dress, or it is beyond restoring, there could be other ways to incorporate it into your wedding preparations. You could recycle parts of the dress to create something else to be included in the ceremony.
Ring pillow – a small piece of the gown’s fabric can simply be turned into a ring pillow for those nuptials.
Veil – If there’s enough undamaged fabric, using the dress’s lace for your veil could be a lovely touch.
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Bridal cap – if only a small area of the dress is in good condition a bridal cap could be a good option.
Bouquet – parts of the dress could be used as decorative elements added to your bouquet. A sash or waistband would make a great bouquet wrap. Add some rhinestones for a bit of extra sparkle.
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Once you start brainstorming, many ideas will come to mind. Ask family and close friends to pitch in their ideas too…who knows what innovative solutions you may come up with. If you can’t bear to cut the dress up, you could display it instead, perhaps above the guest book.
There are many great ways to make a second-hand or inherited dress work for you and adapt to suit your style. In doing so, you can achieve a beautiful and individual wedding dress, with a romantic vintage look and sentimental value that’s personal to you.
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Emily Bradbury is a blogger and fashion lover at The Jewel Hut, home to over 40 big-name jewelry brands, now available in the US.