What To Do With Those Old Bridesmaid Dresses

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
It’s almost peak wedding season, and for many of us, this will involve shelling out for only-works-as-a-bridesmaid-dress bridesmaid dresses, as well as frantic searches for wedding-guest outfits that will be immediately and extensively immortalized on social media (ensuring that you won’t want to wear the same ruffled, pink number to all four nuptials on the calendar this summer). What an expensive, beautiful time of the year!

Of course, you can wear it again the following year or pass it down to a friend, but when your dress becomes an official space-waster languishing in the back of your closet, you've got other options too. For example, you can quickly recoup some of the money you spent by reselling or consigning your gently used designer dresses without ever leaving the comforts of your home! Or, get a tax receipt by donating your gown to a local charity shop such as Goodwill or Housing Works. There are also some great organizations across the country that accept eveningwear donations and redistribute them to teenagers who can’t otherwise afford to get dressed up for prom.

To help you plan and weigh your options, we’ve put together a list of second-life ideas for those bridesmaid and evening dresses you’re more than ready to part with.
Vestiaire Collective
Submit a photo and description of your designer dress to this global fashion marketplace, and only mail it in (for free) to the company to ship out once it’s been sold. There’s a flat fee of $25 for each item sold plus a tiered commission structure. According to the site, you can expect an average of 75% of the sale price, and 50% of items sell within a week.

The Real Real
This consignment site, which focuses on designer and contemporary labels, will send you a prepaid FedEx label for your dress. Just mail it in and the site will photograph, list, and price it for you, so all you’ll have to do is wait for the check once your item sells. Expect about 60% of the net sale price.

Goodwill
With thousands of stores internationally, this familiar nonprofit chain offers job-training programs for youth, seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities or criminal backgrounds who might otherwise face barriers to employment. Drop off your gown at one of its staffed donation sites, and you’ll get a donation receipt that you can file with your taxes!

Housing Works
This New York-area charity offers advocacy and supportive services for homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. There are 12 thrift shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and donations are tax-deductible.

Becca’s Closet
Let someone else rock your dress to prom! This Florida-based nonprofit distributes formal dresses and accessories to high school students with financial need, and also offers college scholarships. Drop off your donation at one of the dozens of Becca’s Closet chapters across the U.S., or mail it in to the headquarters in Plantation, FL.

Operation Prom
Another countrywide nonprofit that will accept your almost-new frocks (and jewelry, and clutches!) and give them to high school seniors in need. There are drop-off locations in eight states, from Texas to Connecticut.

Your state not on the list? Quite a few local groups in other cities have similar missions: Cinderella’s Closet, WGIRLS Inc’s Project G.L.A.M., The Princess Project, Kenzie’s Closet, and the Glass Slipper Project.

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