“Thrifty Chic” has recently become a popular fashion term for women trying to balance style and budget, but what about applying that idea to bridal gowns? This might seem like an unpopular opinion and in poor taste for something as formal as a wedding, but let me explain why it’s one of the best choices you could make.
First and foremost, it’s cheaper. A lot cheaper. On average, in the last few years, women spent about $1,500 on a wedding dress, not including the rest of the outfit, such as the veil, shoes, and accessories. Buying used can get you a designer dress for up to 90 percent off its original price, but usually they run for about 50 percent of the original price. You can feel good not only about saving money but also about saving the environment because you’re reusing something instead of ordering a dress made from new materials.
It’s ladies helping ladies! By buying a dress used, you’re helping a bride get back some of the money she spent on her wedding, and she’s helping you save on yours; it’s a cycle of past and future brides helping each other out financially. Plus, the first bride gets to know that her old dress is being put to good use; many women say their dresses are too beautiful to just sit in their closets indefinitely, so this way, the gown gets to see the sun and champagne all over again.
It’s kind of beautiful knowing that the dress you’re wearing has already seen another woman through one of the most important days of her life, and if you sell it again, then another woman gets to do the same thing. It’s like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but with weddings! For many women, the feeling of a legacy is achieved by wearing the dresses of their mothers or grandmothers, but sometimes that’s just not feasible. Maybe the dress doesn’t fit. Maybe it’s not in good condition or not your style. No matter the reason, you can still achieve that feeling by purchasing a used wedding dress. Websites like PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com and OnceWed.com can help you do just that.
If you do decide to wear a preowned wedding dress, make sure to ask the seller if she’s had it altered and what the new measurements are. The dress may be listed as a size eight, but may not fit like one if the original owner had it taken in. On the other hand, if you find a bride with a similar body type and measurements, then the dress is effectively already tailored to your size.
You should also inquire about the environment in which the dress was worn and stored; outdoor weddings can lead to grass stains, and a house full of cats could mean a dress full of hair and dander if it wasn’t stored properly. Lastly, ask about the return policy; you’ll never know if a dress is right for you until you try it on. If you’re buying online, you might not be able to try it on until after you’ve purchased it, so it’s good to know that you can return it, if need be.
Additionally, many brides consider renting their dresses for similar reasons, but in the case of a rental, you can’t have it altered. You would need to find one that fits perfectly off the rack. Plus, at the end of the night, you need to return it and potentially pay for any stains or damages to the dress that occurred over the course of the day. When you buy used, you can alter the dress however you like. It’s okay if it gets a little distressed because it’s yours--and you didn’t pay top dollar for it. (Not that you should be aiming for it to get messy, but if one of your bridesmaids spills wine on it, you don’t need to declare war on your friendship).
Buying a used wedding dress definitely won’t be right for everybody, but if you’re thinking about your wedding budget, you might want to consider it as an option. It can’t hurt to look at what’s available to you online or in the city. Who knows? You might find the perfect dress for the perfect price.
Here are a few local shops that carry used wedding dresses:
Encore Symphony Resale Dress is an upscale consignment store on Maple Street that supports the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. They don’t have a website, but you can be put on their mailing list to stay up-to-date.
Prima Donna’s Closet is a consignment boutique for designer labels on St. Charles Avenue that offers a little bit of everything, from business formal to festive party-wear.
Swap Boutique on Magazine Street is a designer consignment store that prides itself on quality over quantity, making finding the perfect items extremely easy.