Jewish Journal (Los Angeles) – December 2014

jewish journal

A dress to impress…after the wedding

by Elyse Glickman

December 11, 2014

<em>Pronovias wedding gown that retailed for $1,300 new was resold for $650 on Tradesy. Photo courtesy of</em>

Pronovias wedding gown that retailed for $1,300 new was resold for $650 on Tradesy. Photo courtesy of

You spent serious time and money picking out the right wedding dress, taking great care to ensure the perfect look. With that kind of commitment, it would be a shame to allow those investments to waste away after the big day, disappearing into the fashion graveyard of a dry cleaner’s box or the back of your closet.

Instead, you can find many ways to say “I do” to recycling, repurposing, reselling or even donating that dress to someone else for their own special day.

Redress for success

One way to pass on the love — and recoup some of your costs — is to resell your wedding dress. While eBay and Craigslist are two familiar options, Tradesy ( simplifies the process, allowing a bride to list her dress in 60 seconds using photos of the dress on its own or from the wedding.

Founded by Santa Monica-based CEO Tracy DiNunzio, Tradesy reaches an estimated 2 million unique visitors monthly. It is the outgrowth of Recycled Bride, her previous site that focused on brides interested in selling their gowns in a safe, online environment.

One popular subcategory in the wedding section of the site is called “Modest,” and it lists hundreds of gowns with high necks and full-length sleeves that are ideal for Orthodox brides. DiNunzio said she realized a significant number of her clients were Jewish, like her, when her sales dropped by 30 percent during this year’s High Holy Days.

She said reselling a wedding dress can do more than bring a bride a little extra cash.

“Selling your dress can be a mitzvah in the sense that you are allowing another bride with a smaller budget to feel as beautiful and as confident on her big day as you did on yours,” DiNunzio said. “Several of my bride clients have built friendships with their buyers and tell us they feel really good about the experience.”

DiNunzio said if your own wedding dress was bought new, you can potentially recoup between 40 and 60 percent of its retail value by reselling it within 20 days of the big day. The longer you wait to sell it, the more it will depreciate in value as brides seek out dresses from more recent seasons.

Other actions should be taken even more quickly, according to DiNunzio.

“I recommend brides get their dress dry cleaned within a week after the wedding by a dry cleaner specializing in fragile fabrics like silk and tulle,” she said. “This is important because there are stains like white wine, champagne and sweat that are not immediately visible, but will set and be visible later on if not treated.”

When listing a dress on Tradesy, brides provide information on the original retail price, the designer and if alterations have been made. Tradesy recommends a price based on the dress’s market value, though brides are free to name their own price. If the dress doesn’t sell within a three-week period, reducing the price by about 10 percent usually does the trick, DiNunzio said.

Bridesmaids dresses sell on sites like Tradesy, too, and can be repurposed to be worn at other weddings, school dances or other formal events. Although they often sell at 70 percent below their original retail value, DiNunzio said getting 30 percent back is better than having the dress accumulate dust in your closet.

A similar online marketplace, Borrowing Magnolia (, plays up the green aspects of wedding dress resale and rentals, noting how a dress will see many ceremonies rather than take up space. The site’s interface allows former brides and brides-to-be to specify their favorite designers, dress silhouette, size and retail price to match the right dress to a new owner.

The ultimate wedding (or prom) gift

For those who don’t care about getting anything in return for their dress other than a “thank you” and a warm feeling (and maybe a tax write-off), there are numerous ways to donate wedding attire to women and girls in need.

Brides Against Breast Cancer (, based in Sarasota, Fla., finances many of its programs for patients and their families via an online store and its nationwide bridal gown sale road show, which will be at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena Jan. 3-4.

Wish Upon a Wedding (, which has several chapters across the U.S., including Los Angeles, encourages brides to donate their dresses to couples facing terminal illness and serious life-changing circumstances, who are granted “wish” weddings and vow renewals. The group’s partner organization, Brides for a Cause (, sells dresses through its own traveling road shows and its website to raise funds to make these dream weddings happen. The Portland, Ore., organization also accepts donated dresses.

Closer to home, the many thrift shops in Los Angeles operated by the National Council of Jewish Women ( will gladly accept wedding and bridesmaids dresses. And the Los Angeles-based nonprofit startup All Good Things Inc. ( promises satisfying future homes for used bridesmaids dresses. The organization’s Project Prom Queen collects the dresses for a special day, where high-school girls from challenging personal or financial backgrounds can pick one out and then get accessories and hair and grooming services to make their big dance special.

Being bold

Other brides take matters into their own hands after their wedding. Vanessa Hughes of West Los Angeles took the plunge into married life in 2007 in a Vera Wang gown. Determined to wear it again, Hughes took the dress to the shop where she purchased it and had their tailors repurpose it.

“When I made my long dress into a cocktail dress, other brides shopping for their dresses had their jaws on the floor as a seamstress cut the entire bottom of my dress off,” Hughes recalled. “However, I knew I made the right choice as the dress was more cream than a true white, making it appropriate for many occasions. I wore it to a bat mitzvah and will wear it to a bar mitzvah this winter. Eventually I may look to dye the dress as well.”

Local dress designer Gilbert A. Chagoury, whose atelier is known for its elaborate, custom, layered gowns, said if a dress is really well-engineered, it can live on as a dress while excess fabric can be fashioned into other objects.

“Some of my designs allow for a full gown for the [synagogue ceremony],” he said. “Afterward, she can remove layers to create a cocktail dress. Or she has three layers — one for the ceremony, one for the reception and one as a cocktail dress after the wedding. However, from there, you’ve got options for what to do with the extra fabric.”

Brides intending to keep their dress for the sake of a daughter or daughter-in-law can cut a piece from it to incorporate into the one the next generation will wear. This can be the “something old.”

Chagoury also suggests using it to create the fabric elements of a bassinet for a child or transforming the dress into a blanket or quilt. Or the dress could be used for future Halloween or Purim costumes or even a party dress.

In San Diego, Lindsey Radoff and Jennifer Berman, twin sisters, co-owners and designers behind Old New Borrowed Redo ( built their business on changing the way women think of their “one-time dresses,” including wedding and bridesmaids gowns, in a similar way to Chagoury.

The sisters transform the fabric from dresses into useful items such as baby blankets, pillows, throw blankets, picture frames and more. Their website allows brides to have a hand in the design process of the new item with forms and photo galleries that provide inspiration on how the fabrics from their dress can take on a new life.

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