What to Do With Your Old Wedding Dress

Renew, re-design or up-cycle?

I’m writing a book at the moment called “What to do with your old wedding dress”, to inspire you with some fresh ideas and to get your dress out of the attic. It is packed with designer tips on dyeing, restyling and repurposing of course, but this is not just about giving your dress a second life. It’s a deep dive into the smoke and mirrors wedding dress world, and reveals how supremely valuable your wedding dress is. 

It touches on why wedding dresses are so expensive, designed obsolescence, and why we can’t resist watching “Say Yes to the Dress”. It’ll make fascinating reading for brides-to-be and anyone who has ever worn a wedding dress. And the photography by Andrea Verenini is to die for.

During my research (which is in progress, so do get in touch if you’d like to participate!), I’ve discovered the most beautiful love stories, and a strong sense of many brides wanting to keep the dress, with no agenda or plan… just a desire to retain the romance and memories intrinsic to the gown and the wedding day it represents. 

I think the decluttering culture we live in can sometimes make us feel embarassed about holding onto something without a “good” explanation. I hope the book will be some assurance that if you feel you want to keep it, then you’re not alone, and I’ll give you some tips on making it more visible, having it on display and keeping it safely so it doesn’t perish.

Going forward, I intend to offer workshops and courses to explore how to decide what to do with your dress, and also how to transform it – including  restyling, repurposing, refabricating and dyeing.

Environmentally friendly inspiration

Througout 2023, I’ve been restyling a rail of donated old wedding dress samples for the book, holding photoshoots and working through some exciting collaborative projects. These include one with the London College of Fashion, and another with Farnborough College of Technology. In both cases, I supplied old wedding dresses or donated samples, for students to experiment with, and explore refabrication and re-design, without relying on colour and pattern.

I cannot wait to share the results in the book, which is almost finished, so do please get in touch if you’d like to be kept updated on publication. I’m sure in due course I’ll get my head around mailchimp, but for now, just drop me an email!  There would appear to be at least 10 million old wedding dresses sitting in peoples’ attics in the UK alone, and another 300,000 or so wedding dresses being worn each year, so the several publishers who have shown interest seem of the opinion that readership might be significant. 

Talking of which, I’m currently looking for a literary agent, so if that’s you and you’ve read this far, please get in touch soon, if you think we’re a match, before I sign on a dotted line!

GRAZIA magazine “…what makes it special is the memories that are sewn in too : of seeing my then boyfriend, through a crowded church for the first time. Now it’s been re-worked, I can’t wait to layer more memories on top…” Real bride Jess Salter, featured in GRAZIA, whose dress was re-modelled by designer Tessa Cox Birch.

Contact Caroline

I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a line with your thoughts and questions – I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

© Copyright Caroline Arthur 2020