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If your friends are in The Wedding Phase, you’ve probably already been a bridesmaid in at least one wedding party. If you had a dollar for every time you were told “the best part” about a bridesmaid dress is that “you can wear it again!,” how rich would you be?

Even with a giant mountain of money, you’d still be mad at the upwards-of-$300-dollars you had to spend on the dress. You know, the one that was perfectly fine if not lovely and matched the barn theme and made for a nice ombre effect with your fellow maids and was more flattering than you anticipated — the same one you are convinced you will absolutely never wear again, because who really repurposes a bridesmaid dress?

I did some investigative styling to see if maybe the answer could be all of us. Since I sold my small collection of bridesmaid dresses, I borrowed three from a friend who, through live renditions of “Shout” and every Bruno Mars song ever, kept them miraculously intact. She and the model are different sizes, but that’s nothing a little pinning couldn’t fix.

1. Go Full Quirky Goat Lady on Her Way to the Opera (Goats Are the New Cats on Instagram)

All you need is a patterned overcoat that clashes with the dress. You want to make sure the fabrics are just as different as the patterns. Shove your feet into piles of not-yet-fall leaves. Carry an equally-clash-y handbag because where else are you going to store all those pellets? And most importantly, add a pair of the largest sunglasses you can find with tinted frames. (These Derek Lam shades are my wildest hopes and dreams reincarnated.)

2. Think Preppy Moonwoman, But Don’t Overcommit 

Ah, navy, the most “universally flattering” bridesmaid color that isn’t black but confuses guests nonetheless who have trouble spotting the differences. Put a navy polo underneath and add a pair of cropped metallic pants. Find some big old mirrored circles for your eyes (these are Vera Wang, isn’t that apropos) and add classic flats, also metallic, to compliment the Bu(g)zz Lightyear thing you have going on top. Why the pink and striped suede bag? Why not! Plus, it breaks up the theme and offers a nice place to store your freeze-dried snacks.

3. Get Your Dorothy Ballerina at the Disco On, But Don’t Ask Me What That Even Means 

Don’t be afraid to remove or cut-out the slip of your sheer overlay dress. (My friend lost her slip, but just as I asked you not to ask questions above, I didn’t ask her any, either. Instead, I added a swimsuit under our model so she wouldn’t be naked and called it a great day.) This way, you can layer any similar-length skirt underneath, plus a bra, crop or bandeau top. It’s an outfit that knows a party when it sees one. Add yellow sunglasses because I think we’re going to get sick of them soon but before we do, we might as well ride the train.

And with that, kindly latch your shoulders onto my back. I feel a group cha-cha-chain coming on any minute.

Modeled by Meisha Brooks of Major Model Management, follow her on Instagram at @meishabrooks. Photos by Edith Young.

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  • Abby

    Okay but how do I re-wear decidedly NOT chic bridesmaids dresses? Like I need an article on how to re-wear either overly expensive empire waist strapless gowns or cheap, pastel convertible dresses from Etsy.

  • Jess

    Now… can I wear my wedding dress again?

    • Hayley

      Now this is a wonderful idea for a follow-up to this article!

    • Julia

      Maybe if you channel Miss Havisham and never leave Satis House

    • Amelia Diamond

      yesssss (post a pic!)

    • Basil

      I want to wear mine (I have threatened to wear it to a couple of weddings – it is a wedding dress after all). Some colleagues and I were thinking of getting dressed up in ours and doing a photo shoot. We haven’t done it though

  • i’ve been in 7ish weddings so far and while i have really enjoyed all the dresses i’ve be assigned to wear noooneeeee of them look like that! those are pretty dope. do i just need new friends? (JK TO ANY FRIENDS OF MINE WHO MAY BE READING THIS I LOVE YOU AND THE DRESSES BUT I CANNNOT WEAR IT AGAIN. ) styling in this is cool AF though.

    • also- where did you sell yours

      • Amelia Diamond

        I actually sold mine at this second hand clothing store by my dad’s but this racked article has great online resale services since you are queen of the bridesmaids! https://www.racked.com/2014/6/9/7594057/sell-bridesmaid-dresses-rental-services

      • Thamsa

        I’ve seen a lot of ladies resell those convertible dresses –like the Etsy one in the link above–on eBay. Since they’re so commonly worn

    • Andrea Raymer

      I feel like you are always at a bachelorette party. Like forever.

  • Hi I’m Viv

    This is too great. I work in bridal, specifically bridesmaids dresses, and its amazing to see the amount of miserable faces come through our office to pick out a bridesmaid dress. Navy is by far the most chosen color, but when people choose other colors they are the worst and look terrible on most people. I would love to see this done with some traditional chiffon dresses- I don’t know how much saving there is with those.

    • Kiks

      Thank you for confirming that I was a Good Friend for telling my maids to choose any long black dress. My sister/MOH actually just ended up getting a black pleated maxi skirt and cute sleeveless blouse. They all looked wonderful.
      Now I am gearing up to smile for one of those bridesmaids at her own wedding, in a plum coloured polyester nightmare that cost almost $400.

  • Merrynell

    But where is that sheer dress from though?

    • Thamsa

      That sheer dress looked so good

    • JC

      seconded: i need to know

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      Topshop!

      • Grace

        It’s FAB! Do you have the link? Can’t find it on the site.

  • Sydney Radetic

    Can you style some full-length bridesmaid dresses?

    • Amelia Diamond

      my friends and I don’t have any! will source around and do a round-2 but i’d probably tailor them shorter first and foremost!

      • Caitlin Crow

        Will gladly Fed-Ex you my floor-skimming magenta dupioni silk sleeveless mock neck (with neck bow) gown. It’s got pockets, tho, so that’s kinda dope.

  • Abigail Larson

    uGH all my friends chose floor-length dresses, and they’re still hanging in my closet like deflated petit fours.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’m about to go commenting this because it’s a common theme: bring them to a tailor and chop about 2 feet off!

  • jackie

    were is dress number 2 from??? i have a wedding to go to next weekend and that one is cute!

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      Phoebe Couture by Kay Unger dress!

  • Kate

    How about all those solid color dresses J.Crew sold for bridesmaids? Really well made (at least mine was), but (snore)…

    • Amelia Diamond

      I know that’s what I got rid of — I”m gonna collect more from friends after this season and we’ll do round 2!

      • Kate

        Maybe the lesson is that I should get rid of mine, too!

  • Vanessa

    I love the styling here!

  • Anna Monaghan

    Stories like this are the reason I love MR. Great job Amelia!

  • Anna Kalmbach

    Not if it’s from David’s Bridal !!!!!!

  • May or may not be panting over that Tory Burch coat. I would buy a bridesmaids dress just to wear it with that coat. Wow. Never going to be over that outfit.

  • aronnoco

    That! Tory! Burch! Jacket!

    GIMMIE.

  • Áine Hegarty

    Pants under dress plus Chanel shoes are a green light, no stops.

  • Emily

    I love all of these so much, god bless u Amelia

  • I am a great sewer , I can’t count how many ugly bridesmaids dresses I have redesigned and repurposed . It’s at the point now that at the wedding I’m envisioning what I could do with these poor fashion victims . The worst was the cabbage roses drapery fabric ….never found another use , curse Lady Di ! Good luck and maybe offer your services before they choose the dresses in the first place !
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://www.jandrewspeaks.com

  • Lil

    Only black and blue are universally flattering on everyone…

    I’ve been blessed to don bridesmaid dresses in vomit like peach, pale alien skin-esque green, and marigold (which is very in right now but tends to look well on people who aren’t reddish in the face).

  • Emmie

    tell me more about these freeze dried snax

  • Carrieanne Luicadi

    Helps if you had a cool bridesmaid dress. i was a chubby 8 year old in 2004, it seems some things do change.

  • Love the idea of calling myself a preppy moon woman! Lol

    erinbells.blogspot.co.uk

  • Ciccollina

    Flawless. I have never seen bridesmaids dresses this versatile but I don’t even care 👏🏽

  • But I’m a Cheerleader

    Buuuuut what if the bridesmaid dress is a universally flattering shade of navy blue, made of a rather nice cotton, fits well, but you can’t imagine yourself in it because it is SO. Boring. Attracts cat hair and lint like a magnet, and is ruched in ways that make it impossible to layer or make it look like anything other than a bridesmaid dress?

  • Fereshteh-Faith Oftadeh

    Hi ladies! This is on the wedding note – not bridesmaid – but does anyone know if this dress can be worn as a guests and it not break the “not wearing white” rule?? what would Leandra do??? YOUR ADVICE IS PRICELESS!!! THANK YOU! http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/ProductDetail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524447076403&site_refer=CSE_GGLPRADS001&gclid=Cj0KCQjwlMXMBRC1ARIsAKKGuwj0Qfs4BJ4z8Bej6dM8vOGUYcQwoINDmlH1LrOaEHrtx63f5ub6d2waAktJEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds