The freshly-launched website, owned by formal wear manufacturer Dessy Group, allows people to exchange their old bridesmaid and prom dresses for credits toward six different styles of black dresses available for purchase on the site. The way it works is pretty straightforward: You request a prepaid envelope for your dress (right now the mailers are available for free, but it seems they plan to charge for it in the future), follow instructions to package it up, and then send it in. It doesn't matter who made your dress, apparently — the site accepts dresses from "almost all" manufacturers, as long as it doesn't have any stains, rips, broken zippers, or anything that can't be fixed by dry cleaning (they'll even dry-clean it for you, as long as you package it correctly). They also don't accept actual bridal gowns, flower girl, or quinceanera dresses.
Should your dress be acceptable, then its materials will either be broken down and recycled, or it'll be donated to the charity Clothes4Souls. Meanwhile, you'll get a discount between 30 and 50 percent on one of six available styles of black dresses on NewlyMaid's website (all these dresses are made by Dessy Group, which manufactures bridal wear for Cynthia Rowley and Lela Rose, among other designers). This is the one catch, really: The six black dresses are fairly basic and some seem perfectly nice, but even with a full 50 percent discount they're all still around $100 (the full prices of all the dresses hovers just below $200). The idea is that you're trading a dress you'll never wear again for one that you will, but you'll still have to fork over money in the process. A smart way for Dessy to improve the site would be to expand the options that customers could use their dress credit towards. On a positive note, no one's forcing customers to use that credit, so if they're just looking for a free, easy way to give an old bridesmaid dress a second life, this is it.