Most women have at least one: a bland bridesmaid dress, purchased at the behest of a dear friend or relative but now lying fallow at the back of the closet. But it doesn’t have to be like that. We took one example—an unremarkable empire-waist gray chiffon dress—to Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock, the ladies behind the groovy Brooklyn label Vena Cava. About $10 and six simple steps later, our formerly blah dress was transformed into a sheer ink-splattered tunic with signature Vena Cava trimmings. “This would look cute over leggings or a unitard,” says Buhai. “It’s a fun piece for spring.”
Or Give It Away . . .
If DIY projects aren’t your forte, donate your gently worn bridesmaid gown to one of these places.
Operation Fairy Dust
Created in 2002 to give prom dresses to high-school girls in need, it has two locations where you can donate. operationfairydust .org
Gowns for Girls
The Lower Eastside Girls Club, which has a Gowns for Girls Prom Dress Giveaway every spring, will take bridesmaid dresses. girlsclub.org; 212-982-1633
The nonprofit Bronxville-based organization accepts bridesmaid dresses at a variety of locations in Westchester, the Bronx, and Manhattan. helpprom.org
•Bottle of black ink from an art-supply store or a few broken pens
•Needle and thread
•Clasp from a trimmings store
(2) Cut an inverted V shape into the front and back (the V can be as wide or narrow as you’d like). Mayock recommends placing the dress on a form (or friend!) to cut the hem to just above the knee, although it doesn’t have to be precise. “I love dresses that look like someone just hacked them up,” she says.
(3) With scissors, carefully remove the trimming around the waist.
(4) Dip the paintbrush into ink or use the broken pens to splatter onto the fabric. “We prefer ink over paint,” says Buhai. “The marks are really delicate and pretty.” Wait 30 minutes for ink to set.
(5) Cut enough of the 2-inch elastic to replace the trimming around the empire waist. Sew by hand, and attach the clasp.
(6) Cut the 1/2-inch elastic into four strips that are long enough to extend from the front to the back of the waistband. Attach straps to form triangle shapes around the bust, as pictured.