Revamp Your Evening Wear

‘Tis the season for end of year office parties – and if your budget is anything like mine you’re thinking, “I wonder if anyone will notice if I turn up in the same dress as last year…”

The good news is you can redesign your evening dresses for next to nothing, and even the most competitive fashinista would struggle to point you out as a recycler.

Your options range from doing as little as tucking and tacking a sheer fabric over the top, to unpicking and using the fabric to make a new dress.

There are five important things to remember when trying to fool others into believing you’re wearing an outfit they’ve never seen before:

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1. Colour

Black can wear again very easily, as can dark shades of blue, green, and burgundy, but if your dress is a bolder colour like red or pink observers are more likely to store that colour in their memories.

This funky printed mesh tones down the shine of these fabrics and looks different against red and green.

Tone the colour down with a chiffon drape in a more muted shade, or in black which will give a shimmery effect to the colour. I like to have a variety of sheer dresses in chiffon and organza specifically to slip over another outfit to dress it up or tone it down. Get even more wear out of it by using a lace-up effect or dozens of tiny buttons and making it wearable back to front. (Note, if you’re going to be sitting most of the evening, wear the buttons on the front.)

2. Shine

Sparkly fabrics are eye-catching. If you’ve worn it before and run the risk of meeting the same people, tone the sparkles down with a chiffon or organza drape.

3. Details

Specific details such as a daring neckline, unusual straps, or a stunning back will be remembered. Sew a new section to cover the detail, which can be either temporarily or permanently attached to the dress. If you make permanent changes, consider removing the detail and swapping it with a different dress, top, or jacket.

4. Length

Very short or very long dresses, and the position and length of the slits are also features that people remember. Consider cutting a long dress in half, and turning the excess fabric into a top or skirt.

Add a different fabric into a shorter dress. This is also a great idea if you’re pregnant or you’ve gained weight and want to make the dress a size bigger. Cut the dress vertically in a number of panels and add in a fabric that compliments or contrasts. Satin and velvet make an alluring combination in evening wear, because they are such opposites in feel and look, but are both luxurious fabrics.

5. The top of your dress

Most people look at your face when they talk to you (note I said “most”). The top of your dress is therefore the area they are most likely to remember. If your dress is one of those that makes a feature out of using a different fabric for the bodice and skirt, you could get away with re-doing the top in the same fabric as the skirt.

Prom Dress

We’ve met teens who started prepping for their proms as early as four months in advance. They scheduled tanning sessions and appointments for manicures and pedicures. And, of course, they dieted. They browsed magazines and hit the shops looking at cheap  prom  dresses, shoes, earrings and handbags. The time and effort these girls put into preparing their physical selves dwarfed anything their mothers did before their own weddings! All of this preparation costs money and heightens expectations. Can you imagine how disappointed these girls would be if they were not asked to prom? We’ve also met parents whose daughters, in teary-eyed tirades, pleaded for new dresses. But their pleas didn’t come until days before the big event. These last-minute surprises often forced parents into on-the-spot purchases that were expensive (“Just buy it; we don’t have time to find a deal”) and regrettable (“It’s so revealing, but that’s the only style they have”).
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When it comes to your daughter’s dress, here are a few do’s and don’ts that can help tone down some of the extravagance and drama. By following these parenting tips, you’ll also help your daughter become a better consumer and a more grounded individual:

  • Don’t be clueless about school-sponsored formals. Be proactive and ask around when prom, homecoming or other formals are scheduled. If it’s a school-sponsored event, don’t be afraid to call the school and find out if there’s a dress code or other guidelines. You’ll feel better because you’ll know what’s going on, and you can start talking to your daughter about her plans and clarifying expectations and rules for the evening.
  • Do set a limit on spending. If your daughter needs a new dress, put a limit on how much she can spend. What’s reasonable will depend somewhat on your family’s financial resources. But you should encourage your daughter to think outside the box when dress shopping. There are other alternatives, often more affordable, than going to traditional department stores or boutiques. For example, many larger communities have vintage clothing stores that offer reasonable and distinctive choices. Other options worth considering with your daughter include having her swap last year’s homecoming or prom dress with a friend’s, making her own dress, or redesigning and altering an old dress to make it new and contemporary.
  • Do emphasize comfort, not sexiness. When it comes to the dress, the overall goal should be to be fashionable, yet modest. If you’re shopping with your daughter, you shouldn’t be the one dictating all of the decisions. You should help her make the best choice she can. Think of the mom in the dress shop who was asked her opinion. She wanted to shout out how wrong the girl’s dress was. But rather than say something that would make the girl feel awkward or bad, she asked questions that made the young lady think more critically about her choice. When your daughter is picking a dress, she should ask herself:
    • Can I dance in this dress?
    • Can I get in and out of the car comfortably in these clothes?
    • Will I spend the entire evening worrying that I might pop out of the dress?
    • Will my date’s parents be embarrassed by how I’m dressed?

You don’t want to be the clothing police, but you do want to set some limits. You want to help your daughter look beyond the style or label and see the bigger picture. Help her to understand that if she wants to have a carefree evening with no regrets, her choices matter.

If you can’t be with your daughter when she’s shopping for a formal dress, most department stores will put items on hold for 24 hours at no cost. If she finds a dress, have her put it on hold until you have a chance to look it over. That’s better than being uninvolved or turning over the family credit card and leaving her to the whims and tastes of friends and strangers.

Perfect Prom Dress

Aside from securing your date, what’s the biggest thing on your mind a few months before your high school prom?

Chances are, it’s all about choosing the perfect prom dress. How do you go about finding the perfect prom dress that will be worthy of a lifetime memory — the one that will be forever on the family picture wall, on your friend’s walls, and maybe in your school yearbook! It’s no small thing!

Before you even begin the hunt, though, think carefully about what you want paired with your budget. Short, tea-length or long Pink, white, black or  Celebrity copycat or your unique style? Vintage or brand-new? Is this purchase a one-shot deal or a new go-to special-occasion dress with multiple wears?

To help transform your wishes into reality, we’ve compiled a list of some things to keep in mind when going shopping for the perfect prom dress.

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Reflect Your Personality

Are you girly or a classic girl, outspoken or conservative? Your prom dress should reflect who you are. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You want to be comfortable and natural. You’ll have the most fun when your dress is true to your own personality.

Remember, this is a night full of dancing, so you will most likely not be comfortable dressing in something that is too tight or hard to move in. Don’t buy a smaller size intending to lose weight. After all, not all sizes are created equal! If it fits right, it’s your perfect size.

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Consider a Classic

Because prom is a formal event (and maybe one of the only times you’ll see your crush in a tux or suit!), going with dress styles that have been around forever is always a great choice. Being dressed up really hasn’t changed all too much — so a classic style can be timeless and you can wear it various times while still being distinctly you.

It could be tough to balance your own style with the dressiness of prom, so be sure to try a few different styles and sizes. Also consider accessories to add that special sparkle. While it could take some time to find a dress that absolutely fits your body and personality, it’s definitely worth the hunt!

Make Sure the Shoe Fits

When it comes to what shoes you’ll be wearing, consider your activities for the night. You want to be able to dance and comfortably walk to where you’re going next. Watch out for heels that are too high or have thin straps, as these can make it difficult to move. Before the dance, make sure to test out your shoes and break them in. You can then focus on celebrating instead of worrying about your achy feet.

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Relax

Don’t let the stress involved with finding the perfect prom dress interfere with the pleasure of experiencing one of life’s memorable milestones. Have the confidence to believe that you are capable of making your own dreams come true. We know you can!

Preserve Your Wedding Dress

The wedding’s over and your gown, the most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought, is hanging in your closet. Now what?

After countless hours spent searching for your dream dress (not to mention the dollars spent), it’s only fair to give your gown a happily-ever-after too, right? Whether it’s because of the way it made you feel on your wedding day or the possibility of passing it down to your daughter or another family member in the future, preserving your chear wedding dress is the best way to maintain it’s color, fabric and shape. And now it’s easier than ever, especially with wedding gown preservation kits like the one from Prestige Preservation, where you’re sent a kit with everything you need to securely ship your gown, and the preservation company takes care of the rest!

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What Is Wedding Dress Preservation?

This is a special cleaning and packaging techniques used to ensure your gown retains its beauty. A professional preservationist will survey your gown: the materials, embellishments and various stains, then formulate a specialized cleaning procedure. “Cleaning your gown is the single most important part of the preservation process and all the stains, including the hidden ones containing sugar that turn brown over time, must be removed,” says Sally Lorensen Conant, the executive director of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. You can usually wait until after the honeymoon to take your dress to a preservationist, but remember it’s better to take your gown in while the stains are fresh and not set in (especially if it’s stained with mud or red wine). “The longer you delay, the less likely all stains can be removed, and if you wait years, your gown will need restoration rather than just cleaning,” warns Conant. After cleaning, your gown is wrapped in acid-free tissue paper and placed in museum-quality archival box.

Wedding Dress Preservation Kit

To make it super-easy and convenient, some companies are now offering mail-away services. In fact, we partnered up with an amazing (read: trust-worthy) wedding dress preservation service called Prestige Preservation. They will send you a mailing kit with a pre-paid label and have it back to you within 4-6 weeks. That even includes insurance on your wedding dress.

Finding a Preservationist

Before choosing a preservationist, do a little detective work. You’ll need to investigate where to take your gown for cleaning a few weeks before the wedding. That way, if your dress is stained badly or damaged on your wedding day, a family or bridal party member can take your dress to the preservationist for you so that you can make your honeymoon get-away. Ask friends and family, bridal shops or your wedding consultant for preservationist referrals.

Though many dry cleaners claim to clean wedding gowns, most are not specialists. Unless the dry cleaner you’re thinking of using processes more than 100 wedding gowns a year, consider going to a professional gown preservationist with a noted track record instead. “I always tell my brides to ask a lot of questions. You want to make sure that the person taking care of your gown pays attention to detail and knows fabrics as well as how gowns are constructed,” says Karen Jean-Aimee of Madame Paulette in New York City. Ask about the type of cleaning method used, do they hand clean and if they will pre-treat any stains and soiled areas Jean-Aimee suggests. Also, find out if the company does the work on location or if they ship gowns elsewhere to be cleaned and packaged. Don’t rule a company out if they don’t work in-house, especially if they have good reviews.

Ask Questions

Ask your gown preservationist whether you must sign a release or disclaimer because these documents sometimes state that the company isn’t responsible for any damage done to the gown during the cleaning process. You will want to find someone who will guarantee every last bead and sequin. Next, ask if the company offers a warranty and how they will reimburse you if you find the gown to be damaged after a certain number of years. Read the fine print of the agreement: some companies will refund the preservation cost—not the replacement value of the dress. And consider it a red flag if they claim the warranty is void if you open the box. Finally, beware of companies that give quotes over the phone—different materials and stains require specialized care. Your gown will receive the best care if it’s individually inspected before a price is given.

Wedding Dress Cleaning Techniques

Some gown specialists use the wet cleaning method, which consists of gently washing the gown by hand with gentle cleansers that remove noticeable stains and unseen stains, such as champagne and sugar. If left untreated, unseen stains can oxidize and turn yellow over time. Other companies use a more traditional dry-cleaning method, which involve pre-treating the stains and then placing the garment in a dry-cleaning machine. “The solvent in the machine should be safe for fragile decorations, and these should be protected with muslin during the cleaning cycle or removed before cleaning and re-sewn onto your gown afterward,” says Conant. Solvents such as perchloroethylene (perc for short) or petroleum-based cleansers are used as stain removers. Petroleum-based solvents aren’t as aggressive as perc, and they’re also not as powerful in stain removal, but, due to its high oil content, petroleum nourishes certain fabrics and can give them a lovely sheen.

Pristine Packaging

The correct packaging materials are utterly imperative for guaranteeing the life of your gown. And all storage materials should be clean and completely acid-free. After the cleaning process, your preservationist will wrap your dress in acid-free paper or muslin, then place in an acid-free or pH-neutral box, which allow the gown to breathe and adjust with changing temperatures. Some boxes feature a viewing window: a clear panel designed so you can see your gown without opening the box. If your box features a window, look for acetate rather than plastic, and keep the box out of direct light, which can yellow the fabric over time. Some companies utilize boxes with Coroplast, a specially designed plastic known for its durability.

Handling Your Wedding Dress

While some companies choose to seal the box to keep out insects and vermin, others say sealing is unnecessary, if the gown is packaged correctly. If you do open the box, remember to use discretion when handling the dress. Jean-Aimee recommends wearing clean white cotton gloves (which many preservationists provide to you), but at a minimum be sure to wash your hands first. “There is no inherent reason why you cannot open your gown, but we are trained in museums not to handle something unless absolutely necessary because there is always the potential for danger,” says Conant. Talk to your preservationist about including other item such as jewelry and shoes to you box. It may not be the best idea depending on the type of materials you’ll want to include, but your professional will have an opinion on how to store properly.

Money Matters

Fabric, decoration, ornamentation and degree of stain damage determine the preservation price of a gown. “Your heavily beaded silk ball gown will cost more than a simple polyester gown you wore on the beach, and you should never trust your designer gown to someone offering a bargain price. Saving a few dollars is simply not worth the risk of ruining your wedding dress,” says Conant. Expect to pay $250-$700, though prices can go as high as $1,000 depending on the gown and location. Costs vary across the country, with higher prices in metropolitan areas.

Before & After

To help maintain the integrity of your gown, there are some things you should not do before sending it to be cleaned and preserved. First, don’t wrap your dress in plastic. This can seal in off-gassing vapors and trap moisture, inviting mold and mildew. Don’t hang your dress on an ordinary wooden or wire hanger—the weight of the dress will stretch and distort the weave of the fabric—try a plastic or padded hanger instead. Don’t try to clean the stains yourself —you risk setting them in the fabric. Once your gown is back from the preservationist, pay attention to storage. “Keep your dress in a cool, dark and dry environment with a relative humidity at 50 percent at all times,” says Jean-Aimee. Most professionals agree that light and heat play the most damaging roles when it comes to gown preservation. As a guideline, store your preserved gown in a place where you would feel physically comfortable. That rules out a hot attic or damp basement. Under your bed or in a dry closet are your best bets.

Wedding Dres s Preservation On a Budget

If you already spent most of your wedding budget, it is possible to preserve your wedding dress at home, though it won’t be perfect and may retain stains. Conant suggests, “Cloth or tyvek bags can offer short-term protection, but your gown should not hang for long periods of time, and a wedding chest provides more protection from sharp objects, smoke and from fire.” The acidic content of ordinary paper will literally scorch your gown. Don’t use colored tissue paper either. If the box accidentally becomes wet, it could stain your gown. For storage, professionals recommend wrapping the gown in pre-washed unbleached muslin, and then placing it in a sturdy box under your bed. That way, if you decide to preserve your gown down the road, it will be right there waiting for you.

How to Find a Perfect Dress

Finding the right cheap prom dress can be very difficult. With so many designers and styles to choose from, not to mention the plethora of stores, the choices have never been more confusing. Pricing needs to be just right and each store has a slightly different price range and selection. And what if the current fashion styles don’t accommodate your fashion sense?

1、Don’t buy the first thing you like. With so many dresses to choose from, it would be unwise to limit yourself. If you think you have found the dress of your dreams, ask the store to hold it for you (just in case) and then go home and look it up online. You can buy the dress from the store later, especially if it is coming down to the wire and prom is only a week away. But most of  the stores are over-priced and you can find the same dress for a much better deal online.
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2、 Use your research and shop online. This will likely save you quite a bit of money, since online purchases often cost less. Take the pictures you have stored in your camera and the recommendations from your friends and look for a dress that perfectly matches every detail. Don’t settle for something that is “okay.” Go for the perfect dress to match your personality. Shopping online allows you to look at all of the different designer dresses, and most websites will allow you to see each dress in multiple colors. From your online searching, you should be able to find a designer that you like, a style of dress that fits your body type, and the perfect color dress for your skin tone.
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3、Try it on. When the dress comes, try it on and make sure it fits well. Your bedroom will become your own personal changing room. Often times it won’t cost much to have a few parts of the dress altered, especially if you know someone who can sew. So, if it is a bit too long or requires a new button, don’t just send it back. These things are superficial and can be fixed quickly. However, if the dress is too big, too small, too revealing, not revealing enough, or just not for you, it is best to return it and try again.