WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE DRESS: how to dye + tailor your wedding dress (by an OWN bride)
We love how many of you rewear your wedding outfit after the day itself. This concept of 'Sartorial Sustainability' - investing in bridal pieces you will love and wear for years to come - is something that has long inspired us and the very idea that motivated us to create the brand in the first place.
So you can imagine our delight when we received a note from OWN bride Tasha telling us how she dyed and tailored her dress and has since worn it many times. She's shared her tips and recommendations with us in the hope that it will inspire other brides to do the same.
Tasha: "I always knew I wanted a wedding dress I could alter and wear again and again. I guess I was inspired by my mum: she had her wedding dress remade into a beautiful dress for me when I was the village carnival queen aged 11! That dress is now something I'm able to pass down too. Plus, I'm always dyeing my own clothes to get more life out of them.
"My personal style definitely lends itself to choosing a wedding dress I could wear again, and when I started looking my brief was "a beautiful dress that just happens to be white". That's why The OWN Studio caught my eye when I first walked past: yes, they're wedding dresses but the styles are relaxed, chic and timeless."
Helen Lisk @helenliskphotography
"My 017 dress was a dream to wear on the day. It fit me perfectly, felt so comfortable on, and most importantly, felt like me. It looked great even though I had to hook the train up on my wrist for the rest of the evening after the ceremony as it was such a wet day!
Helen Lisk @helenliskphotography
"In all honesty, it's the most expensive dress I've ever worn – but I wasn't about to be overly precious on my wedding day... I love the dance floor too much! From being hoisted up on friend's shoulders, to having negronis spilled on me, and retreating across the farm field into the late night party tent; the events of the evening took their toll and I was left with lots of 'reminders' of the day across my dress. Some I couldn't even explain (how did that green smudge get there?!) but I wasn't worried as I knew the dress was about to enter it's second life...
Helen Lisk @helenliskphotography
"Once we were home from our mini-moon, I took the dress to a specialist dry cleaners who were able to get the majority of the marks out, but I was still left with a stubborn smudge on the torso. This mark was going to be the deciding factor in how the dress was altered: if it could be hidden in the dyeing process, all I needed to do was shorten the dress. But if it didn't, then the dress would become separates.
Step one: do or dye
"I had the dress professionally dyed at Nicola Killeen Textiles, on recommendation from The OWN Studio. After connecting over email, they asked me to bring it in and to choose a shade from their Pantene book. I would recommend having an idea in your mind of what you'd like before you go in, as the variety of shades in the book can feel overwhelming. Think about the colours you love to wear, particularly when it comes to occasion wear. Look at The OWN Studio's occasion wear for inspiration too, as their colours have a beautiful quality and you can get an idea for how they look on different fabrics. I love wearing colour, but as this would be an evening dress I wanted something that felt chic and refined, and would work well for other weddings, as well as fancy dinners and parties. I went in with midnight blue in mind (a shade that would also be dark enough to disguise any marks), and narrowed down the search in the Pantene book to a beautiful dark blue with almost a touch of teal too it. It felt richer than a conventional dark blue.
"Bryony at Nicola Killeen took the Pantene colour and dress away to do a dye test, and sent me a swatch through the post with notes. The colour had come out beautifully on both the satin and the lining, but they noted that the polycotton thread would stay white which I'd expected.
After looking at the swatch in different lights, I told Bryony to go for it – bye bye white dress! Once the dye job was complete, I went into Nicola Killeen again to check I was happy with the colour. It had come out a touch lighter than the test swatch, but we all agreed it still looked amazing. I was able to take the dress away, try it on in daylight and if I wanted it to be dipped again, I could bring it back. I really appreciated this flexibility with something that was so special to me.
"An added bonus of the dyeing process was that all the marks either came out or were completely disguised. Although the dress had been dry cleaned, it had never been washed in water and as the dye process involves initially washing the garment, this helped shift some of the stubborn stains. I wouldn't rely on this happening though if your dress is badly stained. The team mentioned another recent dress that had been dyed a light colour, and the marks were still visible afterwards. If you are concerned, I'd recommend going for a darker, richer colour like I did to help disguise it.
Step two: getting it tailored
"With my 'new' blue dress, I made an appointment with another seamstress recommendation from OWN. I was initially quite reserved in how much I wanted taking off the bottom of the dress (out of nerves!), but the seamstress helped to find a slightly shorter length that felt more modern. Again, it's helpful to go in with an idea of what you like based on what you have in your wardrobe and love to wear. You can always go shorter, but not longer!
I was so pleased with the dress when I picked it up. It was the perfect length, and she'd even unpicked the white stitching from the armholes and replaced it with blue so no white thread was visible. My only regret is not insisting on keeping hold of the train after it had been cut off. We had briefly discussed it, but it was my fault for not confirming over email as the train was unfortunately put in the bin! I had plans to make matching scrunchies and hair scarves to wear with the dress, which was a shame but she kindly gave me some off cuts of the same white satin so I can make something in future.
"Another tip I'd suggest is cutting off a piece of the original white dress before it is dyed, so you add a little loop of the original fabric on the inside of the dress as a memento. Someone suggested this to me later on but it was too late!
The finished result
Tasha pictured in Paris in her restyled wedding dress
"I've since worn the 'new' blue dress twice and it brings me so much joy to give it new life. I wore it to a wedding recently and lots of friends asked me if it was 'by the same brand' as my wedding dress... "No, it is my wedding dress!" Even if I only wear it once a year from now on, that's still more than most wedding dresses which stay tucked away in storage forever. Before I altered the dress I found it quite emotional to look at, as it was filled with so many special memories. Now I can wear those happy times, and carry them with me."
Tasha pictured at a friends wedding in her 017 dress
Tasha's top tips:
- have a think about the colour you would like to dye your dress before meeting the dyer as the variety of shades in the book can feel overwhelming. Think about the colours you love to wear, particularly when it comes to occasion wear.
- I'd recommend going for a darker, richer colour like I did to help disguise any marks
- cut off a piece of the original white dress before it is dyed, so you add a little loop of the original fabric on the inside of the dress as a memento.
- when getting it tailored, it's helpful to go in with an idea of what you like based on what you have in your wardrobe and love to wear. You can always go shorter, but not longer!
OWN's top tips
- not all fabrics are suitable for dyeing so make sure you check this beforehand
- dyeing is an intricate process and it’s not something that we or the dyers can guarantee in terms of outcome. We would always recommend dyeing a swatch of the fabric first to test how well the dye takes to the fabric.
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