8 Ways to Repurpose Your Mom’s Wedding Dress – Brides

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Wearing your mother’s wedding dress is one of the most thoughtful ways to honor the matriarch of your family and incorporate a sense of nostalgia and tradition into your celebration. While you can certainly wear the frock in its original condition, the vintage garment might look a little too outdated, and it may not reflect your own personal style or work with your body type. 

Instead of forcing it, another trending option is to revamp your mom’s special gown by getting it altered, converting it into a piece that feels fresh, fun, and current. “Repurposing allows you to breathe a whole new life into the dress,” says Kersten Brittle, owner of the custom bridal service When We Were Young. “Not only can you tailor it to the bride’s specific style and preference, but it allows you to truly wear something unique and custom without having to source fabric and start from scratch.”

Meet the Expert

Kersten Brittle is the owner of When We Were Young, an Atlanta-based business that repurposes vintage wedding dresses by providing custom alteration services.

Getting your mother’s wedding dress altered is a popular trend that many brides are following at the moment, in part due to the resurgence of vintage wedding aesthetics—and there are so many ways to pull off this sentimental, retro trend. You can work with a specialist to remove the sleeves from an old wedding dress to create an off-the-shoulder or strapless neckline or cut off the train to reveal a mini or high-low hemline. Another alteration option is transforming it into a completely different type of garment, like a pantsuit or jacket.

If you want to reimagine your mother’s wedding dress, turning it into something that feels new and fashionable, Brittle suggests eight alteration ideas to keep in mind. Read on to explore each one.

Mini Dress

Maybe you want to use the high-quality fabric that comprises your mom’s wedding dress but refurbish the design in a way that feels more modern. If that’s the case, one alteration idea is reworking the hemline, swapping a long train for a short one. According to Brittle, this look is perfect for “the bride who wants to preserve everything about her mom’s dress but just wants to make it a bit more youthful and sexy.” Since it provides optimal comfort and movability, a mini dress is the ideal choice for a night of dancing, so try it for your second look or after-party outfit.

High-Low Gown

If wearing a mini dress isn’t quite your taste, another hemline overhaul that Brittle offers is a high-low one. This type of alteration entails removing fabric from just the front of the piece and keeping a longer skirt in the back, creating a playful look. For a garment that errs on the bolder side, have a short hemline cascade into a sweeping train. If you want a more subtle contrast, opt for a slight difference between the lengths. Brittle mentions that she can also craft a convertible dress with a detachable train, giving you the opportunity to wear the waterfall style at your ceremony and a mini gown at your reception.


To change your mother’s wedding dress into a new piece of clothing with a different silhouette, a pantsuit is a sleek and sophisticated option. With a blazer and trousers, this alteration idea looks polished, yet it’s unfussy and low-maintenance. This style complements courthouse ceremonies and rooftop weddings exceptionally well, and it could even be your go-to look for another pre-wedding event, from your bachelorette party to your rehearsal dinner. At your consultation, make sure to tell your tailor whether you’d prefer a looser or fitter style and if you want a more structured or casual design. 


Although it’s similar to a button-up jacket and slacks, a jumpsuit offers more flexibility in terms of design, whether it has a strapless corset top and wide-legged pants or a long-sleeved bodice and a flared hemline. Whatever you choose, this alteration idea could be an unconventional choice for your nuptials, especially bohemian aesthetics and civil services, or a chic pick for your bachelorette party or bridal shower.


A comparable alternative to a jumpsuit—but with shorts instead of pants—is a romper. Like the former, there are so many different options to explore. For instance, a one-shoulder design with flowy fabric would suit a laid-back beach ceremony, while a fitted piece with a plunging neckline would complement an after-party. Since this option will expose your bare skin, it’s best for warmer climates and seasons.

Two-Piece Skirt Set

Transforming your mother’s wedding dress into a two-piece set with a cropped shirt and a skirt is a fashion-forward alternative that will demand attention, whether you wear it to your welcome party or your reception. Not only is this alteration option super chic, but it’s also versatile: Short sleeves and a mini skirt is the perfect combination for outdoor spring or summer nuptials, while a set with longer sleeves and a floor-length skirt is preferable for colder-weather conditions.

Getting-Ready Robe

If you already picked out your wedding dress but you still want to include your mom in the celebration, consider using the fabric to make a robe to wear while you’re getting ready for the upcoming festivities. “Maybe the dress isn’t your style at all, or maybe there isn’t enough fabric to make the dress fit,” Brittle poses. This is a great option if your mom donned a silk or satin frock when she walked down the aisle because the texture is cozy and plush, perfect for lounging.


Perhaps you want to convert your mother’s wedding dress into a garment you’ll wear time and time again, not just the day you tie the knot. A jacket is a functional choice because it suits any time of the year, whether it’s a brisk fall day or a chilly spring one. If you want this brand-new piece to make an appearance on the actual day you say “I do,” you can also wrap it around your shoulders in an air-conditioned ballroom or at your tented reception once the sun sets.

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