Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Not-so-sexy fashion makes super sexy decor!

I have a lot of old bridesmaids dresses in my closet. Like, a lot. So many, in fact, that they've moved out of my closet and been packed away in dry cleaning bags in the basement crawlspace.

A few years ago a friend was over planning for our mutual best friend's wedding and he was asking why I still had all these dresses I was obviously never going to wear again. Good question. There's no doubt that none of these dresses will ever be worn again - with the possible exception of one short, simple, strapless LBD that I would totally wear for a New Year's party or something (assuming that one day down the road I eventually develop a social life again beyond faking a countdown at 10pm for the kids and curling up on the couch with the husband and a bottle of champagne to watch the ball drop on TV. Also assuming I'm ever a size four again.) Why was I holding on to all these largely unflattering, one-time-use garments?

Not for the memories of the day I wore them, and not for the sentimentality of holding onto a part of my girlfriends' wedding days. I have photos for that. I held onto them for so many years because that rainbow of impossibly unsuitable satin and chiffon brightening up the back corner of my closet represented thousands and thousands of my hard-earned dollars and I wasn't willing to just throw that away. 

I said as much, and my genius friend suggested I make them into throw pillows. Genius.

Wishy-washy pastels and brightly coloured shiny satins, while perfectly appropriate to wear while holding a little bouquet of flowers and posing for photos with a fluffy white bride, look silly as clothing in real life, even those ones that are moderately attractive or flattering to begin with - which, I think it's important to emphasize, cannot be said of all (or even most) of my bridesmaid dress collection.

But, one-off bright colours and beading and inappropriately luxe textiles are just gorgeous when used in the home. Think of a bright red sari used as a throw on an armchair in an otherwise neutral living room. A hand-painted piece of yellow and turquoise Mexican pottery on a shelf with your simple white dishware. A vintage silk handkerchief stretched over canvas in a frame and mounted on a plain white wall. My God, these embarrassingly garish dresses could be gorgeous if made over into decor.

That was about four years ago, and the dresses are still sitting there - or they were, until this week. I finally pulled them out of storage and decided to do something with them. And realized that while the idea of making over these dresses into something for our home is a was a fabulous idea in theory - for years now I've had somewhere in the back of my mind's eye a luxurious pile of multi-coloured pillows clustered in the corner of a couch - in practicality, the majority of these dresses are one shade or another of pink, and I live in a house with four guys. There's only so much pink I can probably get away with.

Decor, pillow, upcycling, bridesmaid dress, satin
I came up with a grouping I thought might be nice - silver, charcoal, dusty rose and wine - but after hours of late-night cutting and sewing, I was spectacularly underwhelmed and disappointed. Big fail.

The only keeper in the bunch is this wine-coloured satin. I'm going to have to come up with another idea for the rest of them.

Decor, blanket, throw, upcycling, bridesmaid dressHowever, another soft rose-coloured gown became a lovely little throw for our otherwise very neutral living room - we'll see how long it takes for the boys to protest against the pink. And a patterned purple dress became a cute throw for the chair in the corner of our bedroom. I probably could have lined it with something warm and soft to make a comfy, cozy throw to curl up under when we're watching movies at night - but I'm kind of lazy and not the greatest seamstress ever. Maybe one day.  

There are a couple of dresses still looking for a second life and the pillow project didn't work out as planned, but for now I'm happy with my little upcycling decor project. And I still think the idea of a group of pillows made out of bridesmaid dresses in all different colours and fabrications is an absolutely fabulous idea - but not my bridesmaid dresses, and not these colours.

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