Today in the decluttering sentimental items series we're decluttering formal wear. Things like prom or graduation dresses, bridesmaid or flower girl dresses, and wedding dresses. These are very special, but if we never wear them, then they are taking up space in the back of our closets that could be used for our daily clothes.
Why formal wear is hard to let go of
It's tough to let go of these special dresses because they usually represent a very special day in our lives. Often we paid a lot of money for these dress as well, which makes it harder to say goodbye to them.
Sometimes we keep a bridesmaid dress because we think the friend who got married will be upset if we give it away. But ultimately it's your dress, not theirs. And if they didn't choose something that you can wear again (or alter to wear again), they really can't expect you to keep it forever.
Tips for letting go of formal wear
Here are a few tips that may make it easier to let go of your formal wear:
- You likely have a ton of pictures of the you wearing the dress in question, so you don't need the actual dress to remember that day.
- Think about what else you could use the space for instead of your sentimental dresses. If they're currently in your closet, you'll be able to have more space for your day-to-day clothes, which makes getting ready much easier every morning.
- Or if you store your formal dresses in a basement or attic, you aren't able to see them, so ask yourself what the point of keeping them is.
- If you're divorced or if your dress brings back negative feelings, let it go. You don't need any sad reminders in your home.
- If you're hanging onto a special dress for your daughter (or future daughter or daugher-in-law) to wear, be realistic. Styles, preferences, fabrics, and body types change a lot more these days than in the past, so passing gowns down from generation to generation doesn't happen the way it did in the past. Either convert your dress into something that can more easily be passed down (see ideas in next section), or let it go.
- If it's easier for you to let go of your special dresses by giving them to someone in need, there are places where you can donate dresses for those who can't afford their own. Cinderella Project is an organization that gives donated dresses to teens who can't afford a prom dress. You can search for a local Cinderella Project (or similar type of charity) in your area. Here's a video explaining how it started.
- You can also have special dresses made into tiny gowns for stillborn babies or tiny babies who don't make it. Here's a post I wrote a few years ago about donating my wedding dress to one of those organizations. The post includes other suggestions of places you can donate your special gowns as well. Many of these organizations will take men's formal wear as well for accessories for tiny boys' outfits.
Ways you can reuse/repurpose/display formal wear
There are several options of what you can do with your sentimental dresses:
- If you have a special anniversary coming up, you could have your dress altered into a skirt or blouse or even a scarf that you could wear on your anniversary.
- If you have a family member or friend who is celebrating a special occasion soon, you could offer your special dress to them.
- You can make something from your formal outfit for someone else's special occasion such as a pillow, purse, baby blanket, Christening gown, Baptismal outfit, flower girl dress, or First Communion dress.
- You can let your daughter or niece wear it as a Halloween costume.
- You can turn your sentimental dress into special doll dresses or Barbie gowns (affiliate link) for your daughter.
Don't Start Your Decluttering Journey With Sentimental Items
Just a quick reminder that if you have "regular" (non-sentimental) clutter in your home, it's better to deal with that first and set aside your sentimental clutter until your home is less cluttered. Decluttering your everyday items will likely make more of an impact on your daily life than sentimental decluttering will. And sentimental items are generally more difficult to tackle so it's better to build up to them.
Whether you're decluttering sentimental items or general clutter, join our 365 Items in 365 Days Facebook group! You'll find lots of encouragement, motivation, and tips as we all declutter our homes and lives together. You can find more details about the 365 Items in 365 Days challenge here too.
For More Decluttering Sentimental Items Tips
Want more tips? Check these the 31 Days of Easy Decluttering series!
Or the Decluttering From A to Z series from last October!
If you'd like more decluttering ideas, you can check out my Decluttering/Purging Tips & Ideas board on Pinterest.
Do you have sentimental dresses you've been holding on to? Are they treasures or clutter? What makes it hard for you to let go of them? Is there a way you can use, display, or re-purpose your formal wear?
As you declutter your sentimental dresses, take pictures and share them on social media using the hashtag #declutteringsentimentalitems so you can inspire all of us to declutter our sentimental items!
If you decluttered your formal wear, where did you donate it? Who did you give it to? Or if you decided to keep a few treasures, how are you using them? What tips can you share for those who are having trouble letting go of their special gowns?
If you've got a picture of how you displayed or re-purposed formal wear, please share it in the comments or on one of the series' social media posts. I'd love to see how you are giving honour and respect to your sentimental items!
Here are all the posts in this challenge in case you missed any or want to share some with your friends or family!
I link up at these great parties - Check them out!