Revamping 4 Thrift Store Dress

In High School, finding the perfect dress for prom was of the utmost importance. Saturday afternoons were spent trying on dress after dress until you felt that magical Cinderella moment. After twirling around the shop living out every little girl’s princess fantasy, the sales associate would bring over the tailor to make the dress fit like a glove. On the big night, friends, family, and most importantly your date, would ooh and ahh.

These days, the opportunity to go out to a fancy dinner, vacation, or a night out with friends are few and far between. I find myself in a loose-fitting day dress most of the time, but when the time comes to dress up, I want the clothes I put on to make me feel like I’m going to prom all over again. Now, I’m not referring to wearing satin and lace ball gowns for a night out. I want my clothes to have the fit and feel of a tailored garment. 

I pulled four thrifted dresses from my closet, each needing slight adjustments to really make them shine. A quick google search for “tailors near me” and I was off. The tailor worked his magic; a few safety pins here, bringing the hemline up to there, and the waistline in here. As I left, I crossed my fingers they would turn out how I imagined. 


Dress 1 – Sides Taken In

Let’s start with the dress that needed the least alterations. The print of this dress is what stood out as I shuffled through the racks at the thrift store. It’s short, but not too short, and the balance of dark and light blue are my favorite colors for my skin tone. This dress fits perfectly through the shoulders and bust. The waist was the focus for alterations. An inch of fabric was taken in on both sides and now it’s the perfect A-line dress. If I could have a closet full of dresses like this, I would be in heaven. 

Dress 2 – Hemline Shortened

This next dress is from J.Crew! My love for this brand runs deep. However, I have discovered my disdain for mid-length dress runs even deeper. Despite my better judgment, I bought this one mostly for the floral print. Also, as an attempt to step outside of my comfort zone and try a new hemline. Unfortunately, it hasn’t seen the light of day since. When I’ve reached for it, I instantly felt too dressy. Mid-length dresses look great in Instagram photos of women sitting casually at a café; but in real life, I feel like an extra for Little House on the Prairie. This is a true wrap dress and the waist can be as tight or loose as I want it. No need for alterations there. However, trimming from the hemline was needed to make it perfect for the upcoming spring season and casual enough to wear anywhere. 

Before and after of altered dress

Dress 3 – Sleeves Removed & Waistline Taken In

Again, this print grabbed my eye and I had to have it. I went back and forth on the flowy sleeves. Were they cool and different or I don’t like my arms, this is a clever way of hiding them dress? Ultimately, I decided the combination of the print, drapery sleeves, and the overall size was too much for the eye. Like the first dress, I want it to be an easy slip-on and go look. The tailor removed the sleeves (because I do like my arms) and added two darts to the back to give the dress some shape. Did I mention it has pockets?!?! The tailor could have taken the dress in more, but I would have lost the packets. That’s a deal-breaker for me. Plus, if I’m dancing around the beach in my tropical print dress, I don’t want a skin-tight dress clinging to me. 


Lastly, this dress was drama from the moment I laid eyes on it. When trying it on in the dressing room I had a brief moment of panic because I couldn’t undo the buttons around the neck. I After almost admitting defeat by asking an associate to unclasp me; I wiggled my arms and shoulders free, brought the entire dress around my neck, spun it around until the buttons faced the front. It still felt like an eternity to undo them, but I eventually broke free. 


Dress 4 – Hemline Shortened

As I towered over the defeated lump of fabric laying lifeless on the floor, I decided I couldn’t say no to the dress that just tried to strangle me. The long gathered sleeves, high neckline, and navy floral print were unlike anything I had in my closet. I knew in its current state I wouldn’t wear it though. Recall moments ago my dislike for mid-length hems? This is when I felt inspired to take the leap and find a tailor. The waist was taken in and the hemline brought up above the knee. Now I know what you’re thinking, Karissa, that’s still not casual, where are you going? Truthfully, I don’t know. However, I do know it sparks joy. If the opportunity arises to wear it to a wedding or party it will be my first choice. Until then, I’ll be the most overdressed person at the dog park. 

All those years of reading magazines that suggested finding a tailor to make your clothes look custom were right! I challenge those reading this post to go through your closet to find clothing to be altered. Simple changes to an outfit can take it from collecting dust in your closet to being your most fabulous outfit.

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