Sunday, May 16, 2010

How To: Buy A Dress on eBay and Trash The Heck Out Of It

You've all seen a peek of the Trash the Dress photo shoot I did with many of the other Bees when we swarmed Vegas in early March, but I wanted to share a few more details about the dress I trashed!

Just like
Pretzel and Lamb, I too needed to find a dress that wasn't my own for this adventure, and I had a great experience, on eBay no less!

I started searching eBay a couple months before I needed the dress, but at first I ran into search overload. There are a TON of dresses on there! But t
he more I looked, the more I realized that many, the majority even, are listings for brand new dresses made in China. While the prices are not bad (most in the $125-175 range), I didn't really feel like waiting 8 weeks for a dress to be sewn, and taking my own measurements for it.

So I narrowed my search to only look at pre-owned dresses, and then we were in business! Now I had lots of real dresses (not sew to order) to look at, and let me tell you, eBay is a treasure trove of used wedding dresses, if you'r
e in the market for one. I further narrowed my search to look for something in a similar silhouette as my real dress, an A-line with a sweetheart neckline--eBay has lots of filters to help narrow your search.

I found several dresses that I was interested in, but wanted to contact the sellers for clarification on a few points that were important to me when buying a used dress. Some of the listings weren't the most descriptive, and I wanted to be clear on what I was buying.

I was sure to ask:

- Are there any noticeable stains, rips, tears or snags on the dress? Where are they located?

- Is the beading/embellishments in perfect condition, or will they need any repair?

- If the dress has been altered, to what size? Height/weight of the bride? What height of heels were worn with the dress?
- How many times has the dress been worn?
- Has it been professionally cleaned?

After finding two dresses that were satisfactory to me (both happened to be Maggie Sottero, which I'd tried on while shopping for my real dress, so I knew how they'd fit), I added them as 'Watched Items' in my eBay account.

Now, this is very important when shopping on eBay, and you probably all know this, but just in case you don't: Never bid on an item right away. Always mark it as a watched item, and come back shortly before the listing ends to bid on it. Seriously. If you bid on something too early, it will just drive up t
he price. I swear, there is some crazy eBay mentality that if someone else sees there's a bid already, they want the item even more, and will bid on it themselves. And then you end up in a bidding war, and the price skyrockets. Nobody wants that, right? So trust me, when you've found your dream eBay item, set a calendar reminder, and come back a few minutes before the listing ends to snag it. It's worked every time for me!

The dress I decided to bid on only had one other bidder, and I got it for $130, which after inspecting it when it arrived, I'd say was an excellent price. It was a sample dress from a boutique in Connecticut, and other than one strap coming unsewn, and some of the beading a bit loose (which the seller disclos
ed upon my asking), it was in perfect condition. And it even came with an official certificate, verifying it was a real Maggie Sottero, which for my purposes didn't matter much, but was a nice touch. Upon receiving the dress, I did a full inspection of it, just to make sure there wouldn't be any surprises, and all looked pretty good. No snags or tears, and the beading was even more pretty than in the listing pictures. My mom was kind enough to shorten the front of the dress with Stitch Witchery, an iron on fabric fuser, so it could be taken out later if I decided to re-sell the dress. She also repaired the loose strap, and it was ready to be trashed.

Now, how do you go about trashing a dress, you ask?

In the desert, without sexy ocean waves to roll around in, it was a little harder, but with a fabulous photographer like
Fondue giving direction, and a fun photo shoot partner like Mouse, we found a way!

First, ease into the trashing. You want to start slow, and save the more adventurous shots for the end. Try leaning back on a rock, and practice your Tyra "smize." (You can click any of these for a larger view)
{Photo by Jessica Winn}

Then, try spreading the train of your dress out on the dirty rocks, climb up on some more rocks, and drag the train of your dress down a rocky trail.
{Photos by Jessica Winn}

Next, go ahead and sit right in the dirt, under a rocky outcropping. Climb some more challenging rocks in heels and pose next to a sexy Mrs. Mouse. And then you can really get into the trashing by kicking off your shoes and wading into a freezing pond at the bottom of a canyon. Wonder how the heck you got your train to magically float on the water. Don't forget to pose for the hikers gawking at you!
{Photos by Jessica Winn}

Peak through holes in the rocks, and then gracefully flop on the wet shore of the freezing pond. Continue to be amazed at the floating powers of the train on your dress.
{Photos by Jessica Winn}

Ok, now I just have to show you all this picture because it cracks me up every time I see it. You know how I said to "gracefully" flop on the shore? Yeah, easier said than done, in a dress that is quickly soaking up water like a sponge, and a tight corset. In all reality, I did a completely spaztic and ungraceful flop, and felt much like a floundering fish out of water. Of course, I had to demonstrate how I truly felt.
{Photo by Jessica Winn}

At the end of the shoot, it wasn't much fun carrying armloads of dirty dress while wearing it back up out of the canyon (the dress felt like it weighed about 40 pounds more because it was soaked from our pond adventure, as you can see in the below picture!)
{Photo by Jessica Winn}

But I had this to show for it, one dirty and trashed dress!
I brought a whole lot of red dirt back to the hotel with me, and had to wait a full 24 hours for the dress to dry out before I could put it back in its garment bag. But its mission had been accomplished!

I still don't know what I'm going to do with this dress now,
I haven't even taken it out of it's rolled up bag or cleaned it since the trashing! But oh well, it served its purpose!

If you are doing a TTD shoot, will you be buying a separate dress for it, or using your real dress? Would you consider buying a dress off eBay, either for your real dress, or a dress to trash?

(Unless otherwise noted, the pictures in this post were taken by me)


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I am jealous ;) Thanks for the ebay tips - I was definitely contemplating going this route last week with my dress drama! I tried on a few Maggie Sotteros and really liked them, so if I were going to buy off ebay, I'd probably go with a Maggie.

  2. Such amazing photos! I would have loved to have done something like that. As I mentioned in a previous recap, I feel like my dress was 'trashed' somewhat just by the normal wear and tear of walking around an outdoor venue on our wedding day :( I had it cleaned and they said they 'did the best they could' to get all the dirt out. I'll be interested to see what it looks like. I may pull it out again in the next few months to wear for an extra photoshoot with the Mr :) Ya never know.

  3. I think this is my favorite TTD that I've ever seen. I wish I had done one...I had the perfect beach/ocean set up to really trash the heck out of it.

    I would have felt terrible doing it to my original dress though. $130 for a gently used Maggie is phenom!