Eco Friendly Wedding: Vintage and Recycled Fabric Dresses

October 29, 2013

A sustainability-minded bride can feel conflicted while wedding dress shopping. On one hand, your wedding is one of the most special days in your life, and you deserve to celebrate it with a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime dress. On the other hand, the prospect of buying such an expensive dress that you’ll never wear again gives pause, not to bring up the social, environmental, and ethical concerns. Buying a secondhand dress from a vintage store or Etsy sounds good in theory, but trends in cuts and construction change over time, and it might not fit quite right. If this sounds familiar, check out these indie designers who use vintage and reclaimed fabrics to custom-design your very own special dress. Not only is the result breathtakingly gorgeous and unique, you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting eco friendly designers.

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Boulder-based designer Maggie Evans has been sewing since as long as she can remember. Eventually this passion led her to found her own label, which specializes in one-of-a-kind custom gowns made of reclaimed and vintage fabrics. For many designers, the process of making clothes is really about fulfilling their personal aesthetic vision–but Maggie is inspired by each bride herself, and the bride’s metamorphosis as she transitions into the next phase in her life.  In an exhibit at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art exploring this theme of metamorphosis, Maggie even “performed” by designing and sewing a dress in public.

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“Metamorphose” – exhibit at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, August 2013

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As that exhibit aptly shows, Maggie Evans dresses are more wearable art than commodity, from their conception and production to the final result, which seems more an embodiment of moods and ideas than just inspired objects. Here, a delicate, dip-dyed gown made of  reclaimed silk captures a sense of poetry.

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“Mae West,” a tulle ball gown with antique gold velvet bodice, is appropriately sensual and voluptuous. But subtle details like the raw edge of the skirt peeking above the black velvet belt make it more sophisticated and modern than simply retro.

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The designer poses with her favorite dress of all time, which is–fittingly–the one-shouldered sheath she wore at her own wedding last year. The tulle bottom can be detached to transform it into a cocktail dress for the reception.

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Maggie hand-dyes her fabrics and trims using all natural ingredients, whenever possible. Here, trims dyed soft apricot (using onion peels) and light pink (rose petals).

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Maggie names her designs after inspiring women–here, “Zelda Fitzgerald,” a knee-length ball gown with hand-felted bodice.

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Founded by Chicago-based designer Holly Greenhagen in 2004, Dame Couture focuses on natural fibers, reclaimed vintage fabrics, and vintage-inspired cuts.  Dame Couture also specializes in restyling heirloom gowns to better suit your body and taste. Every dress, of course, is designed, cut, and hand-sewn in Chicago.

If Maggie Evans dresses evoke strong, madcap, sensual women like Zelda and Mae West, Dame Couture designs bring to mind a polished elegance reminiscent of Edith Wharton heroines.

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Photo: Joseph Photography.

“Greta” looks like something that might have been worn by Countess Olenska, the knowingly beautiful heroine of The Age of Innocence. Strapless a-line gown in an unusual black and ivory Chantilly lace, with handmade lace and tulle flowers at the front and back neckline. Sweep train.

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“Rachel,” an Alencon lace mermaid with wide lace straps and sculpted belt.


These designers are welcome proof that earnestness doesn’t preclude sophistication or elegance. In fact, the level of conceptualization that goes into each custom dress is much higher than what you’d receive from a mainstream designer. With these eco friendly designers, your wedding day would be an opportunity to wear a dress that signifies something unique to you, and encapsulates your own beauty and personality. What can be better?

For full length catalog and detailed information:

Maggie Evans

[email protected]

Dame Couture

[email protected]

846 866 7599

Related: Eco Friendly Wedding Designer Profile – Tara Lynn

Cotton Wedding Dresses


Photo: Please feel free to distribute with credit to Peaceful Dumpling

Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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