Eco-chic wedding dresses are all the rage, and for one very good reason: brides want to feel good on their wedding day!
What is it about ‘regular’ wedding dresses that brides find so unappealing and can get in the way of this joy? To be blunt, it’s the thought of wearing a wedding dress that is laced with chemicals and/or made in a factory that uses unsavory labor practices. Thankfully, ethical and sustainable wedding dresses are easier to find these days, because so many brides are demanding them.
So what exactly does an eco-wedding dress mean and how can you find one? Let’s find out.
What is an eco-chic wedding dress?
A wedding dress is considered eco-chic if:
- It has been made from new materials that have been manufactured to environmental and ethical standards
- Or it gives new life to a wedding dress that has been worn before
Here are a few ways to ensure your wedding dress is eco-chic.
In this article
- The beauty of a pre-worn wedding dress
- Opting for a new eco-chic wedding dress
- Ask these 6 questions before buying a new wedding dress
- What do to with your dress after the wedding
- Good To Know
The beauty of a pre-worn wedding dressExtending the life of an existing dress helps to avoid the use of virgin materials. Even with alterations, these options tend to be more budget-friendly, which means you have more to spend on the honeymoon!
There are a surprising number of ways to wear a gorgeous, gently-worn wedding dress.
For example, did you know you can rent a luxury wedding dress for a fraction of the price it would cost to buy it?
If you do choose to buy, check out some online and brick-and-mortar consignment shops. They are a great place to find a practically new wedding dress at a deep discount — or a beautiful vintage wedding dress, if that’s more your style.
If you find — or inherit) an heirloom dress that you’d like to restore, turn to a professional seamstress. These experts can let out the seams and darts, turn zipped backs into corset lacing, and brighten or whiten colors that have become dingy over time.
If you or a friend are especially crafty, try sourcing fabrics from second-hand clothing outlets and turning them into a stylish and unique gown.
Opting for a new eco-chic wedding dress
When shopping for a never-worn wedding dress, look for fabrics that have not been chlorine-bleached, chemically-dyed, or treated with chemicals that can harm workers and the environment.
If you go with silk, choose wild peace silk as an alternative to conventionally cultivated silk. Or choose eucalyptus lyocell (trademarked as Tencel®) as an animal-free alternative to silk. These fabrics closely mimic the look, feel and drape of real silk without chemical processing and without harming animals.
Whatever fabric you choose, look for dresses that have been handwoven over those produced by a machine in a factory. Villages around the world continue to use traditional techniques to weave silk and other fabrics by loom. Fabrics that are made by hand are typically not as uniform as those produced in a factory, but the inconsistencies in texture and color often add to the beauty, authenticity, and meaning of an eco-chic dress. You’ll also be supporting these villages, which feels good.
Ask these 6 questions before buying a new wedding dress
To ensure you’re buying an eco-wedding dress, don’t hesitate to ask about the health, ethics, and sustainability of the fabric and manufacturing practices.
- Are the workers who produced the fabric and the finished dress paid a fair living wage?
- Are their working conditions clean, safe and free from harassment or abuse of any kind?
- How can you be certain that neither the fabric manufacturer nor the dress manufacturer used forced or child labor? (Are they Fair Trade certified?)
- Was the fabric whitened with chlorine bleach or colored using harmful chemical dyes?
- Was the dress treated with harmful chemicals to help it to resist wrinkles, stains or fire?
- Does the fabric or dress manufacturer follow any certifications standards? Which one(s)?
Feel confident that responsible practices were followed
When searching for eco-chic wedding dresses, look for a certification that ensures fair trade and fair labor practices. For example, look for a Fair Trade Certification or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).
Alternatively, you can choose from fabrics and dresses that were manufactured entirely in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or other countries that actively enforce health, safety and wage laws.
What do to with your dress after the wedding
To save your dress — for yourself or to eventually pass it onto a friend, sister, or future daughter — be sure have it dress professionally cleaned, preferably without chemicals.
- Preserve the dress in a box with acid-free tissue paper to slow the aging process. (Dry cleaners can often do this for you.)
- Store the box in a dry place, such as a closet or under a bed. Do not store the box in a musty basement or attic.
Of course, another option is to reuse the dress now. Why wait?
- Work with a skilled seamstress to turn your wedding dress into a cocktail dress, children’s christening gown, communion gown or baby’s blanket.
- Or you can donate or sell it.
Good To Know
- Formal organic and fair trade certifications can be cost-prohibitive, so emerging designers may follow eco-friendly and fair trade practices, but not apply for certification. Check the designer’s website or ask them directly about their practices, processes, and fabrics to ensure they meet your values.
- Organizations that certify fair trade and fair labor practices may go beyond just protecting basic human rights. These organizations often work with impoverished villages to support better education, clean water initiatives, new roads or other projects that help the workers and their community to rise from poverty and become more self-sufficient.
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