Tips for Buying a Consigned Wedding Gown

Before saying 'yes' to a once-wed dress, consider this sage advice from a consignment expert.

fabulous frocks

Photo courtesy of Fabulous Frocks

High-end glamour gals and Vera Wang devotees on a budget, lend us your ears.

When your wedding gown falls in both the “something old” and “something new” categories, the savvy bride might consider this a win-win.

Amanda Baudanza certainly does. As owner of the recently opened Fabulous Frocks, she has based her business on the notion that buying a consigned wedding gown is the way to go. Her Back Bay shop is full of high-end, luxury designer dresses that read like a Who’s Who of bridal fashion—Lazaro, Vera Wang, Matthew Christopher, Carolina Herrera… Are you swooning yet?

“I think when it comes to buying a used gown, as long as it makes you feel beautiful, then it has done its job,” Baudanza says. But when buying what she calls a “once-wed dress,” it’s best to buy through a reliable source so you know the product you’re getting is authentic. No one wants to swoosh down the aisle in a faux Romona Keveza, now do they?

Here, Baudanza offers some expert tips on how to buy the right consignment gown.

Why do brides often have a tough time buying wedding gowns through a consignment store?

People have a misconception on what “consignment” means. Before I was in business, even I didn’t have a full grasp on the concept. Most consider consignment stores as secondhand, pre-owned, or passed down items like you would find in a thrift shop. All consignment means is that we don’t own any of our wedding gown inventory. Somebody else does. I would say over 90 percent of our gowns are actually samples dresses owned by other luxury bridal boutiques in the Greater Boston area. The other 10 percent of gowns come from individuals selling new or once-wed gowns, but these gowns go through the strictest of appraisals and need original proof of purchase to verify authenticity.

What is the average cost saved by buying consignment?

A dress is marked down based on its condition, and the majority of our dresses are in excellent condition. Excellent or like-new dresses start at a markdown of 30 percent of retail price and once-wed gowns start at a markdown of 40 percent.

What are your tips on how to buy a consigned wedding gown?

  • Be mindful of sizing. Brides should find out if a gown has been altered or hemmed. If a dress was originally a size 8 but altered to fit a size 4, you’re going to want to know this before buying.
  • Always check or ask if the gown has any damage or stains. This is an issue when you buy used gowns online. Small makeup stains can easily be removed, but large/dark stains may not always come out.
  • Check to be sure a used gown has been professionally cleaned. This is difficult to find out unless you purchase from a trusted seller.
  • Don’t let loose beads or loose threads discourage you from buying a used gown. A great seamstress or tailor can work wonders.

How can a bride make a used wedding gown “her own”?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you can transform almost any dress into anything you want through alterations. Just keep in mind the more you want done, the more it’s going to cost. The great thing about wedding dresses is the look can be dramatically changed by relatively simple modifications. For instance, the addition or subtraction of a sash can transform a very simple gown into something extremely elegant.


Fabulous Frocks is located at 10 Huntington Avenue, Boston.

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