Gently Used Wedding Dresses – Overpriced?

When brides come to Recycled Bride to sell their gently used wedding dresses, we provide pricing guidelines that advise them offer discounts of anywhere from 30% to 90% off, depending on the age and condition of the gown. Most sellers pick a resale price somewhere around 50% of the dress’s original retail value. But is that too much to pay for a gown that’s been worn before? Check out the post I found on this message board about the price of recycled wedding dresses. <!–more–>

“So, I’ve been looking on different websites to try and buy a “preowned,” “once wed” or “recycled” wedding dress, which are all nice ways of saying a used wedding dress.  Why am I doing this?  Because I just found out that my fiance really prefers a dress with some “poof” to it, and I set my budget originally for the straight-down, extremely simple dress that I prefer.  I know I could stick with the one I was originally thinking, but who wants to imagine their husband being disappointed in their dress on their wedding day, after all?  So, the point is, I can’t afford to get a dress that I would wear for new.  I don’t like satin – have never worn it yet, never will.  I don’t want beading.  I do want straps.  Whatever… I’m fairly picky.  That said, I have found a few dresses that I would consider wearing.
Gently Used Dolly Couture Wedding Dress, 58% off on Recycled Bride

Gently Used Dolly Couture Wedding Dress, 58% off on Recycled Bride


But as a tip to anyone out there selling their used wedding dress from someone in the mentality of purchasing a “preloved” dress?  No, I don’t want to pay half your original cost of the dress.  And you can’t count bustling and the costs of altering it to fit your body exactly as part of the original cost of the dress, either – I can perfectly well do my own bustle without paying someone, and I’ll likely have to re-alter the thing to fit me after I pay you for it.  The reason I’m doing this is because I can’t afford to buy myself the dress that I want new.  So you’re thinking that we should split the cost evenly, when  you got to go to the bridal shop, try on a million dresses, pick the one you absolutely *love* and wear it as a brand new dress, and I should buy it online, sight-unseen, run the risk of you not letting me return it to you when I buy it to try it on because “sales are final” (remember, you got to try it on and have a professional measure you when you knew that was the case), for a full 50% of the original price?  Nuh-uh.  I get the point, I end up with the dress, I can re-sell it for however much I want, etc… well, I’ll gladly ship the thing back to you at the end, and you can resell it as many times as you want, but I’m not paying you so you can recoup half of what you paid for the darn thing!”

What do you think? Is 50% off still too much to pay for a gently used dress? I thought this was an interesting post from the perspective of the buyer, and will definitely incorporate this viewpoint when advising sellers about pricing in the future.
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  1. I bought my wedding dress second hand on ebay – it cast me $177 + postage from america to australia (about $25) and it was worth over $1200 originally. the lady that owned it before me explained in her listing that she wasn’t interested in trying to make money back on it, she simply wanted someone else to feel as special as she did on the day. I think that is the right attitude, and if you believe in anything spiritual, it made the dress FEEL loved, and as a result, it made our wedding day even more special.

    I think people who try and recoup costs of their dress by selling it second hand should maybe have spent less in the first place. Theres nothing wrong with buying or selling dresses second hand, just maybe something a little off about the monetary motivations behind it.

  2. You are either willing to pay the cost or not. I bought my wedding dress for 70% of the original price. It’s the dress I wanted, I couldn’t find it anywhere else for that price, it was in great shape-what’s not to love? I’m not sure what you want from brides who originally purchased the dress. Do you want them to just give it to you? That isn’t realistic. The dress, though used, is still WORTH quite a bit of money. Just because you wore it once doesn’t mean all that cloth and construction is now worthless. Just like pre-owned jewelry, it still has worth despite being worn and loved.

    I agree that the op is more frustrated with her circumstance than the fact that the dresses are “only” 50% off. She already bought a dress that she isn’t going to use and now cannot afford another new dress-that isn’t the fault of any seller trying to recoup some of their expense. The op is probably going to try and do the same thing with her first dress anyway!

  3. In my experience people pay up to 90% for used designer fashion on Ebay; clothes and even shoes that have been worn more than just once. So why should a bride flog her dress at a cheap price? A dress that has been worn for a couple of hours and is almost like new. Trying on sample dresses or street wear that has been tried one like a million times before is way more disgusting than wearing a once worn and professionally cleaned wedding dress. I am a buyer, and depending on the dress I am totally willing to pay more than just 50% if it is still in a good condition and has my measurements. It still saves me a lot of money, and if I can’t afford it at 50% than it’s my problem but not the seller’s fault, and I have to continue searching until I find something within my budget. No offense to David’s Bridal, i like them, but I really can’t expect to get an amazing designer gown at the same price like a David’s Bridal Outlet dress.

  4. I have to agree with the original poster. I bought a dress, then found a designer dress I LOVED, and couldn’t afford it new (partly because I already bought one dress, and partly because it was very expensive new). I was able to purchase the dress for over 60% off on this site, and that was one that was new with the tags still on. The seller worked with me to come to agreement on a price we were both happy with, which was just a bit lower than her asking price. I think if the dress has been worn, you have to consider lowering the price to much more than half off – for all the reasons others have stated and then some. Part of buying the dress new is the full experience of it, and someone who purchases your dress online misses out on some of that. I will be selling my first dress (still new with tags) on this site, and I plan to return the favor of discounting the dress 60% – and still be flexible about the final sale price.

  5. I’m glad I came across this post. I bought one dress, had 2nd thoughts and bought another. So, now I’m planning on selling the first dress, which his a discontinued sample dress from David’s Bridal. I figured setting the price would be fairly easy since it was already a super cheap dress in the first place, but it sounds like this is going to be more difficult than I thought. But, I can’t say I disagree with 50% off a dress. I agree that buying a dress for $800 and selling it for $100 less is ridiculous, but half off is pretty substantial. It’s a pretty big savings and one I would consider fair if I were buying a worn dress. And, I have to say it, even if makes me unpopular, but it sounds like this poster is frustrated that she isn’t wearing her dream dress and is extra frustrated because these dresses are more than she’d like to pay. It sounds like she needs to have an honest conversation with her fiance.

  6. i think the concept of a gently-used dress is unrealistic. you take pictures, you walk around on several filthy surfaces- concrete, streets, venue floor, through a field, through puddles, etc.

    also, you sweat in the dress! you wear it all day, through your vows, the reception, food and drink (some of which will end up on the dress, either from the wearer or from other attendees), probably dancing in some form, tons of hugs and kisses from family and friends, smooches from your new spouse and other forms of physical contact… how could you possibly think that a dress that has gone through so many trials in one day could be considered ‘gently used’ ?

  7. I think it really depends on the dress. For a Vera or Monique that retails for $6k, wouldn’t you pay $3k to wear it gently used? That’s enough savings to fund a honeymoon! But if it’s a dress that retails for $700 and you buy it for $350, it might not feel as “worth it”, especially when you factor in shipping costs.

    @Cat — You’re right! In my opinion, that’s not a great deal at all. Even if the dress hasn’t been worn, it’s still been tried on and purchased by another bride. That situation warrants at least a 30% discount.

    @Fiona – Exactly! That’s what I always tell people who are skittish about buying online. If the dress is a recent style, just go try it on locally. Makes lots of sense, no? :)

  8. I completely agree. A seller can’t expect to make a lot of money off a pre-worn dress. A wedding dress is a special day, and if someone expects to charge half or more for what they paid for a dress that they probably spilt on, possibly snagged, and God knows what else happened to, then they are crazy…. I would just spend the extra money to make sure the dress is perfect if the price isn’t worth dealing with the “used” possibilities. Not Worth It

  9. Or consider having it made to order by a Designer or Local Couturier! You’d be surprised how competitive our pricing can be and you’re supporting an indy business.
    Not to mention that there are NO hidden Alteration costs to something that was Made to Measure for you in the first place! Every single detail of your gown down to fabric and color wil be exactly the way you want it instead of taking something and making it work. It’s the best option for the picky!

  10. I somewhat agree with the author of this email. I too am looking for a “preloved” dress. I have a specific dress that I have tried on at the bridal store in mind. I have searched site after site and the prices really are not much cheaper than buying the dress new online. Seller need to keep in mind what the going rate for that dress online is NOT what they paid for it in the store. The dress I want is $799.99 brand new from a store online. The person I found selling the dress wants $700.00 for it. That is not a deal at all even though she says the dress is new with the tags still on it. We still have to factor in shipping costs. The bottom line is do a little research on what others are selling the dress for before you decide on your selling price.

  11. It’s called going down to a bridal shop that has the same dress and trying it on. Learn how to buy smart online. If you can’t find the dress to try on, don’t buy it online. Find another one. I’d gladly pay 50% for a used dress. Chances are the original owner only wore it for a couple hours and so will you.

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