How to Buy a Used Wedding Dress

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How to Buy a Used Wedding Dress

In addition to all of the other preparations for a wedding, the bride’s wedding gown is one of the most important purchases she will make. Since the bride is the star of the wedding, her gown needs to make her shine. The average price of a new wedding gown is just under a thousand pounds. This can be multiplied several times over for a designer or custom-made gown. Couples trying to pull a wedding off with a tight budget may not wish to invest this kind of money in a wedding gown, especially when considering the other expenses associated with a wedding. There are a few ways that brides can save money on a wedding dress, including shopping for a used one.

Many used gowns are still in perfect condition because they have been cared for by the previous bride. Shoppers can expect to pay about half as much for a used wedding dress as they would if the gown were brand new. When shopping for a used wedding dress, brides need to follow the same steps as for buying a new one. Brides need to determine their body types in order to choose the styles that will be the most flattering. From there, brides can consider different fabrics and designs, find the right size, and evaluate the condition of the dress. eBay is an online marketplace where brides can find a huge selection of used wedding dresses.

Determine the Bride’s Body Type

First time brides may be overwhelmed with all of the styles of wedding dresses and the terminology used to go along with them. Not having a starting point makes the shopping process extremely difficult.  It is helpful if the bride knows her body type prior to shopping for a dress, since certain dress styles work best with specific body types. This helps her focus on seeking out certain styles of dresses. For brides who are unsure of their body types, the table below describes the five main body types for women. Additionally, the table lists the dress styles that work best with each body type.

Body Type


Wedding Dress Style

Inverted Triangle

Top heavy shape; broad shoulders, large chest, and narrow hips

Princess or ball gown


Balanced shape; same size bust and hips; undefined waist; slender arms and legs

Any gown


Round shape; full-figure from the hips to the shoulders

Empire or ball gown


Bottom heavy shape; wide hips and thighs with narrow shoulders

Empire, ball gown, or princess


Balanced shape; same size bust and hips; defined waist; slender arms and legs

Princess, mermaid, ball gown, or sheath

Women with a rectangle body shape can wear just about any wedding dress well. Because of the balanced body shape and slight curves, all of the dresses fit the structure in a pleasing manner. Women with other body shapes will have to select dresses that balance out the aspects of their bodies to achieve a proportioned look.

Compare Wedding Dress Styles

Once the bride has determined her body type, the process for shopping for a wedding dress will be considerably easier. Women won’t have to waste time trying on several different styles of dresses to see which one is more flattering, and can instead focus on the few styles which are sure to work. Most dresses are categorised by their style. While each style can have many different designs, the overall shape of the dress is the same. The main styles of wedding dresses include mermaid, princess, empire, sheath, and ball gown.

Mermaid Wedding Dress

A mermaid wedding dress is sometimes known as a ruffle-bottom dress because of its appearance. This type of dress has a tight-fitting bodice and is usually strapless. Beginning in the mid-hip range or at the calves, the skirt flares out. Depending on the style of the dress, this can be a slight flare or it can have several layers of ruffles. Because of how the dress is cut, it can add curves to a figure. Women who have athletic or slim builds with slight curves will find that this style of wedding gown is extremely flattering.

Princess Wedding Dress

The princess wedding dress is also known as an A-line wedding dress. This dress has a bodice and skirt, with a fitted line that goes from the shoulder to the hip, or all the way to the floor. These gowns can have sleeves, be strapless, or cover a single shoulder. Princess wedding dresses are the most forgiving and can be flattering on most brides.

Empire Wedding Dress

The empire wedding dress style is another forgiving style that is flattering on most brides. These gowns have high waists and a seam that falls just below the bust. From here, the fabric for the skirt of the dress falls to the floor and hides all curves underneath. Additionally, brides who are pregnant find that an empire wedding dress is the most comfortable and attractive. Since the fabric is loose around the abdomen, there is no pressure and the bulge of the pregnant belly can be hidden easily.

Sheath Wedding Dress

A sheath wedding dress is also referred to as a column wedding dress. These dresses have a line that goes straight up and down from shoulders to floor. Unlike other wedding dresses, the sheath wedding dress does not flare out as the skirt moves toward the floor. The straight line of the sheath wedding dress means that the woman’s shape is elongated to make her appear taller and slimmer. Because it hugs the body closely, this type of dress is best suited for brides who have a slim and balanced figure.

Ball Gown Wedding Dress

The ball gown wedding dress is sometimes referred to as the fairy tale wedding dress. These gowns have a fitted bodice, much like the mermaid dress. The difference is that the skirt begins to flare out at the hips or waist. Because of the dramatic way this type of dress is designed, it visually cuts the body in half. For this reason, women who are tall or of average height look best in these dresses. Additionally, the ball gown wedding dress has the ability to accentuate the top half of the bride’s body while hiding the tummy, thighs, and hips.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Wedding Dress

The wedding gown is one of the most important purchases a bride can make for the wedding. Even when shopping on a tight budget, the bride should be sure that she is taking all of the steps to get the most for her money and find the most beautiful dress possible. Extra care should be taken when shopping for a used wedding gown, since wear and tear from the previous bride can greatly affect the gown’s appearance. Some of the main factors that brides need to take into consideration when shopping for a used wedding gown are the dress material, size, and condition.

The Dress Material

Aside from the style of dress, the material is perhaps one of the most important choices a bride can make when choosing a wedding gown. The material not only affects the look and feel of the gown, but it also affects the price. Some fabrics are very delicate and some are best suited for certain times of year. Before choosing a wedding gown material, brides should be aware of the different characteristics of each material. Satin and silk are among the two most popular types of materials used to make wedding gowns, but there are many others to choose from.


Satin is one of the most popular fabrics for making wedding gowns. This fabric is versatile and can be crafted into a simple gown or a very elaborate gown. Satin works with any style wedding gown and can flatter any body type. Because the fabric is smooth and lightweight, it is also comfortable to wear. Satin is breathable, so the bride won’t have to worry about overheating during a summer wedding.


Silk is the most expensive material for making a wedding dress, but it is also the most sought-after material. This lightweight fabric is soft, breathable, and comfortable to wear in any temperature. Since the fabric is so lightweight, the bride won’t get tired out from wearing the dress for an extended period of time. The biggest drawbacks to silk gowns are their price, cost of cleaning, and how easily they snag.

Other Wedding Gown Materials

Lace, chiffon, and taffeta are other popular choices for fabrics for wedding gowns. Each have their own unique qualities, but one thing that should be considered is that they are hard to repair. These are all delicate fabrics with intricate weavings that can be hard to mend. If a used wedding gown made from any of these fabrics is damaged, then it could be difficult and costly to repair.

Polyester is the least expensive fabric that is used to make a wedding dress. Brides can find elaborate wedding gowns made from polyester at a fraction of the cost of any of the other fabrics. Another advantage to polyester is that it does not wrinkle easily. This means that brides won’t have to worry about wrinkling the dress before pictures are taken. On the other hand, polyester is heavy and does not breathe. If the wedding is taking place in the summertime, then it is likely the bride will sweat or overheat wearing a polyester dress.

The Size of the Dress

Women cannot buy a wedding dress based on the size that they normally wear. Wedding dresses rarely, if ever, run the same size as other dresses and clothes that are purchased off the rack. Although the same number sizes are used, shoppers should keep in mind that wedding dresses usually run smaller. Brides should take their measurements prior to shopping in order to compare with the dimensions of the dress. This is more accurate than using an overall size to determine if the dress will fit.

Shoppers need to plan on having the wedding dress tailored to fit the bride. It is highly unlikely that the bride will find a used dress that matches her dimensions exactly. The bodice may need to be taken in or the length of the skirt may need to be shortened. One thing that shoppers should keep in mind is that it is much easier to tailor a dress that is too big than a dress that is too small. A shopper should avoid buying a dress that is too tight in hopes that a seamstress will be able to alter it to the proper dimensions. If there is not enough fabric to let the dress out, then it can’t be tailored to the correct size.

The Condition of the Dress

The condition of the wedding dress is important to note when shopping for a used gown. Many brides clean and preserve their gowns immediately after the wedding. Assuming that the gown was also stored in proper conditions, it could look brand new. Other used gowns may have slight discolouration, stains, tears, or other damage. These gowns will have to be cleaned and repaired prior to the wedding. The more extensive the damage, the more expensive it will be to repair or clean. The condition of the gown needs to be considered when evaluating the price of the dress. If the gown needs to be cleaned and repaired, then this cost needs to be factored into the overall price of the wedding dress.

How to Buy a Used Wedding Dress

Used wedding dresses can be found in consignment and thrift stores, from private sellers locally, and online. The choices for used wedding dresses will be limited when shopping locally. For the widest selection of used wedding dresses, shoppers should look online. Sites like eBay make it easy to shop for the perfect wedding gown to be shipped directly to your door. With thousands of selections to choose from, brides have a better chance of finding the perfect dress for their big day.

Finding a Used Wedding Dress on eBay

When looking for a used wedding dress on eBay, start on the eBay home page. Enter descriptions of the wedding dress, shoes, and other wedding accessories you are looking for into the search bar on the home page, or any page on the eBay website. Under ‘Condition,’ select Used to refine the results to only show used wedding dresses. You can further narrow down the listings by selecting options such as size, style, price range, and more. Furthermore, you can always search for a specific dress by taking advantage of the Advanced Search feature.

Choosing a Seller on eBay

Be sure to choose a seller with a good reputation to ensure a positive shopping experience on eBay. Each listing shows the seller’s feedback score as well as the total number of transactions they have completed on eBay. Sellers who have consistently provided quality service to buyers are recognised by a Top Rated Seller badge.


Expenses for weddings can quickly add up, and the cost for a wedding gown can be among the most expensive. Couples who are trying to plan a wedding on a budget may not have thousands of pounds to invest in a brand new wedding dress. Fortunately, women have several options for obtaining a wedding dress at a reduced price. Shopping for a used wedding dress is one of the simplest ways to save money. Since most used wedding dresses were only worn once previously, they are still in excellent condition. The process for shopping for a used wedding dress is similar to buying a new one. Brides start by determining their body types in order to find the best style of wedding dress for their shapes. Then they can begin searching for the perfect material, design, and size. Unlike shopping for a new wedding dress, brides will need to evaluate the condition of the dress before determining if it is worth the investment. There are many used wedding dresses available for purchase at about half the cost of a new dress. Many of these dresses can be found easily on eBay.

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