This Is How to Repurpose Those Dresses You Regret Buying

Jan 29, 2015



We've all been there. Barefoot and on tip toes, you find yourself in the dressing room of your favorite store, turning this way and that as you try to convince yourself out of that one dress you should have never reached for. But the mirror is doing its usual black magic thing and making the girl staring back at you look like God's next gift to all men. But it's kind of short, you try to reason as you turn back around and look over your shoulder. Can I even sit in this?, you think, not really caring about the answer. Christ I look hot, you finally decide. And seduced by your own butt in that little number, you buy your next mistake.

I know, I know. What were you thinking? What was I thinking? It's just going to sit in the back of our closets, silently judging us as we, yet again, reach for that same floral dress we wear every Saturday night. It's just hanging there, smug in its knowledge that we can't really pull off the short hem without the shopping-treat-latte hazing our judgement.

Or can we?

I think we can. Just maybe not as a dress as it was originally intended.


You see, I've fallen for that lapse of judgement more times than I'm willing to admit. To you or to myself. Beyonce was playing over the speakers, the mirrors made my thighs look deceptively Kate Upton-y, and next thing I knew I was shimmying in the changing room, thinking of all the boys I was going to wink at once I hit the bars in the sweet little number. But we all know there were no more shimmies. No more winks.

That is, until now. Last weekend I was planning a fancy night out in Chicago; one where cocktails were made by handsome men in suits and there were more forks on my napkin than I knew what to do with. Knowing that the bar was raised high, I wanted to look elegant and classic. And what was my most elegant piece? This blush pink, ruffled sleeve, mini dress. That also, as luck would have it, liked to sneak past my derriere every time I sat down. It was a horrible situation I've put myself in: the piece was too difficult to wear, but impossible to throw out. I was stuck.

Until inspiration hit. If the hem was too short anyhow, why didn't I go all in and make it shorter? As in, turn it into a top? So out came the scissors, and a few slightly-nervous hacks later I had a gorgeous top to tuck into my high waist bell bottoms. Then, wanting to give the flirty number a dueling, masculine vibe, I added suspenders to add interest to the look but in a minimal, clean way.

Now, to dust off the rest of the toddler-sized dresses hanging in the back of my closet...


PS: Want more inspiration on how to wear your dresses as tops? Why don't you read:

outfit details
DRESS: French Connection (vintage similar: here)
PANTS: H&M (vintage similar: here, here, here | store similar: here, here)
SUSPENDERS: H&M men's section
LIPSTICK: Revlon Cherry Bomb

 photo divider_zps9a1dedc9.jpg


  1. Love this styling idea, super creative and looks amaaazing! <3

    Andini xx | Adventures of an Anglophile

  2. I LOVE this outfit. Way to make that dress work!

    Lisa | c/oMKE

  3. I am really digging this! That shoulder detail makes for a really interesting top. I know exactly what you mean about being seduced by a dress when you're in the store, and I think you've hit on a great way to get some life out of something that just doesn't... quite... work. Love the suspenders, it's a really cute touch.

  4. Oh, how many times I've done that same song and dance in a fitting room... I can't even count. Although for me, it's generally with pieces that, outside a fitting room, I know I'll never be comfortable in - even if they do fit. I spend a few uncomfortable evening tugging the hem down or out or something and... eventually give up. I've never had the kind of stroke of brilliance you had with this dress, but I must say, I love the results.

  5. This is an awesome idea! I have a few mini dresses that I've worn maybe once, and then tucked away in the closet. I even have one with ruffled shoulders like yours! I am definitely going to give this a try, so I will actually get some use out of them. :)

  6. What a clever idea, to turn a too short dress into a top. It looks absolutely perfect. I love the balance between the ruffled sleeves and suspenders.

    prosecco in the park

  7. Such a great idea! I've definitely been there before- more than once! Love this outfit :)

    <3 Kelsey
    Chaos Parade

  8. I can't believe that this is a dress! What a great idea to turn it into a shirt. It certainly looks amazing here:)
    Olivia | Her Name Was Celebration

  9. I love it, it looks fabulous! Perhaps this will give me some ideas for several (a lot) of those kinds of dresses that I've got sitting in the back of my wardrobe!

  10. Marlen you genius, you! I have to say I am besotted with this entire look. I don't usually fancy ruffles but I am making goo-goo eyes at those damn blush ruffles. Maybe it's the suspenders, maybe it's the pants or maybe it's the gorgeous girl wearing these pieces who could make a paper bag look fabulous and chic!


  11. You do the most innovative things with your clothes of any blogger! I love your frilly top with the suspenders, such a cute look. <3 Your hair is fabulous too. xoxo

  12. Adorable!!! Suspenders are a must here, brilliant! Hmm, do I have any dresses which wait for a pair of scissors too? I wonder, I wonder...

  13. Hahaha I hardly ever have a problem with dresses being too short for comfort. Yes, short, but not too short. (I did buy one online from one of those Asian websites that hardly covered my butt though. Who was that made for? A baby?) Anyway, I think it was a wonderful idea to chop this dress into a shirt! The ruffled sleeves are awesome and so are your suspenders. Such an awesome girly meets menswear look.

    Jamie |

  14. Your top is so cute, I love the sleeves

  15. I love how you re-purposed that dress! Lovely outfit!


    Something About That

  16. Great:)) xx

  17. Hahaha, I've cut so many dresses just because of that reason! :D My sequin top used to be a short dress that made me look weird and chubby - to the bat mobi...I mean the scissors!
    I love this ensemble, especially the sleeves of the dress, it's so fancy indeed! I would have totally bought it too :D

  18. LOVE this! You look beautiful :-)

  19. Haha, that's happened to me more than once, that's for sure. Love how you've re-purposed this- those shoulders are amazing! Have a great weekend, Marlen! xo


  20. I recently did this to a legion of dresses that I may have worn when I was younger (in college) but not so much now that I work in an office. Now I feel bad for EVER getting rid of dresses that were too short! My darling mother just hems the end and I have a bunch of new tops! The ruffling on this one is beautiful, I'm so glad you saved it. The whole outfit is so visually interesting and fun!

    ♥ perfectly Priya

  21. Honestly, the worst part about not having an internet connection at my house is that I can't read your blog.

    You look AH-MAZING, the ruffled sleeves with those suspenders are just what I want to wear every day. Keep being fabulous, oh that's right, you will. ;)

  22. Perfection! I definitely love hacking into clothes that I shouldn't have purchased in the first place. The best part is when I've gotten over, even my miraculous re-creation, I can often still sell it back to Plato's Closet for the price of a cheap martini!
    : signe : the daily savant :
    Czech Glass Earrings Giveaway
    9th & Elm $50 Voucher Giveaway

  23. What a great post, we've all been there post-purchase !

    I wish you a fabulous weekend,
    With love from London,
    Hayley x

  24. You wear suspenders so well! I just love this look. Cutting dresses is such a good idea, and I love the look; I always seem to get too nervous though that I'll mess it up big time! Haha.

  25. So fantastic! I love the frilly shoulders in conjunction with the masculinity of the suspenders! And those high waisted bell bottoms are perfect on you. Haha, I rarely have this situation happen because those dresses that would expose my bum upon sitting usually don't fit me right all over anyway, so... problem solved!

  26. haha, it's strange how often one ends up buying something in that way! i love the dress as a top, though! and your outfit is making me want to take out my braces that haven't been worn in ages:-) xx

  27. What a great idea! I have a dress that I bought probably six years ago, that I have NEVER worn. Yet I can't bear to part with it, so I will have to give this a try!

  28. It's always a Beyonce song that does us in, isn't it? Ah man, that happens waaay too many times than I care to admit. But hey, turning it into a top? That's smart! Love the cute sleeves on it too - it adds such a feminine contrast to the suspenders and trousers. Perfect! :)

    The Dragonfruit Diaries

  29. Ha! I'm definitely guilty of buying such dresses only to never wear them outside the house! I tried the layering trick once or twice, but mostly I've just given away the culprits to friends.

  30. So many of my college dresses fall under this category... sadly I've already burned them all.

  31. I have a million dresses in my closet and I swear I wear the same 5 over and over because of this. I like the idea of making it a tuck in shirt only, so no sewing! This was seriously made to be a top- those shoulder ruffles look perfect with the suspenders!

  32. I'm sort of on a spending freeze at the moment and this was a great way t repurpose those regretful purchases! I'm also guilty of being sucked in by the magical voice of Queen Bey! haha
    I really reeeeally love the sleeves!! You're so savvy! This whole outfit is so so SO chic!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  33. Hahahhaha I love this post. God I know that feel so well. Why do I own half the things I do. Unknown. But you ROCK this dress. Awesome work.
    And thank you for the kind words on my blog!


  34. I really like your look here, totally suits you. Though I also think that leggings are a great way to re-love short dresses. If it's about socially acceptable to wear only leggings than having something just covering your bum is fine right? *she tells herself* Though that doesn't always work for smart dresses.

  35. You totally are able to pull off the the ruffle shoulders - not an easy feat. This does look very elegant and classic- sort of Katherine Hepburn but fancier :)

    Good idea.

  36. This is such a stunning outfit!
    Pretty lady <3

  37. What an incredible idea! Come be my personal stylist. Okay? Okay.

  38. You look amazing! What a fun outfit and I just love the ruffles and the suspenders!!!!

  39. I can see why you didn't want to get rid of it! It's so swet!

    On the extreme end: I have a dress from when I was probably no older than 6 that somehow has arm holes big enough for me now and I wear as a tank top! Ha!

  40. It's so hard for me not to curse right now. I always curse when I'm excited. Haha. I really, really love this. I wear dresses as tops so often and I love seeing people get the most wear out of a single garment. So, yeah, this is brilliant. I love those ruffles and I'm a sucker for suspenders. :D

    – Anna

  41. This is so adorable! The ruffles and suspenders together are adorable!


  42. Oh my gosh, I am drooling over this outfit. So much greatness, I envy your style.xx

  43. What a very clever and classy way to get wear out of a short dress!


  44. So adorable! I have been emboldened by some recent adventures with a sewing machine and I may have to give this one a try ... there is a certain dress in my closet that would make a very cute polo shirt!


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