Materials make the dress, which is why most girls’ boutique dresses are made from high quality, comfortable materials that are glamorous, stylish and comfortable at the same time so a dress can be worn all day.

Typically dresses are made from materials that are breathable, soft and that shimmer in just the right way, in keeping with Vivienne Westwood’s three commandments of buying less, choosing well and making it last.

Another option is to take materials that would ordinarily lay unused or end up in a bin and use them to make beautiful, stylish dresses. Here are some of the most fascinating examples.


Old Bedsheets

Vintage prints and textiles are very much in fashion, and there are entire boutiques dedicated to upcycling or remaking classic prints in more modern styles.

However, a step further perhaps is to take the vibrant, brightly printed bedsheets featuring popular cartoon characters and turn them into flowing dresses, such as this one made from Little Mermaid bedsheets.

It highlights that both inspiration and materials can come from unlikely places.


Credit Cards

Given that she worked on the delightfully outlandish costumes for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Lizzy Gardiner was determined to walk down the 1995 Academy Awards red carpet looking like a million dollars.

Apparently, she took the brief quite literally, as her dress is made entirely from expired gold credit cards aside from a gold shawl and thin gold spaghetti straps.

She won the Oscar for Best Costume Design.


Fermented Wine

The story of the fermented wine dress sounds like it came out of a science fiction novel; a research team in Australia used fermented wine to create a microbe substance that is similar to cotton but forms and takes shape on its own.

Besides looking like it was made of beetroot, the material was not very strong, meaning that whilst it would happily drape over a mannequin without any problems, the slightest of movements could tear it apart.

Also, they smell of vinegar and feel slimy when they get wet and will probably never be sold anywhere.



Parachutes are primarily made of nylon, so it is not the strangest material on the surface to turn into a dress, but the story behind it is so beautiful that it proves that fashion inspiration can come from many places.

In August 1994, B-29 Pilot Major Claude Hensinger was forced to bail out of his bombing plane after one of the engines caught fire.

The parachute took him down safely, and he slept in it as he waited to be rescued. When he was finally brought back home, he took the parachute with him.

In 1947 he proposed to his girlfriend Ruth and offered the material to her, with nylon still being in short supply after the end of the Second World War.

Inspired by Gone With The Wind, Ruth worked with a local dressmaker to bring her vision to life and was worn not only for her wedding but by their daughter and the bride of their son before it was donated to the Smithsonian Institute.