My Sister’s Dress provides affordable prom dresses while raising money for McHenry County College scholarship

March 2 sale of $25 dresses is open to the public

Stephanie Ormsby, owner of Wear Did U Get That in Crystal Lake, said nearly 200 dresses were donated at her store by Feb. 18, 2023, for the My Sister's Dress sale set for Feb. 25, 2023.

When Gabby German tried on her $25 prom dress from My Sister’s Dress in 2019, she immediately fell in love. The red, sparkly preowned garment inspired her never to pay full price for a dress again.

“I felt like a million dollars,” she said. “That started my whole admiration for how something could make you feel.”

My Sister’s Dress is a group of volunteers who gather donated gowns every year to resell them at an affordable price of $25 each. With the money raised from the one-day sale, proceeds go to a nonprofit organization.

2023 Miss Lake in the Hills Hallie Guerrero poses in a donated dress for this year's My Sister's Dress sale.

Five years after she bought that first recycled prom dress, German is a college graduate with a bachelor’s in marketing. With her new degree, she noticed My Sister’s Dress could get a social media marketing boost.

German gathered volunteers to model some donated dresses at Crystal Lake’s Wear Did U Get That shop and started posting short videos on social media. Collectively, the posts already have over 8,000 views, German said.

Donations each year have increased, but sales typically stay stagnant, volunteer Emily Smith said. German hopes the social media posts will boost this year’s sales.

“A lot of people don’t know that it exists and they’ll buy a $500 dress elsewhere when we have a dress that’s worth $500 but it’s really $25 and it’s going to an amazing scholarship,” she said.

Sales from this year will support the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation’s Education to Empowerment scholarship. The scholarship provides financial support and mentorship for women students completing their final year at MCC.

Smith started the affordable dress sale with her sister-in-law in 2009, she said. Last year, the sale returned after a two-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic and came back strong by raising over $10,300 in sales.

This year’s sale will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at MCC. Everyone can shop, and there is a wide range of dress styles available, Smith said.

“If someone is looking to be more frugal or more friendly to the environment, everyone is welcome,” she said.

Donated dresses and formal accessories can be dropped off through the end of February at multiple locations, including Sage YMCA in Crystal Lake, Black Orchid Boutique in McHenry, Northwestern Medicine Health & Fitness Center in Huntley, D&A Salon in Woodstock and the Algonquin Area Public Library.

My Sister’s Dress is run by volunteers and local supporters such as Star 105.5 and Smith Physical Therapy & Running Academy. Wear Did U Get That helps out with supplies and Blush Salon will raffle off three $100 gift cards to the salon during the sale.

The Service League of Crystal Lake also will cover the costs for some high school students in District 155 who “truly can’t afford the $25,” Smith said.

“It gives me goosebumps to think about how people care about this event,” she said.

More information is available at facebook.com/mysistersdress?mibextid=LQQJ4d.