Students Pass Down Their Gowns

March 28, 2019

Abby Reeder '19, Ella Dickson '19, Frannie Miller '19, and Sam Salmen '19 are currently managing Pass Down the Gown

With Prom dresses costing hundreds of dollars and most girls only wearing them once, the whole tradition seems ready for an overhaul. That's why Ruby Franzen '18 saw the need for CDH girls to get stylish gowns without the high price tag. She created Pass Down the Gown last year to address that need. 

The idea behind Pass Down the Gown is simple. Girls donate their used dresses from prom, homecoming, and other dances. The Pass Down the Gown team and their friends model the dresses and post pictures on their website.  Students can click through and choose the gown that they are interested in. They can try on the dresses, pay a deposit for the gown, and get their deposit back in full when they return the dress on time and in good condition.

"We've only had one person not get their entire deposit back," said Frannie Miller '19, one of the organization's leaders this year.

Franzen has since graduated and headed to college at the University of San Francisco, but her organization is going strong. A group of current students manages the project - Ella Dickson '19, Abby Reeder '19, Sam Salmen '19, and Miller. 

Managing the challenges

It's not always easy for the four girls to work together. They describe themselves as good friends outside of this project, so they've had to learn how to delegate tasks and treat each other professionally. They still turn to Franzen for help on a regular basis and have enjoyed learning how to handle the sometimes complicated logistics.

"We're just trying to figure it out and take care of it so it can stay part of CDH after we graduate," Miller said.

Despite its challenges, the organization is going strong so far. Pass Down the Gown has been designated as a 401(c)3 nonprofit and has been used by students from Central High School and Highland Park Senior High, as well as CDH. The group hopes that it will grow to be used by high schoolers across the Twin Cities. 

To make it more accessible across the city, they offer a shipping option.

They'd also like to partner with a dry cleaner who will clean the dresses in order to take advantage of the tax write-off. They've already partnered with Valise Boutique, located down the street from CDH, to serve as a convenient place where students can return their dresses. 

Miller keeps the dresses at home when they aren't being used."We didn't want girls just handing us dresses in the middle of Math class," Dickson said.

So far, they've collected about a hundred dresses, which are stored at Miller's house.  Storage is another logistical question they need to address as graduation draws closer.

They've had challenges in both collecting and renting out dresses, but have hope that using Pass Down the Gown will become more common.

"People have a hard time letting go of their dresses - I still have a couple that I'm not ready to donate myself," Miller explained. "Plus, a lot of girls want something new and unique when they go to a dance instead of something someone wore last year."

Miller points out that there are multiple advantages of choosing Pass Down the Gown. In addition to saving money, choosing a gown from Pass Down the Gown is also good for the environment.  She noted, "Usually, no one else remembers the dress." 

Great Options for Prom Season

The team is excited to collect and rent out more dresses in time for the upcoming Prom season.  

The team is looking for juniors to help out during Prom season.  If you would like to learn more about working with Pass Down the Gown, email Miller at 

Follow Pass Down the Gown on Instagram, @passdownthegown, or visit their website,, to learn more or order a dress for yourself!


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