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Thrifted Formal Dresses: Sustainable Fashion with a Miss Finger Lakes' Outstanding Teen

by Carolann Verrioli

Sustainable Fashion with Marley Thomson: Miss Finger Lakes' Outstanding Teen

    My name is Marley Thomson and I am Miss Finger Lakes' Outstanding Teen! This title is part of the Miss New York and Miss America Organization. I earned this title in January and have loved my reign. As a titleholder, I have to make many appearances and my wardrobe has since increased tremendously. In pageantry, people often spend thousands of dollars on their competition and appearance wardrobe. Debating on whether to splurge on a wardrobe item can be a hard choice, but with second-hand stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army, ReUse center, and Thrifty Shopper, I can save so much money and help the environment. 

Marley in her chocolate brown thrifted prom dress.

For my prom dress, I thrifted this brown dress for $15. It is such an elegant gown that definitely doesn't look like it was only $15 - but that's all I paid for it! Many teenagers spend hundreds of dollars on a prom dress that they will only wear for one night. I find this absurd considering how many beautiful and unique prom outfits there are at thrift stores. To anyone who is skeptical about thrifting: just try it out! I used to be skeptical about thrifting, thinking "who would want to wear something used," but when I actually began thrifting it opened my eyes. Most of my closet is second-hand goods including dresses that I have worn as Miss Finger Lakes' Outstanding Teen. 

Marley in her thrifted, bright-red fitted evening dress with a tiara and "Miss Finger Lakes TEEN" sash

This past week I attended the Taste of the Finger Lakes event, an annual event that has food from restaurants all over the Finger Lakes region and funds charities that fight food insecurity. I wore a beautiful red dress that I thrifted and received so many compliments on! As a titleholder, it is my duty to promote things that help my community and thrifting is definitely one of them. Looking good in what you wear is not about the cost of the clothing but rather how it looks on you - which is not confined to an expensive price tag.

Marley in her thrifted dark-blue ball gown

One of my favorite thrifted pieces is the beautiful MacDuggal evening gown I wore on the Miss New York's Outstanding Teen stage. For a pageant evening gown it is easy to spend hundreds of dollars but including alterations, my gown was under $100. I am very proud of myself for finding the things I have found while thrifting, which is why I encourage EVERYONE to thrift.



Goodwill of the Finger Lakes is a not-for-profit organization supporting the Rochester and Syracuse area communities. Headquartered in Rochester, NY, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes along with Goodwill Vision Enterprises (formerly ABVI) have a very long and successful history of creating job opportunities and serving the community through the Good Neighbor program, 211/LIFE LINE, and our vision services. In addition, we have several Goodwill thrift store locations offering second-hand clothing for men, women, and children as well as home goods and other accessories.