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Bridesmaid who “didn’t love” her dress spends 35 years wearing it around the world

Rather than shoving her once-hated dress to the back of the closet, one former bridesmaid repurposed the wedding garment she “didn’t love” and has worn it around the world for the last 35 years.

Rebecca Whitlinger has now made the dress her trademark, taking it with her as she travels from Peru to Iceland and London. Her short-sleeve gold sequined gown, originally worn at her best friend’s wedding, is featured in every other picture on the Pittsburgh native’s Instagram.

What’s more, the associate director of the non-profit organisation Cancer Bridges published a book in 1999 focused on her experiences. Titled Always a Bridesmaid: 89 Ways to Recycle That Bridesmaid Dress, Whitlinger detailed strategies she’s utilised to make the fancy garment wearable after its big debut down the aisle.

Speaking to Insider, Whitlinger opened up about her journey of turning a special occasion piece into an adventure. According to her, she didn’t fancy the shimmery gown from 1988 at first.

“I don’t think anybody loved the dress really, but we were excited to be at the wedding, and that’s the more important part,” she confessed. Whitlinger was speaking on behalf of her fellow bridesmaids.

“So I wore it, and the bride, wanting to be very kind to her bridesmaids said: ‘Oh you can wear it again,’” she continued.

In Whitlinger’s mind, that wasn’t a bad idea. She got inspired to start squeezing the custom-made dress into her suitcase every time she went on a trip, thinking there may be at least one opportunity for her to wear it.

“And while you could say it’s a hobby, it only takes one minute to throw the dress on. I could do it now if you needed to see it,” Whitlinger noted. “It doesn’t occupy a ton of time. I take the picture and move on, usually into a better outfit because I do care about what I wear.”

A garment once detested turned out to be a sight to see against the most beautiful backdrops across the globe. But Whitlinger’s quest to wear the gown didn’t begin with the wild expeditions she takes now. The author explained how bridesmaids can start small like she did – at a grocery store or local establishment.

She encourages young wedding parties to not be afraid to wear their momentous apparel outside of a party setting.

“I’d rather wear a formal gown to go grocery shopping than a tracksuit,” Whitlinger proclaimed.

And why not mark other meaningful milestones with the elegant piece as well? Whitlinger sure has.

The innovative individual told Insider her gold dress is present in many passports and driver’s license photos taken within the last three decades.

The Independent has contacted Whitlinger for a comment.