The Gifted Gown Is All About Giving Back…with Fashion

Julia Rutland’s Indy nonprofit helps outfit kids for special occasions in style. Find out how you can get involved.
The photo depicts a group of girls posing for a photo in prom dresses.

The gifted gown logo“Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful” might just be one of my favorite sayings. 

To me, it means that no matter what: Be true to yourself and that makes you uniquely beautiful. At The Gifted Gown, that is the ultimate goal—to make sure everyone who walks in the door feels accepted and seen and leaves feeling spectacular. 

A graphic captioned "The Gifted Gown" depicting three models posing in gifted gowns.The mission is to nurture the social and emotional needs of our community through the gifting of formal wear. The Gifted Gown is also a judgement-free safe space for everyone who walks into the boutique. In 2011, founder Julia Rutland partnered with her local school district’s Prom Closet to help them gain exposure in the community and get more donations which included formal dresses, shoes, accessories—you know, all the high school dance essentials. The Prom Closet was a free of charge, no questions asked service, but only serviced students at a particular school.

This work led to a thought: “What if we held a gown event in the community that was open to everyone and we just gave gowns away for free?” And…The Gifted Gown was officially launched in 2013.

In its early days, the team started with 25 dresses, but they now have over 2700 and have been able to help over 882 people with the most special events in their lives. When you walk into the boutique (located at 3125 East 10th Street, Suite K), you will see racks full of beautiful gowns, all donated. To receive service clients need to make an appointment, and during their allotted time, they can look for and try on as many dresses as needed. Plus, they can find the perfect shoes, jewelry, and accessories to match free of charge.

As a volunteer-turned-board member, I can recall my first-time volunteering at the boutique. It was such a fun experience chatting with excited promgoers while they browsed through all the dresses deciding which color and style they had to have. It’s truly a special place and the smiles you see during appointments are priceless. The love Julia has for fashion fills the room and everyone who comes in can feel it too. 

Coming up next month is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Gifted Gown Sneaker Ball. This is an evening full of food, dancing, music, silent auction, a raffle, Kendra Scott Pop-Up Shop, Indy Maven Photo Lounge, and so much more. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, November 13th from 6-10 pm at the Biltwell Event Center. 

Clear your calendars, call your babysitters, and dust off those gowns, tuxes and sneaks and join in for a fun night out benefiting The Gifted Gown. As a 100% volunteer run organization all proceeds from the Sneaker Ball will help to sustain the Gifted Gown for another year. General admission tickets are $50 and can be purchased until 11/13 at 6pm.

Can’t attend the event but still want to donate? That is an option too! Text the word GOWNS to 44-321! All donations are greatly appreciated. 

All of our content—including this article—is completely free. However, we’d love if you would please consider supporting our journalism with an Indy Maven membership.

Related Posts