Ball gowns are special, made for glamour and perhaps for a single notable occasion. They need to look good, generous and luxuriously extravagant in time and in materials. A really beautiful gown should be re-used or displayed instead of hidden in a wardrobe; treat it as a special costume and it will be as interesting and valued as any antique find and as pretty as any picture.
The best way to display it is to pin the costume – be it gown, shawl or bolero – to a backboard, then to cover it with a specially made Perspex top shaped so that it bends back around the sides to fully enclose the work, keeping it dust and bug free. Framed costume looks really good in awkward and prominent spaces alike–along a corridor, above the bed head, to fill an alcove or above a side table or console–anywhere you might hang a good painting or mirror.
If you are lucky enough to own several that you’ll never wear again, or frankly they’re a bit mediocre from student days, then re-cycle the fabric and the trimming into lampshades, patchworks, throws, bedcovers or cushions.