Whether it's for prom, a wedding or to be your best friend's bridesmaid, dress shopping - with the endless range of styles to choose from - can be a headache… but it doesn't have to be expensive. Here are a few tips for staying well within your budget:
Check out last year's styles It’s okay! Most people won't have any idea you're wearing last year's dress, and you can get a steep discount by skipping the latest trends. Bridal shops and department stores often mark down the previous year's designs to make room for new inventory.
Ask about sample dresses and imperfections Sample dresses are the display models used in the store. Find out if your store has a sample dress sale, or if display models are ever on sale. Your store may also have a few dresses with minor imperfections such as tears or stains in non-noticeable places that you could repair yourself.
Scout second-hand stores Consignment shops and thrift stores can be excellent sources for secondhand wedding and other dresses – which have barely been worn. Whatever her reason for giving it up, the previous owner is willing to get a reduced price just to clear some closet space. This can mean huge savings for you.
Customize a vintage dress Another great way to use thrift shops to your advantage is to find an older or vintage dress, and alter or embellish it to suit your taste. You can add fabric, change the length or sleeves, and make other small alterations to make it your own. This method can also breathe new life into an old dress in your collection. For example, the bridesmaid dress you wore to your friend's wedding last year can be altered to serve as your daughter's prom dress this year.
Hunt for deals on used dresses Craigslist, eBay and your local newspaper are all great places to look for a gently used dress at a great price. It may take you a little longer to find your size (or you might have to pay a seamstress for alterations), but you might find a big bargain by shopping this way.
Rent Finally, if you can't find a dress within your price range, you may be able to find the perfect rental. For single-wear events like prom, this may be the best option, since you won't be spending hundreds of dollars on a dress you'll never wear again.
About the author: Freelance writer Angie Mansfield covers a range of topics for both small business owners and consumers, including spokeo.