Whether it’s a wedding, a prom, a big birthday event or a work do, affording an elegant dress for the occasion can be hard. But don’t worry – there are options out there to help you fund that dream gown.
Hit the sales
You can get great discounts on dresses by hitting up seasonal sales. The best finds will generally be out-of-season clothes such as summer dresses in winter. It’s worth buying for the next season to save you money – just make sure you do wear the dress when the right season comes around rather than letting it gather dust in your wardrobe.
Collecting coupons can also get you some great discounts. There are couponing sites such as RetailMeNot where you can find discounts for popular clothes stores.
The one biggest issue with hitting the sales is the chance that you might buy a dress that two other people are wearing at your next big formal event. Sometimes looking a little off the beaten track can be worthwhile for this reason. Shopping online can expand the range of products to choose from, although you won’t be able to try them on for size (you may be able to send clothes back of course).
Second-hand dresses can save you money – if you know where to look. Your average thrift store may have some surprise finds, but the majority of dresses are unlikely to be suited to a formal occasion. High end consignment stores may still have a second-hand ‘thrift’ section, which could be great for grabbing a cocktail dress or evening gown at a bargain.
Shopping online can also get you some great second hand dresses. You’ll find many a seller on eBay trying to flog their prom dress. Just be careful when buying online – you don’t want a second-hand dress with hidden wine stains or rips in it. Always quiz the seller about the quality of condition if they haven’t specified it. Multiple photos can also give you a better idea of the condition.
Hire a dress
You don’t have to always buy a dress outright. In fact, if you’re the type of person that only ever wears a special dress once, hiring is probably the best option for you. Dress hire sites charge a fraction of the price of buying, which could allow you to afford a top-of-the-range designer number.
The likes of RentTheRunway are most famous for this service, dry-cleaning each dress to immaculate condition so that it may as well be fresh off the hanger when you receive it. Sites such as this often have a $50 late fee, so make sure you return the dress on time. And whilst you can opt to buy a dress from these services, you’ll often be charged twice the retail value.
Try not to get sucked into renting accessories such as bags and shoes with hire companies, you may be better off buying and re-using these items.
Don’t forget to tap into your clothes network. If you have a friend or family member that is the same size as you, you may be able to borrow a dress from them for free. Of course, your fashion sense and theirs may not align – or may simply not want to admit that you like a dress your mother owns. However, if you’re particularly strapped for cash, it could be worth it.
Borrowing money is always an option too if you don’t have the current funds in your purse. Whilst instant payday loans get a mixed rep, they are an effective way of earning a little extra money to pay for an event that you may have forgotten about. Such loans do come with a fair bit of interest, but you can take them out regardless of your credit rating. Just don’t get into a bad habit of paying off payday loans with payday loans – borrowing should only be done on the rare occasion and not become a regular thing.
Sell expensive dresses you no longer wear
There may be some formal dresses that you already own that you no longer wear. This could be a dress from a prom from years gone by or even a wedding dress that you thought would make a good keepsake but has ended up in the attic.
Most of us can be reluctant to sell clothes, telling ourselves we’ll one day wear them. An effective way of culling your wardrobe could be to try the Oprah Winfrey coat hanger method. This involves placing all the coat hangers facing in one direction in your wardrobe. Every time you wear a dress, put it back in the wardrobe with the coat hanger facing the other way. After six months or a year, you’ll be able to tell which dresses you haven’t worn at all – these are likely to be the ones worth selling.
There are plenty of places to sell your classy dresses. Try to say no to the likes of Gumtree and Facebook Buy and Sell pages where most people will be looking for a bargain. Specialist sites are better suited. For selling a designer dress, try Rebelle – they’ll cover the cost of posting the dress to them and will then pay you once they’ve verified the dress for its quality and authenticity.
Similarly don’t sell your premium quality gowns to your local thrift store. A consignment store for second-hand luxury items will be able to give you a better price. It’s okay to get quotes from multiple retail outlets, especially if it’s a top of the range dress. Just remember to not try and drive too hard a bargain – the fact that it’s second-hand immediately devalues it, so it’s unlikely you’ll sell it for the same amount you purchased it for.