Whether it is for prom, a pageant, or a sorority formal, girls are constantly looking for that perfect dress that will make them feel like a princess. If you are in need of a dress that no one else has but that will still leave you with money left over for the actual event, we’ve got you completely covered! We’ve rounded up the best tips and tricks to help you find a showstopping dress within your budget! Read on to learn how you too can be the belle of the ball without breaking the bank!
How to Find Your Dream Gown Within Your Budget
1. Make a Budget
It is incredibly easy to get blinded by the rhinestones and swept up by the tulle. However, making and sticking to a budget is vital to saving money on an evening gown.
First, you should make an overall budget that includes everything you will possibly need for your event. For example, if you are prepping for a pageant you will need to include everything from pageant wardrobe to makeup to coaching in your budget.
After accounting for all of your necessities, you will be able to clearly see how much money you can put aside to cover your dream dress. (Read: How to Budget for a Pageant)
2. Stick to Your Budget
Now, making a budget is fairly easy. However, the hard part is actually sticking to that dreaded list. One way that you can ensure that you do not go over your budget is by only browsing dresses that fall into your price range. Walking into a dress store can be really overwhelming and it is easy to get blinded by the allure of pricier dresses, but don’t succumb to the temptation!
Honestly, trying on a dress that you cannot afford is possibly the worst mistake you can make. Once you fall in love with a dress it suddenly becomes all you can think about. You start imagining yourself on stage wowing the panel of judges along the way. That vision then leads into one where you are standing on stage being crowned the winner of your respective pageant.
A feeling such as this is really hard to ignore and the only way you can prevent yourself from having buyer’s remorse is by stopping the love affair before it even starts. (Read: Which Color Dress Wins the Most Pageants?)
3. Hit The Clearance Rack
Clearance racks get a bad rep when it comes to evening gowns. Usually, girls think of ugly taffeta confections or torn silk nightmares when thinking about the clearance section. However, there are some absolutely gorgeous gems hiding in the back of clearance sections across the country. Still, one must always be extra careful when perusing the clearance racks. A dress may still be outside your price range even if it has found its home in the clearance section.
In addition, you should also be mindful of potential damage to the dresses found on the clearance rack. If you can’t get past the potential tear or missing beading, continue shopping elsewhere. If it happens to be something that you can potentially fix or hide, talk to your sales associate or manager about getting a discount for the damage. You’ll be surprised at how accommodating a store will be when in the midst of a potential sale.
4. Consider Used Dresses
The majority of formal dresses purchased each year are only worn once. Therefore, what happens after your event is over and you need to start making room in your closet? You sell the gently worn dress of course!
If you are looking for a way to snag your dream gown without straying away from your budget consider browsing through some consignment shops for up to an 85% discount! No one will know the dress was used except you and the dress will look just as good the second time around. The best thing is that you can sell it back to the store once you are done with it!
5. Try Purchasing Online
It is truly rare to find a formal dress that will fit perfectly, and most formal dresses will require some sort of customization or altering. Therefore, you should definitely plan for this in your pageant budget.
Sometimes, you will be able to find discounted dresses online that can save you a ton of money. However, you must be aware of sizing differences. Typically, you should go up one dress size when purchasing from an online retailer. Additionally, pageant resale groups such as The Glass Slipper are a great way to rent or buy dresses.
6. Consider Renting
If you’re dealing with a sense of style that is more “classy-couture” than “cheap-chic,” there are many options for renting a designer gown. However, remember that a high price tag comes with responsibility.
Websites like RenttheRunway.com allow you to rent a designer gown for a fraction of the retail price. The cost to rent a formal dress on these websites ranges from about $30 to $700. You also can find local rental shops in your city. This option is the best of both worlds because you can still spend much less by renting and you get to try the product on before you pay to rent it.
7. Have An Open Mind
It is normal to have a certain type of dress in mind when hitting the shops! However, when shopping on a budget you must not be afraid of trying on dresses that may stray away from that perfect image. Time and time again pageant girls note that they did not fall in love with a dress on the hanger. It took actually seeing themselves in the gown to truly realize that it was their winning dress. Have an open mind because you never know what dress will win you the crown!
It does not matter how little or how much you spend on a gown. All that matters is the way you shine walking across the stage in that show-stopping ensemble. Also, do not forget that the more money you have left over after purchasing your dress equals the more money you will have to devote to other parts of your pageant budget. Best of luck!