| Beaded dress – found on sale at Dillard’s – $50 |
I also went through my photos and pulled out my favorite dresses to share with you. It’s really not fair that my husband only has three choices for his attire–it’s either his dress uniform, a suit, or a tuxedo!
| Jumpsuit – $30 – TJ Maxx |
I am always paying attention to the budget when I shop for these dresses. They can be hugely expensive if you buy them at full retail, and one year we went to TWELVE events that required long gowns. Obviously, I wear my dresses more than once, but I still have to be on the lookout for bargains.
First, I’m going to tell you my favorite places to find formal dresses, and then I’ll share a few other tips. These aren’t in any particular order, it’s just where I’ve had good luck over the years.
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| Borrowed black and white dress |
Interested in something more permanent? Coordinate a “dress swap” so that you can trade in the ones you’re tired of, and go home with several new-to-you gowns.
| Ann Taylor cocktail dress – TJ Maxx – $26 |
The off-season deals are fabulous at TJ, too. I snagged this turquoise dress for $15 in the dead of winter and wore it the next summer.
| Salvation Army -$18 – New with tags |
Consignment stores are great places to shop, too, but you will pay a bit more.
| Goodwill – $20 – brand new with tags |
When it’s time to rotate the dresses in the closet, they go right back to the thrift shop, too. It’s the circle of life, y’all!
I’ve used RTR once and the gowns I chose are below:
This dress was under $20 and the shoes were $15, plus it’s machine washable (my mother is smiling down from heaven as I type that!).
| Teal lace dress – $30 – Ross |
| Tideclothes beaded dress – $90 – Amazon |
If you follow the included sizing charts, it’s really not that hard to get the right size. Also, most of their listings include free returns, so you can always order two sizes and return one.
I’m awaiting this dress today for an upcoming school event:
| Ever Pretty Lace Dress – $54.99 – Amazon |
I’ll keep you posted on how it fits and the overall quality.
UPDATE: I really like the dress, and I LOVE the price. It’s super comfortable and very classy (think Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn). You will want to size up; I ordered two sizes and wound up returning the smaller one. There’s ruching around the waist and behind that is actually very flattering.
I had pneumonia in this picture but the show must go on!
Ebay is a great source of brand new, or gently used, formal dresses. I’ve bought and sold a bunch over the years. It’s also where I found a maternity formal to wear one year when I was fifteen months pregnant!
My daughter’s cotillion dress from last year was from Ebay. We bought it new and it was a great choice:
| Aqua flower girl dress – $40 |
This basic black dress with the waterfall skirt was a great buy, and I’ve been able to mix and match my accessories to make it look different every time I’ve worn it.
Check out Nordstrom Rack if you want to find even better deals!
Bridal stores are a great source of formal gowns, too. Check out their sale racks (or websites) for the best deals.
I’d love to hear your favorite places to shop, and if you have any fabulous steals that you’ve scored, be sure to let me know!
Thanks for stopping by~
Great tips Christy. The girls have swapped/borrowed on several occasions (homecoming/prom). They have also been able to wear several multiple times as the attendees at the events were different groups. In that event we didn’t mind paying just a little more knowing they would get worn more than once. Just wish they were closer in height and could share! (one is 5’4″, the other almost 5’10” LOL)
Yes, it’s always easy to justify a pricier item when you know it will be well-used. When I buy a basic black dress, I tend to buy higher quality for just that reason. XO, Christy
Rebecca Purdie says
All of the dresses are beautiful!
Debbie Nelson says
Great post, Christy!
you have always had a gift of classy thrift! I’m going to show this post to my 18 year old who thinks all formalwear is supposed to be new and pricey! thank you!
Thank you, Debbie! New and inexpensive is much better than new and pricey–good luck!
15 months pregnant… Haha.