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How to Buy Cheap Cocktail Dresses
Before beginning to look for the perfect cocktail dress, realize that there is a triangle of important qualities for finding a dress: appearance, cost, and time. The more you value one of these (cost in this case), the more you will likely need to sacrifice the others. For example, you could quickly find a cocktail dress, but it might be a hideous color and style that you hate. Or, you could find a cocktail dress that fits well and is a color you like, but it might have took you a week of constant searching to find. In all stores, you should start with checking the clearance section first, in case you find something that works. As you go along, pick the first dress that meets all your criteria, as it will almost assuredly be the cheapest option.
Decide how much time you are going to spend on this.After all, time is money. If you just want all this done as quickly as possible, you likely won't find much.
Decide what kind of dress you want. If all you want is a blue dress, or "something that looks good", then you'll have a much easier time. If you want a pastel blue dress, with one shoulder strap that has some beading details and a sweetheart neckline, then you'll have to settle on price.
If you just want to get this done as quickly as possible, go to step seven. If you have more time, start earlier and earlier in the list. If you have a full day to shop, or several evenings to shop before needing the dress, then start at step four. The earlier in the list, the more money you will likely save.
Go to a thrift store.Thrift stores have risen to fame, due to Macklemore and the like. They are still often a great choice. While they will not always have exactly what you need, they may have something that will work. The quality here will vary greatly, from high end designers to clothes that were cheap to begin with, and have been worn for decades. If you can find the right thing, it will be very cheap compared to normal. You can find a cocktail dress for -10 if you know where to look.
Go to a department store.You can also try a department store such as Target or Walmart. These stores will often have cheaper materials, so this step is skippable if you need a very high-end piece. However, many cocktail dresses only get worn once or twice, and some dresses at these stores will hold up to hundreds of wearings. This is the first step that will (almost 100%) guarantee a dress in your size, although again, you may not find the best selection. Browsing what they have available will take a lot less time though, as they have a limited number of styles, rather than a style for each piece.
- These are also better stores for plus sized or petite women, or women of varying shapes, as stores like Walmart tend to carry a larger assortment of sizes on the rack than higher end stores. The same is true for tall women, or women with large feet, or women who simply don't have the "standard" size many companies size for. You can find a cheap cocktail dress for -25 at a department store.
Go to a higher end department store.Check out a store such as a Nordstrom's Rack or Fred Meyer for your dress. These stores will generally provide a higher quality (and higher priced) piece than the above stores. The shopping experience is much the same as it is in the lower-end department stores, although often the sizing will not be as varied. If you fit into a dress size from 4-12, then you will likely have luck at these, but outside that range, they tend to have less available. You can find a cocktail dress for -50 at a higher end department store.
Go to a high end department store.These stores can include Nordstrom's or David's Bridal. This is where you go when you can't find anything else that works, and you need a dress that fits perfectly. With in-house tailoring at many locations, you would be hard pressed to not find something that works. That guarantee comes with a price though, which may not be what you're hoping for. You can find a cocktail dress at a high end department store for -100.
- All in all, if you start with the lowest end store you can find, and work your way up, you'll definitely save money over the "ideal" dress you want. Within those stores, finding the clearance section or coupons or sales will save you some additional money.
Video: TRYING ON CHEAP FORMAL DRESSES FROM AMAZON! SUCCESS OR FAIL?
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