7 Tips for Getting a Great Prom Dress on the Cheap

Prom season is coming, and it’s time to start thinking about buying a dress. Buying a prom dress is a rite of passage almost everyone has to go through and you’re probably already getting excited about it. However, it can be a very stressful time as well, especially if you’re on a limited budget. But that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality; there are plenty of ways that you can get a prom dress on the cheap. Here are a few ways that you can save on your prom dress.

Look for Sample Dresses

One way that you could save money on your gown is to go for a sample dress. Sample dress are dresses that you will find on the floor, but they’re usually sold at the fraction of the price. In some cases, shops will sell these samples through sample sales, but in other cases, all you have to do is ask if they have any samples available.

They might also have some dresses available that may have some imperfections. These are usually sold at a discount as well. If the imperfections are minor and you feel you could fix them yourself or have them fixed, you can still save money, so consider this option as well.

Check for Almost Perfect Sizes

Don’t throw away a dress simply because it’s the wrong size. In some cases, you could buy a dress that doesn’t fit correctly and have it tailored to fit you better. Most shops will already have a tailoring service on hand, but you could go with your own tailor as well. But, before you hand over your dress to a tailor, make sure you do your research on them first. Try to find a tailor that is both affordable or talented. You could go online for reviews and get recommendations from close friends as well.

Consider Renting

If you’re only going to wear that dress once, why don’t you consider renting it? Renting a dress is a great way to get a better dress for the cheap and there are tons of options available nowadays. Many shops online and offline will allow you to rent dresses and some bridal shops will offer rentals on bridesmaid dresses, which can also work as prom dresses.

Make your Own Dress

While this option isn’t for everyone, you could always consider making the dress on your own or with the help of someone you know. However, you have to have basic experience with a sewing machine and be armed with a solid dose of patience.

One of the pros of making the dress yourself is that you can customize it all you want and really let your imagination run wild. However, don’t expect to get a couture level dress if that’s your first time sewing anything. And you also need to be reasonable when choosing materials. However, if you feel that’s within your scope of expertise, you can check for patterns online that are relatively easy to do on your own.

Customize an Older Dress

If you aren’t 100% solid on your sewing skills, this is another option you could consider. You could pick up an older dress of yours and make it over. You could add accessories, add new fabric, or have it shortened or lengthened.

Do a Dress Swap

Do the rounds and ask your friends if they or someone in their family might have a prom dress they aren’t using anymore. A lot of people keep old prom dresses and won’t mind doing a swap with you or simply giving it away if they have one that is collecting dust.

THE O.C., Cam Gigandet, Mischa Barton, Benjamin McKenzie, Navi Rawat, ‘The Party Favor’, (Season 3, aired April 27, 2006), 2003-2007. photo: Greg Schwartz / © WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Buy it Online

One of the easiest ways to get a huge discount on cheap prom dresses is to go online. But before you do so, there are some things you have to know to make sure that you’re satisfied with your experience. First of all, make sure that you double check their return warranty. You have to pick a shop that will allow you to return or exchange a dress.

Also, make sure that you have your measurements professionally taken by a tailor. This is critical. Some sites will give you instructions on how to do it yourself, but there still is some margin for error. So, make sure you have a tailor do it for you to get the best result.

You should also consider which type of shoes you’re going to wear with the gown, as it will make a huge difference on which dress you pick. Depending on whether you are going to wear high heels or flats, you might need to adjust the length of the dress accordingly. Also, make sure you consider indie retailers, but only if they have a verifiable reputation.


These few tips should allow you to get a great prom dress on a budget. Make sure that you take your time and consider the options at your disposal, so you can make the best deal possible.


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