Don't get stuck in a pricey formal clothing trap!

5 Ways to Save Money on Formal Clothing

by Rachel Barnard


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It's ironic that formal wear (clothing we wear to events like weddings, proms, and homecoming soirees) are often the most expensive yet least worn items in our closets. Yet somehow we still convince ourselves to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on a floor length gown or suit that we'll only wear a few times.

Don't get stuck in a pricey formal clothing trap! It is very plausible to find a well-priced, well-fitted gown among the racks for any formal event. You just have to use a little ingenuity to find your perfectly-priced fit by using the following five money-saving tips…

1. Set a budget and stick to it!

One way to fight the urge to buy the first high-priced gown that flashes some pretty sequins in your direction is to set a realistic budget and force yourself to stick to it! It's good practice to always have a shopping budget in mind for formal events so you don't overspend or submit to an expensive impulse buy that you'll end up regretting.

2. Be thrifty in consignment stores

You'd be surprised at the classic designer labels that you can find in thrift stores and consignment clothing boutiques at a fraction of the price of the mall. Plus, you're sure to find a unique formal gown or prom dress at more vintage focused consignment shops who only take quality items from clients. You could also make a little money by taking in some of your own gently used clothing to sell on consignment. This will fuel your dress shopping and you'll likely find an outfit that no one else will have a duplicate of at the event.

3. Shop the sales

You can ensure a well-priced formal find simply by shopping for dresses and suits that are on sale. Start your dress hunt early so you can target particular sales at stores that you like. For example, larger department stores like Nordstrom or JC Penny usually have seasonal sales several times a year.

4. Steer clear of the trends

Fashion trends are just passing fancies that won't last longer than a calendar year or a season. Focus your formal clothing search on classic items that you will be able to wear again and again. You can buy a versatile gown or suit in a classic style and neutral color (like black, white, tan, or gray) and get the most out of it by dressing it up with trendy accessories like ties, belts, jewelry, shoes, and makeup.

5. Shop for multi-purpose formal wear

Dual-purpose clothing is a smart bet when it comes to formal wear. What I mean by that is to look for dresses or suits that you can get frequent use out of. For instance, look for items that you can:

  • Dress down to wear to the office, but dress up to wear to a formal event

  • Wear to multiple functions due to its basic color (brown, black, navy blue, and gray) and versatile style

  • Buy separate pieces like skirts and matching tops or dress pants and matching shirts that you can also break up and wear with other clothing in your wardrobe

Rachel Barnard is a self-confessed shopaholic and contributing writer for Style Cynics, a fashion and celebrity gossip site featuring the hot styles like the latest range of prom dresses and homecoming fashions.

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