Everyone wants a closet full of amazing dresses. However, not everyone is ready to pay hundreds of dollars per dress for the privilege! Luckily, there are ways to get an amazing collection of dresses without spending every last dime. While these techniques may not help you get the latest styles right off the runway, they will help you build an enviable collection that will never leave you wondering what you have to wear.
1. Shop Thrift Stores
First and foremost, thrift stores offer a great chance to snag an amazing dress for next to nothing. Many thrift stores do not bother adding too much difference in pricing between different designers; they are simply trying to move the goods out the door. Because of this, those willing to put in the time to look are sure to find some gems.
Of course, there are a few hacks that should be employed when doing this. First and foremost, think about where the thrift store is at, and who is likely to be donating. A thrift store in a more affluent neighborhood is much more likely to have more interesting pieces dropped off on a regular basis: a thrift store in suburban LA will almost always have more interesting pieces than one in Alaska. Additionally, find out when thrift stores are likely to put their goods out; many try to have a sale once a week, often indicated by stickers, so they can put out more goods the following day. Finally, evaluate the cost of having some pieces altered. If a great dress is only a size away from perfection, it may still be a deal to take the dress to a seamstress to have it adjusted to fit you perfectly.
2. Consignment Shops
While not as cheap as a thrift store, consignment shops and second-hand retailers often offer considerable savings over retail. Typically, the prices at such stores will be quite a bit higher than what one might pay at a thrift store, but they can still be a fraction of what retail pricing would be. Additionally, such stores are less likely to focus completely on volume, like a thrift store, and more likely to want to build a better relationship with their clients. As a result, customers are more likely to build relationships with owners and other employees, helping to be sure that when a particularly desired designer’s work shows up that they are immediately notified. Such an arrangement is a win-win for both the customer and the store.
Again, there are some tips to follow. Building such a relationship is definitely worthwhile, but it does take time. Because many consignment stores are small businesses, following them on social media can also help to not only build a stronger relationship, but also to learn of sales or new arrivals faster.
3. Social Media Groups
For those who prefer a more twenty-first century approach, social media groups offer a great opportunity to build out a closet on the cheap. Many buy, sell, trade groups exist on social media platforms that allow members to purchase dresses and other goods directly from the person selling them. This can offer substantial savings, as the only fees are typically payment processor charges and shipping. Additionally, these can help people build a sense of community, which comes in handy for finding out which thrift stores or consignment shops have the best dresses around. Best of all, it can be helpful to build relationships with other members so as to have multiple eyes on the lookout for that elusive dress.
4. Stalk Seasonal Sales
That is not to say that traditional retailers do not have a place. Major department stores, as well as the designers themselves, have sales throughout the year where dresses can be purchased for much less. One well-known dress maker is famous for their twice-annual sales, during which a $300 dress can typically be had for closer to fifty dollars. These sales offer a unique chance to get never worn before merchandise for prices that are similar to what would be paid in a thrift store. Of course, the typical guidelines apply here as well; by building a strong relationship with the people working at a specific store or department, shoppers can hope to find out faster about any deals or upcoming sales.
Of course, shopping at major retailers’ seasonal sales has other advantages as well. Many offer incentive programs to spend more during certain times of the year. These extra dollars can translate to substantial savings that, while they may not make a dream dress much cheaper, could put it much more within reach.
5. Discount Merchants
Finally, there are numerous discount department stores that typically purchase overages from each designer and sell them for much less. These stores, often located in suburban strip malls, offer a great range of mid-tier dresses, often for much less than they could be elsewhere found. While they do not run the types of sales that bigger companies do, they do not have to, since their dresses are already priced much more reasonably.
Of course, these discounters offer a secret advantage that not too many people know about, but it generally only useful in the most affluent areas. Some of them have the ability to purchase haute designer dresses straight from the designer, including some that were created only for exclusive sale. These dresses are often priced higher than any other option on this list, but with the knowledge in mind that there may only be a handful of them anywhere in existence. While it may cost several hundred dollars, it is a sure fire way to guarantee no one shows up wearing the same dress.
While building a closet full of dresses is not cheap, it is hoped that this list gives you a great starting point. Whether you are looking for a dress to match with flip flops, ginghamheels, or designer stilettos, there is always a way to find that piece for less.