Prom-tastic Fashion for Less

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Paying for clothing, sports, field trips, and every other high school activity is taxing on the bank book as is. Then, Junior and Senior Proms loom, costing more every year. Isn't there a better way to have fun without hurting the wallet?


Plan Ahead

Girls spend hundreds of dollars on dresses which can be bought at reasonable prices. Plan ahead for next year, and shop for dresses on sale after the holidays. Often formal dresses find themselves with yellow clearance tags during the week of Christmas and the week after New Year's. Post prom is a great time to find next year's dress on sale as well.

Hit the Racks

Need a dress now? Shop the bridal shops and head for the clearance rack. Often great dresses find their ways there because they no longer can be ordered for weddings. However, if you can find your size, you can get a great deal. Don't overlook the basic dress. With some stellar accessories and a few sewn (or pinned) additions they can really pop.

Ties and Tails

Guys can save money on their tuxedos as well. Brand name and pricey tuxes are still basic black suits. Instead, opt for a cheaper tux and add some accessories that shine. While the suit itself is one purchase, the cummerbunds, vests, and ties are separate; splurge on these little details. The details are what get noticed.


Pair and Share

Try a dress swap. What did your friend wear last year? Do you wear the same size? Get together with friends and swap dresses. Then, pair different shoes, different accessories, and a new hairdo.

Host a multi-school fashion show where girls can bring last year's prom dresses, and others can "bid" on which one they want to buy. Give a portion of the bid (half works well) to the original owner of the dress, and give the other portion to a local charity. Check with schools' rotary club branches for help with the organization of the event.

Surf the Web

Would you wear a dress more than once? Think of possibilities such as eBay or resale stores. One can find a dress on eBay for a relatively low price, and many are brand name designs which were worn once. The market is usually flooded with dresses, keeping bids low. Be sure to check measurements as well as sizes; eBay sellers will answer questions that you have before you bid.


Return the Favor

Once you find your frugal favorite, return the favor. Donate your dress to an organization which allows girls to purchase dresses for all formal occasions at minimal prices. Most of these organizations operate under the Cinderella Project which has many local branches; check for drop off areas or mailing addresses on their websites.


About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at


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