In Need of an Inexpensive Prom Dress?

Category School

"I want to go to prom but I can't afford a dress!" Helpful hints from the ThriftyFun community. If you have advice on frugal ways to get a prom dress, please post them below.


Note: Please do not post requests for buying or selling specific dresses here. Ebay, craigslist and freecycle are good sites in which to post that information.

Keep Your Options Open

I have several ideas for you. First, check thrift stores-- I have seen nice formal dresses at thrift stores before. Or think about making your own, or have a family member who can sew make one for you. For junior prom, my mom made my dress for about $40. For my wedding, my mom made my wedding gown for about $60. It is possible to save quite a bit of money by sewing your own formal wear. Another option is Ebay. Go to a store first and find a dress that fits well. Bring a measuring tape with you. Lay the dress out flat in the dressing room and measure it across the shoulders, bust, waist, and hips. Then look for dresses on Ebay with the same measurements. If measurements aren't listed, email the seller and ask. While you're at the store, look at the clearance rack--for senior prom, I found a dress on a clearance rack several months before the event for around $30.


You might ask family members or friends if they have anything you could borrow. A vintage dress might also be cool. Finally, be open-minded. You need a nice dress, but not the PERFECT dress. Once you graduate and move on to college or the workplace, prom will not seem like such a big deal, trust me. So don't spend countless hours searching for the perfect dress, just find one that is flattering on you, affordable, and dressy enough for the occasion. When you get married some day, that is the time to be concerned about the perfect dress, so keep that in mind and consider all your options as you shop. Have fun!

By Allison

Several Ideas

One idea is ebay, sometimes they have a good deal. Another idea is second shops. I lived above a wonderful shop that sold second clothes and there were many nice dresses there. Then there is the old standby, get a pattern and sew one!


By kate

A Vote For Ebay

I found my wedding dress on ebay for 19.99! Shipping was I think like 7 bucks! A semiformal wedding dress that fit me PERFECTLY and was NEW WITH TAGS for 27 bucks. Ya CANNOT beat that! Good luck!

By Kayla

Lots At Thrift Stores

You would find a pretty good selection at most Goodwill or thrift stores. Or consignment shops. I get the dress suits I need for work from all of those types of stores, and I always see formal wear.

By Judi in Orlando

OP Shops Or

Try OP shops, I work in an OP shop, and we get some really beautiful dresses from $12, they are generally in good condition, though it really depends on what shop it is, and of course what donations they recieve! So check those out and all the other suggestions, and i am sure you will find something great!


Also, even if you find a plain dress, you could use beading to make it look nicer. Good luck

By Susan

Thrift Stores Or Freecycle

Check out the local thrift store. Virginia has Good Will stores in most of the larger cities, but even small towns have thrift stores with great deals! You might also go to, join the group nearest your home and post a want-ad. Freecycling is free!Good luck from a fellow Virginian!


Classified Ads Or Formals On Sale

Many great ideas have been posted already, but I also thought of the classified ads in the newspaper. Many girls will only wear their dresses once and then sell them in the local newspaper. And also. right now all the stores have their formals on sale at bargain prices and I know you could find something that would work for spring. These days they wear black to anything, at any time of the year, and I know I've seen many black formals on sale at the mall. Good luck and have fun!


By Becky

Don't Trust The Size On The Label

One suggestion, NEVER go by the size on a label on formal dresses. They usually are bigger than the size posted so they can ALTER the dress to fit. So you may want to try a size smaller than normal. ALWAYS try on the dress, as alterations are big in formal dresses.

By Dee

Similar Request On ThriftyFun

Go to to find some more suggestions that were posted for a request very much like yours.

By Lynne

Ask Your Church Or School For Help

Thrift stores is a good place to start. Also some churches will have affilation with clothing donations. In my town, I worked at a church Clothing Closet where clothing was free to the needy. Also you might talk to the school counselor. They should give you some ideas.


By Joy Luster

Prom Dress Round Up

I don't know where you are but here in Richmond they have a roundup of prom dresses and let the girls have them for free or small amount of money. Ask your guidance counselor who should know about these exchanges. The YMCA has them here. Thrift shops are a prime source and wedding stores brides maid closeouts. Some of them would be fine prom dresses. Post your size for the board. See if your area has freecycle? Go to and look for the nearest town to you. People are so generous with requests. You are smart to shop early, you will find a lovely one. Have fun at your prom.

By Jill

Don't Forget The Accessories

Hi! It is the same way at my house, not alot a money for prom. So I shopped around and found my daughter's gown at Ross for $39.99 - beautiful. Just have to buy shawl and shoes and going to buy shoes that she can still use later but yet still dressey. And my sister is letting her use her necklace and earrings that just set the dress off. Girls, don't forget the jewerly for your hair. I going to buy my daughters at Claires.lynn

By melissa P

Prom Dress Resale

Organize with other prom moms a prom dress resale. Most of them have been worn only the one time but what can you do with them after the prom's over. Charge people a small fee for selling their dress and shoes. Don't take anything you wouldn't be proud to let your daughter wear. Hey I've got three in my closet.

Sharon from Ky

David's Bridal

You could also try the sale rack at David's Bridal. They have many locations. They currently have some prom dresses for 1/2 off on their web site, some which looked really smashing!

By Liz

Try Department Stores

All you have to do is go to a Macy's or Dillards and they have tons of dresses on sale. Some are as cheap as $10, usually those are short dresses, so I don't know exactly what you are looking for, but it is def worth checking out. And if you are going to Macy's, get a coupon out of the paper.

By Bob

Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!

By Janet (Guest Post)
July 11, 20080 found this helpful

You can also get one for free from "calling all fairy God mothers". There are others in other states Cinderella project, etc. I am in Arizona. Also you can donate yours to this project.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
December 4, 20080 found this helpful

Check out It's a new website that allows people to buy and sell used dresses. They get new ones posted all the time, so check back often and maybe you'll find something that works for you. Oh, and it's free to buy or sell.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Best Dressed Sale (Guest Post)
January 28, 20090 found this helpful

I Organize a Semi-Annual Kids Consignment Event in Southern NJ and we are going to have a special Prom Dress Section at our upcoming Spring/Summer sale. April 3-5 2009. Girls can consign and sell the dresses they no longer need and at the same time shop through dozens of dresses being consigned by other teens. We also sell children's clothing, books, toys, shoes and more size newborn through 16. For more details go to

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

Add your voice! Click below to answer. ThriftyFun is powered by your wisdom!


Holidays and Parties Parties SchoolJanuary 8, 2005
Summer Ideas!
Coronavirus Tips
Back to School Ideas!
Pest Control
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2020-07-17 08:07:09 in 1 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2020 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.