Five Places to Find Prom Dresses on a Budget

Updated January 20, 2019

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Not everyone can drop serious bucks on a dress for prom (especially since you’re going to most likely wear it just once), so here’s five places you can scoop up a prom dress on a budget .

eBay: The online auction site is still is a good option for finding prom dresses on for under $100. Make sure to get the full measurements of the dress (clothing on eBay are often measured flat versus on a person/mannequin) and ask to see several high res pictures

Junior Leagues Thrift Stores: The key to purchasing a prom dress at a thrift store is that the dress shouldn’t look like you “purchased it from a thrift store”. Junior League, a national women’s volunteer organization, Thrift Stores tend to be located in wealthier neighborhoods and often have higher quality dresses (including a nice selection of vintage prom dresses). The prices can be a bit high (at least for thrift stores), but you can and should try to negotiate a lower price.

Cousin/older sister closets: Raiding the closets of a family member or close friend is great way to get a “new-to-you dress” without spending any money. If you’re going for a vintage look, you might want to even look into your grandma’s closet (yes, I know).

Swap Sites: Swap sites like allow you to “swap” something from your closet with something from another person’s closet. These are great places to find evening and bridesmaid dresses without spending any money.

Rent The Runway: You’re probably only going to wear your prom dress once, so renting a dress is a great option.  Plus, you can score a major designer dress (we’re talking Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, etc) for significantly less than the cost of a brand new dress from Macys. Note: make sure to place your dress request a few weeks before your prom to ensure you get the dress you want.

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By Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine,, Refinery29, and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.