Frugal Living » Frugal Prom Tips- Where to find a Free or Dirt Cheap Prom Dress

Frugal Prom Tips- Where to find a Free or Dirt Cheap Prom Dress

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Prom is right around the corner and if you have a teenage daughter, you’re probably already hearing about it! This is one area that I hadn’t really considered, having teen guys in the house, until a friend of mine disclosed to me that she’d just spent $225 on a Prom Dress! That’s just 1 dress, not an entire wardrobe! Here are some tips for finding a free, or inexpensive prom gown . . .


Free Prom Dress Options:

Organize a Dress Swap– If your daughter has a big group of friends (or perhaps some of your co-workers have daughters the same age) organize a dress swap at your home. Have each of the girls bring 2 dresses from their own closets (in decent condition, of course) and let them swap back and forth to their hearts content. This is the most frugal option, as it doesn’t cost a thing, shy of a few snacks to have on hand for the Dress Swapping Party!

Donate My Dress: is a national network of local dress drive organizations to help young ladies discover where they can donate their own unwanted dress, or get a dress for a special occasion. Click her to locate an organization near you that offers free prom dresses: Search by State

Becca’s Closet– Becca’s Closet is an organization that collects and distributes dresses and gowns to High School girls (with financial need). Whether you need a dress or have a dress, shoes, services or accessories to donate, please contact a local chapter for more information. Visit their site to view local chapters


Prom Dress Shopping on A Frugal Budget

Where to Look for Deals:

– Craigslist can be a wonderful tool for finding used dresses at a great bargain price. Check your local listings to locate deals on used (and sometimes new) gowns.

Facebook Local Swap Groups-
Another option you might not be aware of is that most towns now have a local swap/trade group on Facebook. To view these listings, login to your facebook page, at the top enter the name of your town and the words “swap and sell” or “for sale, wanted or free”. This might be a great, inexpensive option to get together locally with other moms/teen girls for organizing a “Dress Swap Party” as well.

Ebay- If your daughter knows her size and doesn’t need to try on a dress before she buys, Ebay often has some great deals on prom gowns. Just be sure that the seller has good ratings before you hit the “buy” button! You want to be sure it will be shipped in a timely manner.

Thrift Store Shopping:

You would be absolutely amazed at the Gorgeous dresses available at Goodwill & Salvation Army stores, MANY of them with the original tags still on them! Most of the dresses can be purchased for under $25. Although the dresses are clean at the store, you can have it dry-cleaned for your daughter for $10-15 at your local dry cleaner. Still a bargain $35-50 considering most of the dresses we’ve seen are running upwards of $200 or more!

Outlet & Discount Stores-

Stores such as TJ Maxx and Ross often offer great deals on gowns at very affordable prices, be sure to check out the clearance section as well.

Cheaper Designer Dresses

Rent Designer Dresses! If your daughter really wants a designer dress just for this one big night but you can’t fathom spending that kind of cash, offers designer dress and accessory rentals for savings of up to 90% off and each rental includes two sizes just to ensure the right fit – at no additional cost! Be aware that the rental prices Start at $75 and go up from there! RentTheRunway

Beauty on a Budget – Prom Hair & Make up Tips:

Do you have a Cosmetology School located nearby? Often times the students offer discounted Hair, Nails and Make-up, for considerably less expense than any beauty salon, just remember, even though they’re just students, they still appreciate tips!

Flea markets and consignment shops are wonderful for finding costume jewelry to enhance that special gown. A 16″ necklace featuring stones or resin pieces with strands of glittering gold or silver will certainly make the outfit sparkle!

Share your Tips and Ideas:

Do you have a tip for finding an affordable Prom dress, gown or accessories? Please feel free to share them in the comments below . . .
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / monkeybusiness


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6 thoughts on “Frugal Prom Tips- Where to find a Free or Dirt Cheap Prom Dress”

  1. i purchased a very nice dress at salvation army. for only $1.50 my daughter will be dressed in something Audrey Hepburn might have worn. I LOVE the thrift shops.

    • I purchased a very nice dress at Salvation Army. For only $1.50 my daughter will be dressed in something Audrey Hepburn might have worn. I love the thrift shops.

      i also think thrift stores are perfect for great clothing finds.

      it does take time but i have two brand new stores within a half mile of my home….goodwill and salvation army as well as a new store called “clothes mentor”. i find wonderful blazers there for 5.99 and great Clarks shoes that have never been worn. Look for a” Clothes Mentor” in yourarea as you can get cash on the spot for gently used clothing or apply it to a purchase of a new dress from their store!:idea:

  2. if you live near indianapolis, in or shelbyville, in there is a store called blessed to dress
    1640 E. State Rd. 44, Shelbyville, IN 46176 317-398-9808 – it is a ministry and they have dresses that look like they have never been worn plus accessories.

    Worth the drive there!

  3. instead of dry cleaning which is super expensive, you’d be amazed how well a formal dress washes in the washing machine! when you buy a used dress, try cleaning it yourself. if you got it super cheap, you’ve really got nothing to lose.

    i know for experience as i washed my daughter’s prom dress on delicate in cool water in the washer. i pre-soaked it for 15 minutes before putting it through the cycle. Then I hung it outside on the line.

    There weren’t even any wrinkles and it smelled fresh and looked fantastic and did not shrink!

    a few years later, my daughter was married in an outdoor ceremony and the dress was a mess by the time the reception was over. she stored the dress in without having cleaned it for a year! i finally said that i’d clean it, so i took it home and you guessed it…washed it in the washer!

    i hung it on the line and the neighbors asked me why in the world i had a wedding dress on the clothesline. i told them and they were shocked that it turned out beautifully! no more dry cleaning for us!

    by the way, i’ve even washed my suit jackets that i’ve purchased used…same method! also real suede jackets go into the washer and dryer…they turn out perfect!

  4. i know there lots of places for discount dresses but i have a son and renting a tux can run about $300. How can I cut costs on a tuxedo?

  5. Cheers,
    Our eldest son played in the band for high school and he was required to have a tux. We were able to purchase tuxes, at a very reasonable (the purchase price was less than the cost of one rental), at a local tuxedo rental store.
    Our daughter dances competitively and she just purchased a formal dress and nice but less formal dress at for a very reasonable cost.


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