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There's no denying that formal prom dresses can be pretty expensive. And yet, most girls are willing to pay just about any price to feel like a princess on the most important night of their young lives. Unfortunately, it's generally the parents that end up footing the bill for some outlandish and extravagant dress that their daughter will wear only once. On the other hand, this is a special night and you don't want the apple of your eye to feel like Cinderella sans the fairy godmother. But what can you do? The recession has put a serious crimp in your budget and you just can't seem to justify spending hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on a dress when that money could be going into her college fund (or towards the mortgage). Luckily, there are a few options to help you get a prom dress that your daughter will love for a lot less. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started.
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You're not the only one on the block with a daughter, so ask family, friends, neighbors, and even coworkers if they have a girl in the house looking to get rid of a formal dress that has been gathering dust in her closet since her own prom (bridesmaid dresses are another option). Always remember that a dress that doesn't necessarily suit your daughter's taste (or size) is merely a springboard that a seamstress can turn into a one-of-a-kind gown that is custom-tailored to her wants and needs (and it will cost you a lot less than buying brand new).
2. Check the sale rack.
In just about every store there is a sale rack of dresses that may be out of season, oddly sized, or slightly damaged in some way. Although your daughter won't find the “perfect” dress, she is likely to discover at least a couple of truly fantastic formals that require only minimal tailoring to reach her pedestal of expectations. And with a discount price to start and a few bucks extra for alterations you're looking at a custom dress for less.
3. Buy off-season.
If prom is something that you know is coming up in a year or two, start looking at dresses this year after prom season has ended. The selection may be somewhat picked over at that point, but you can still find some stunning gowns both in store and online for a fraction of what they were going for at the height of the prom buying spree.
4. Try second-hand.
You might be amazed by what you can find on sites like eBay and Craigslist when it comes to formal dresses. You can get practically new designer duds for a pittance. And don't forget to look in your area for dress rentals. For very little cash your daughter can rent the dress of her dreams for the night and then dry-clean it and return it to make another girl's dreams come true.
If you're a fair hand with the sewing machine, there's no reason you have to sift through pricy prom dresses in boutiques. Simply have your daughter provide you with pictures of what she wants so that you can whip something up for her (for only the cost of fabric, thread, and closures). Or you could take your fabric and photos to a seamstress for a custom dress. If the gown is simple you're sure to save a ton.
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