Finding great evening dresses on sale can be a challenge, especially if you need more than one dress, if you are a unique size or height, or if you have an extremely tight budget. But don't stress! Shopping relief is at hand with these tips for finding dresses that will "wow" your fellow event and partygoers.
Start with the basics: the good, old clearance rack. While you can always find decent sale evening gowns at discount stores such as TJMaxx and Marshalls, for an evening dress that you plan to wear to a concert, theater performance, ball or special event, consider higher-end retailers such as Macy's, Lord&Taylor, and Nordstrom. You're more likely to find a wider variety in colors, styles, and sizes.
"Sale" and "Clearance" are the operative words here, though: regular prices at these mall anchor stores won't just dent your wallet; they'll attack it like a hungry shark. If you have enough advance notice for your event, look for sales. Change of season is the perfect time to search for the right evening dress. Many retailers slash an extra 30 percent to 50 percent off already-reduced prices, and even offer coupons for further savings. The newspaper ad inserts in the Sunday paper or delivered straight to your mailbox are key for finding these coupons.
If your budget is so tight you need to squeeze pennies until they bleed, even a coupon on top of a sale on top of a sale won't cut it. Consider consignment shops and thrift stores for great sales on evening dresses. Chain thrift shops like Savers offer a wide variety of dresses (as well as plenty of pre-owned shoes and purses to add to your dress for a complete look), but will be on the higher-end of the used price scale.
Your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, or St. Vincent DePaul thrift shop may give you the cheapest options, but they'll also have the smallest selection. Your best bet? Look up ten or more thrift shops, call and ask if they have evening dresses in stock, and then map out an all-out shopping spree. Don't get caught up with any clothes or accessories that aren't evening dresses or you'll shop forever! Search long enough and you'll find what you need.
Your final option only works if you have plenty of time. Shopping online clearance sales at stores like Ann Taylor, Macy's online, or even Amazon.com (they're not just for books anymore!) will give you more choices, but you run the risk of sending many of your purchases back, as you can't try on the dresses until you receive them. Finding the right fit is critical, and you can't do that through a computer screen (yet! Who knows what's coming in shopping technology...).
With eBay, you spend less for used and new evening dresses, but the shipping time from the moment you win an auction and pay can be as long as three weeks -- and then you run the risk of having the item not fit properly. But for savvy shoppers who have more time than money, or who know which designers and sizes fit well, eBay can be a goldmine.