Not only is it a challenge to find modest prom dresses, it’s also a challenge to find affordable prom dresses! Of course you want to be elegant and glamorous, but you probably have a spending limit.

You might think that being economical sounds boring, dull, and limiting, but it’s not necessarily. Being economical can actually be really fun, because it can be so creative.

In fact, being economical may give you more options, not less: the more economical you can be, the more money you’ll have left over for other things you might want – like flowers, accessories, having your hair and nails done, etc. You might even be able to get two or three dresses instead of just one!

Finding affordable prom dresses is largely a matter of planning ahead and being creative. Here are some ideas.

Planning ahead is the key

If you wait until you get asked to Prom, and you don’t get asked until a week or two before, you won’t have much time. You may be in a panic, trying to find a modest dress that is also modest in cost. Because you don’t have much time, it’s harder to consider all your options. Chances are that you’ll pay the going price – and a week or two before Prom, the going price is likely to be top dollar.

A better strategy is to plan well ahead. At the beginning of the school year, consider what formal dances will be coming up that year. Of course you don’t know yet what dances you’ll go to, but it’s probably worth planning for at least one dress. Perhaps you could sit down with your parents and plan your dress budget for the school year. Then you can be watching for prom dresses on sale, and shopping throughout the entire school year, instead of shopping in a panic at the last minute. This allows you time to take advantage of strategies like those that follow.

Watch for sales and bargains

Things are always cheaper off-season (winter dresses will be cheaper in spring, spring dresses will be cheaper in winter, Prom dresses will be cheaper right after Prom). If you plan ahead, you can watch for and find prom dresses on sale. A sale or a good coupon (or a combination) can really add up to big savings.

Buy used

A used dress will invariably cost a fraction of what it would cost to buy brand new. (Nothing depreciates faster than clothing!) If you plan well ahead, perhaps you can find a great used dress.

For example, do any of your friends have modest dresses they might like to sell? Maybe someone has an affordable prom dress they don’t want any more that they’d be willing to sell to you.

You can also look around on the Internet. For example, try going to eBay and doing a search. There are hundreds of them out there, and the prices go as low as $10 sometimes. Just be aware – you may have to sift through a lot of listings to find a modest prom dress. Most of the dresses that are available are spaghetti strap or strapless.

Consider browsing your local thrift stores. If you can find a modest dress at a thrift store, chances are it will cost you well under $100. Keep an open mind and be creative; the chances of finding your dream dress may be slim, but there are dresses out there.

Modest dress exchange

Can you set up a modest dress exchange or a dress sale? Maybe your friends and others in your school or community would like to sell pr trade their used modest dresses for one of your old modest dresses. This could be an economical way to get a different modest dress for each dance you’d like to go to.

Prom dress rentals

More and more, there are shops such www.ModestPromDressRentals.com where you can rent a modest prom dress. Usually a dress will rent for 1/3 to 1/4 of what it would cost new. Renting can be a great option, especially if you only want to wear a dress once. Some prom dress rental shops have a better selection than the mall!

Trade and borrow

Many girls may have an informal dress exchange, where they borrow dresses from their circle of friends and family members, or trade dresses either temporarily or permanently.

Consider sewing

If you sew, or if anyone in your circle of friends or family does, you might consider sewing a modest dress. Many simple styles require only minimal sewing skills.

If you do sew, consider these ways to minimize sewing costs:

* Look for cloth on the Internet. Here you can often find unusual and beautiful cloth that isn’t available in your local cloth store. And often, the prices will be much more reasonable than they are at a retail store – sometimes at or below wholesale prices. Wholesalers and suppliers to various clothing houses and costumers often advertise on the Internet. Or try going to eBay.com and doing a search on the type of fabric you want (stretch velvet, satin, silk, chiffon, and so forth).

* Select simple styles that require less cloth.

* Get on the mailing lists of your local cloth stores. For example, the national chain JoAnn’s often sends preferred customers coupons for 30%-50% off a purchase. When you are buying large yardage of expensive cloth, this can really add up.

* Use very expensive cloth & materials (such as lace and sequins) in small amounts, to best advantage. For example, use a very beautiful and expensive cloth for just the bodice or sleeves of a dress, and a less expensive coordinating cloth for the skirt. You need only a scrap of fabric for decorative details such as a softly cowled drape, trims, or bows. Jackets, shawls, and shrugs usually take a yard or less of fabric. You can make a little go a long way!

Bargain-hunt on the Internet

There’s all kinds of stuff out there, just a mouse-click away. One of the of the best places to hunt for bargains on the Internet is eBay. eBay is like a giant online tag sale, except instead of just buying things, you bid on them as you would at an auction. eBay is easy and fun to use, and you can find super bargains on all sorts of things. Start planning for your special occasion early, and you can save all sorts of money!