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The Broke Socialite’s...

The Broke Socialite’s Primer to Cocktail Dresses

Ring ring …

You: Hello?

The Other End: Wouldn’t you love to accompany me to a holiday party in two weeks?

You: Me? Well, I don’t have a thing to wear!

The Other End: Surely you can find something in two weeks. Come on! It’s going to be a blast.

You: I hadn’t planned this in my budget.

The Other End: I know; sorry ... but I’m happy to tag along as you shop for a dress.

You: Repeat after me: “You’re the best friend ever.”

The Other End: You’re the best friend ever.

A situation like this happens to the best of us and, consider this, things could be worse. If you’re on a budget and must find a cocktail dress that is stylish and fun, there’s more opportunity than you probably imagine. Take a deep breath, plot your course, follow the tips below and, before long, you’ll be confidently spinning around on the dance floor!

  • Whether you have $50 or $500 to spend, establish a budget.
  • Do your homework: know your body type and isolate what looks great on you, including color.
  • Be realistic: buy your size. Do not purchase a dress two sizes too small and convince yourself that you’ll squeeze into it within two weeks.
  • If possible, bring your shapewear when you shop, as formal clothing can run small. Let’s say it together: “Spanxx are our friends!”
  • Since we’re talking about friends, don’t forget to tailor where necessary, as well.
  • Whether shopping virtually or old-school in-store, have your most critical friend or family member by your side. Brutal honesty is paramount.
  • Where should you shop? Whether you’re plus, missy, or petite, retailers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bluefly.com, Belk, Loehmann’s, and the like are most always reliable. Look for coupons. Do also try—insert gasp—home shopping channels such as HSN or QVC ... you’ll be surprised.
  • Don’t forget your closet. If you shop what you already have, that leaves an allowance for a nice wrap, shoes, or accessories.
  • Speaking of accessories, grab a signature piece of jewelry. Layered bracelets are a nice look as are cocktail rings. You can find them inexpensively if you shop around. Do, though, remember the five item rule when it comes to jewelry—try not to overdo it.
  • Shop now for next year’s dress. As we approach the New Year, you’ll see prices plummet lower and lower.

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