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Prom dresses: how NOT to end up overspending

prom dressesIn a few weeks’ time, hordes of teenagers will be going to Prom parties – and that means a load of hassle and expense for parents.

And it’s not just post-GCSE and A level students who may soon need formal wear. My 12 year old was invited to a school formal dinner because he was in the football team. As well as the expense of the ticket (for a three course dinner at a hotel) there are dress requirements: he would have to wear a suit. Of course, he doesn’t have one. He doesn’t even have a non-school shirt, his weekend wardrobe consisting of t-shirts/jeans. So I was relieved when he said he didn’t want to go – otherwise I would have had to buy the whole outfit and it would have got one outing, given that like all 12 year olds he’s growing rapidly.

If you’ve got a Prom on the calendar, you’re going to end up paying £100 or more for a posh frock – and similar for a cheapo tuxedo for a boy. According to research from MyVoucherCodes, the cost per wear of a dress (price divided by the number of times it gets an outing) is £13.33 – but that’s based on a frock costing £40 being worn three times. I suppose your daughter’s Prom dress might get more than one outing – but it’s unlikely, isn’t it?

So how do you save money on outfits? Your first call needs to be your local charity shop. I work occasionally in one and we have tonnes of Prom outfits as well as bridesmaid/mother of the bride outfits and 57 varieties of evening dresses. Some are ghastly but they are all in excellent nick (because, of course, they’ve only been worn once). If your charity shop doesn’t have any on display, ask them to look in the back: I bet there are a good few out there.

Or you could look to hire rather than buy: this makes environmental sense as well as being easier on the pocket. There are plenty of hire agencies online ranging from the upmarket to the cheaper. It’s worth checking out bridal shops too – they tend to hire out prom gear as well as wedding stuff. Or you could consider making a dress – look on Pinterest: there are lots of free patterns. Even easier: adapt a cheapo dress with jewels/net etc. Remind your teenager that it’s always good to look different...

If they insist on something new from a shop, then at least the crumbling high street works in your favour: there’s a sale at House of Fraser (example: a pink lacy dress down from £59 to £24). Debenhams sale has lots of suitable frocks – including a long navy item at £22. One tip: pay on your credit card for the protection offered – see Jane’s blog here – and our guide to credit cards here.

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Thursday, 16 August 2018