How to Save on Grad Dresses and Prom Dresses

Is it possible to save money on grad dresses or prom dresses? Absolutely. No need to break the bank just because it’s graduation time or prom time.

Hard to believe, but my youngest is graduating grade eight in June. Which as we all know means shopping and potential to ruin the budget. But shopping for prom dresses and grad dresses doesn’t need to break the bank. Here’s how we saved money on grade 8 grad dresses for both of our girls.


I’ve been a bargain hunter most of my life. It’s extremely rare for me to pay full price on major purchases. Negotiation is actually something I’m good at. For years we had to be super strict about our purchases and budget so old habits die hard as they say. Why would grad dresses or prom dresses be any different?


Three times now we’ve been in the position of shopping for grade 8 grad dresses, prom and semi-formal dresses. Two daughters and three dresses. One is in high school and there are more opportunities to go to fancy dances when you’re in high school. But every single time we’ve managed to save. In fact, those three dresses have cost us under $200 all together. FYI, if your child is graduating grade eight here’s a post about preparing them for the high school transition.


Wait, what? How can that be? Well as I mentioned I’m a bargain shopper. With a few easy tips you can survive and thrive with teenage daughters who need dresses for fancy occasions.
Here’s how we saved and looked fabulous as well.





Four easy ways to save on grad dresses and prom dresses:

1. Buy gently used.

When my older daughter was graduating from grade 8 I told her she could have any dress she liked that fit. I gave her wide-open budget at that time because I wanted her to feel good about what she was wearing and I felt generous to be honest. But my oldest daughter isn’t really a huge fan of shopping and she found a dress at Goodwill surprisingly I loved it. Her floor length turquoise dress was $17.50.


2. Borrow a dress

A couple of years later my oldest daughter and a good friend were dating and they had to go to a semi formal at school that was 20s themed. This time she came home with a dress she had borrowed from a  friend. It was a perfect fit and looked amazing on her.


3. Shop where savings abound

This year my youngest daughter is graduating from grade 8. Soon she will go away with the class on a 3 day grade eight graduation trip. She’s excited about that. We went through a period of time where she wanted to wear jeans to her graduation and I mostly laughed about that, but eventually she started to get a bit anxious because everybody else was shopping, or had their outfits already. So on the weekend I decided to pause and take her into Winners.


She tried on three dresses and fell in love with a long black fitted floor length gown. The dress has a peek-a-boo cutout in back. To be honest, even though it was only the third or fourth dress we’ve tried on in this entire process she fell in love with it and the price was so good that we ended up buying it. Grand total $75.


Now this dress needs to be hemmed. And we need a special bra because of the cut out back and I will buy a lovely age appropriate pair of heels. But it’s perfect. Again I could’ve gone higher on the dress and been comfortable with that but she found what she loved and we are both extremely happy with it.



4. Rent a gown

There are many services now also where you can rent a grad dress or prom dress. I am totally for it if it saves money, and reusing dresses is not a bad idea in my opinion. Buying things that you only wear once doesn’t sit well with me ever.
So here’s to saving money on grad dresses and prom dresses. I’d much rather have cash to spend on a cottage rental or a fun vacation getaway every year than a closet full of dresses my daughters have only worn once.

Is your daughter graduating this year or going to a special formal dance? Are you splurging or saving?


Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.