Friday, December 6, 2013

12 Days of Responsible Shopping: Black Tie Optional Edition

Appropriate for the ball, good for your budget, and amazing for your conscience.
it fits and it's free- thanks, sis!  photo credit: c

Tis the season for party dresses!  Our friends at SpouseBuzz have some great ideas for frugal formalwear, and as usual, we're ready to chime in.  Bargain shopping can be fun, but thrifting, borrowing, and trading are greener and almost always cheaper.  Buying a new dress for every ball is a heinous disservice for both your wallet and the environment.  (Textile waste is a huge problem.)  Below are three resources to get your sparkle on while looking out for your budget- and the polar bears!

Your Network:

  • Chances are, the closets of most of your friends are haunted by the ghosts of formals past.  Not the same size?  We've heard of that.  Your friends have friends that are your size.  To lay your mitts on those dresses, your options are as involved as organizing a dress swap or as slack-tastic as posting something on FB and asking friends to repost.  Here's some sample text:  Listen up, party animals!  I'm looking for a rockin formal dress to wear to the Military Ball.  If you or anyone you know has a size 14 evening gown to lend or sell, let me know!  I'll totally bake you a cake if you can bail me out of another trip to Unethical Department Store.  See?   
  • If you're not into organizing a dress swap (they are a lot of work), sniff around post (or base or camp) and find out if one of the FRGs is hosting one.  They probably are, whether you've seen fliers or not.  Check it out, bring a friend, and score a bitchin' free dress!  You can spend the money you've saved on refreshing beverages or your phone bill.  (You know which comes first, young lady.)  Just don't spill any on the free dress- it's going to be free for someone else in a few months, right?

Your Neighborhood:

Yelp is one of the best ways to find thrift stores in your zip code.  We recommend reading the comments and reviews of each store to get a good idea of the selection and price range they offer.  Keep in mind that hard-core thrifters have high standards and may not necessarily provide specific info about the formalwear available, so don't dismiss a poorly rated store too quickly.  Since formalwear is such a commonly donated item, many thrift shops with otherwise weak selections of high-end clothing racks crammed with worn-once (or not at all) gowns.

AmVets and other national organizations probably have a charity thrift store near you.  Raid their racks, score something rad and brag away as you bask in the compliments.

Google is your friend when it comes to scoping out the shops near your new home.  Yelp is awesome but may not be widely used in your area, but, fortunately, you are an intrepid world traveler.  Here's an opportunity for you to contribute to your community by finding those small and yet awesome businesses and putting them on the map with your review.  Try lots of search terms like "vintage boutique", "consignment shop", "recycled fashion", "dinosaur cocktail shaker" (I mean...), etc.  Don't give up.  Never give up- until you find a slammin' look for under $12.

Your Computer:

Etsy is a great, consistent source of party dresses- both vintage and new!

Rent the Runway is one of our favorite things ever.  For less than the cost of some random dress from Major Department Store, you can rent a big-shot label dress for your next big-shot event.  Best part- since you send it back, no need to fuss with donating or maintaining the damn thing after the ball.  Perfect for frequent movers, right?

Style Forum offers a killer thread of vintage menswear for all you ManSpouses out there- or ladies who want to tux it up!  (That's one way to avoid Ball Clone Syndrome)

Thrift Store Runway has an online fashion contest.  Check out their articles for inspiration from real shoppers and holds monthly contests with cash prizes!  The next time you score epic formal wear from a thrift store or vintage boutique, submit your photos of ball night fabulousness  show them how MilSpouses do it?  We dare you!

So, there you have it!  Most of the above methods have been tested by the editorial ninjas at SIMAAG and we are confident that they'll work for you.  (Remember, tailors are your friend.  Thrift prices + tailoring= a custom fit that makes the most of your everything.)  You are way too smart to waste time and money schlepping around department stores- especially this time of year.  Do yourself a favor by going vintage and tell us how it turns out!

No comments:

Post a Comment