It’s okay to be a budget babe: Tips on finding the perfect outfit for formal

By JANIE HARRIS
Staff Writer

With Piedmont’s 2014 Spring Formal coming up on April 5, many students are wondering what you are going to wear. It’s hard to decide, but it is even harder to choose what to wear when you are on a college student’s budget.
A $200 outfit might make you look great for the night, but your bank account will be in tatters for a quite some time.
We find ourselves lost within all the advertisements for “the best deal for formal wear,” but what is the truth? How do you get the best look for your money?

Swap!
Almost everyone went to a dance at some point in their life, so pull your group of friends together. Make everyone bring at least one outfit they would be willing to lend someone for the night. If you get at least three people to be a part of this, I’m sure there will be something you can wear, and you will also be helping your friends find something to wear.
Want to know the best part? Swapping outfits with friends is free! Of course you can always re-wear an outfit that you wore to a previous dance as well. New accessories or shoes will make any outfit feel brand new in your eyes.

Thrift.
Macklemore was right, thrifting is awesome. Swing by your local thrift shop to see if someone discarded their outfit for formal from a previous year. Thrifting is usually a hit or miss, so if you don’t find anything the first time you go, give it some time. Stop by the store later to see if anything new has come in. Bonus: If you know how to sew, you can always alter a hideous dress or suit from the ‘80s into something absolutely stunning.

Avoid Department/ Specialty Stores.
Go to places like Ross, Marshall’s or T.J. Maxx. These stores love to sell the exact same stuff as department stores for a third of the price. Seriously if you look in the dress section in any of these stores for more than 15 minutes, I almost guarantee you will find a fabulous dress for under $30. And guys, they sell all sorts of inexpensive dress shirts, dress pants, and ties there (yes, they have bowties too).

Student Discounts
If these other options did not work for you, head to the mall, but don’t buy anything without asking one simple question, “Does this store offer a student discount?”
There are many stores that will not ask you if you are a student and will charge you full price even though they offer a certain percentage off to all students.
Why would you buy an outfit for $50 when you could buy it for $30?

The Internet
If all else fails, power up that laptop and go to the search engine of your choice. There are millions of websites that sell really inexpensive formal clothing. The only thing that could stand between you and your dream outfit is shipping.
Word of caution: Make sure if you do order an outfit online, you do so with plenty of time to spare. You do not want to find out the measurements were wrong the day before the dance.
In the end, it really doesn’t matter what you wear.
Thirty years from now, you will be making fun of what you wore anyway. The important thing is the memories you will make during the process of finding out what to wear, so have fun with it.
Bring your friends, and don’t stress out over finding the perfect outfit. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a great time at formal.