Did you know that the average prom night costs over $1,000? These days, most families can’t afford to spend as lavishly as they used to. So without further ado, here are 49 ways to be a frugal fashionista on prom night.


GENERAL TIPS

   1. Buy your prom dress (and shoes, and jewelry, and accessories) from LuLus.com, of course! Cute clothes, reasonable prices and free shipping over $75.
   2. Plan everything well in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you’re more likely to feel desperate and buy something too expensive.
   3. As early as you can, start hoarding your allowance (or income from a part-time job) so you can afford to splurge when the big event rolls around.
   4. Always compare prices. Call around to at least 5 different shops before choosing a florist, tuxedo shop, limo service, etc.
   5. When in doubt, DIY. Why spend countless hours searching for something perfect AND affordable, when you can probably make it yourself?
   6. Keep a level head. Movies make it seem like prom is the most important night of your life. But in a few years, you’ll probably wonder why you got so worked up.

DRESS & ACCESSORIES

   1. Raid your best friend’s closet! No one will know that she wore the dress to a previous event; and even if they know, why would they care?
   2. Dust off that bridesmaid’s dress and give it another whirl. If you don’t have one, chances are you know someone who does.
   3. Go bargain hunting at your local thrift stores and consignment shops. In addition to being affordable, you can almost guarantee your look will be unique.
   4. Go bargain hunting online! You can find ridiculous deals on beautiful gowns and shoes on websites like eBay or Craigslist.
   5. Look for a shop that specializes in renting formal gowns, or check to see if your local bridal shops offer rentals.
   6. Choose your own fabrics and design, and make your dress from scratch; if you’re not handy with a sewing machine, enlist the help of a friend, relative or affordable seamstress.
   7. Check to see if an organization like Donate My Dress exists in your area; these non-profit groups provide free prom dresses to low-income teens.
   8. Look for a local prom dress exchange event; if you can’t find one, take the initiative and organize one for your community!
   9. See if you can borrow your mother’s (or grandmother’s) vintage jewelry and handbags.
  10. Head down to the bead store and make your own jewelry. If you’ve never tried it before, you may be surprised how it easy it is.

HAIR & MAKEUP

   1. Almost everyone knows one friend or relative whose hair and makeup always look fabulous; enlist their help on your big day, and thank them with a lunch or a return favor.
   2. Hit up the local beauty school for bargain priced hair styling and nails.
   3. Schedule an appointment at one of the beauty counters at your local mall. Buy the lipstick so you’ll be able to touch up throughout the night.
   4. Plan a Mary K or Avon party at your house the afternoon before the prom, and invite all your friends over for free makeovers.
   5. Host a manicure/pedicure party at your house; it’s easier (and much more fun) when everyone helps each other!
   6. Search YouTube for hair and makeup tutorials. Practice, practice, practice!
   7. Don’t spend a small fortune on tanning sessions; grab some self-tanning lotion at your local drugstore and fake the bake at home.

TRANSPORTATION

   1. Have your heart set on a stretch limousine? You’ll save money — and probably have way more fun — if you split the cost with other couples.
   2. If you live in a big city, consider downgrading to a chic, chauffeured but more affordable Lincoln Town Car.
   3. Make an appointment for a cab. But shop around beforehand, or you never know what might show up at your door.
   4. Really don’t want to drive? Ask a responsible older friend (or non-embarrassing relative) to chauffeur you for the night.
   5. There’s no law against driving your own car to prom. Just make sure it’s clean. Look for coupons to your local car wash, or just bust out the hose and the vacuum.

DINING

   1. Cook a romantic dinner for two. It’s less expensive than a fancy restaurant and sets a relaxed tone for the rest of the evening.
   2. Invite a few couples over and make your own restaurant. Ask mom and dad to cook and serve. Set up a few small tables, add candles and soft music, and enjoy!
   3. Eat a hearty meal before you go out, but splurge on a fancy dessert in a restaurant — especially if you usually say no to dessert. Prom Night’s a perfect excuse to indulge.
   4. If you choose to eat a restaurant, don’t go in blind. Look at menus beforehand so you’ll know which eatery has the food you want at the price you can afford.
   5. Imagine walking into your local fast food joint wearing tuxedos and ball gowns. If this sounds like hilarious fun, why not do it? It’ll make a great story some day.

FLOWERS

   1. Get a price quote from at least 5 different florists before committing to a purchase. Bonus points for price-checking 10.
   2. Choose less expensive flowers. Carnations are a traditional choice because they’re cheap and easy to dye in various colors.
   3. Skip the fancy florist and head to the grocery store. The selection is usually smaller, but you’re sure to find something you like. They are flowers, after all.
   4. Don’t go overboard with a massive bouquet. A few tasteful flowers will suffice, and it won’t weigh heavy on your arm all night.
   5. Get crafty! Make your own corsage and boutonnière using a few inexpensive materials from a craft store and flowers from the grocery store.
   6. Take advantage of your region’s natural beauty. Pick some gorgeous wildflowers, or ask your neighbors for donations from their gardens.

PHOTOS

   1. Let’s be honest; a lot of those professional prom photos look awful. Ask an artistic friend or relative to take pictures before prom, and forgo the expensive train wreck.
   2. Don’t have a talented photographer in your social circle? Trying recruiting a photography student from the local university.
   3. If your photographer uses traditional film, ask if you can buy the negatives and have them printed yourself.
   4. If you photographer uses a digital camera, ask if you can buy the files and print your photos at home.
   5. This may sound crazy, but consider (gasp!) not taking pictures at all. Just put the cameras aside, get on the dance floor and enjoy your big night to the fullest!

POST-PROM PARTYING

   1. If you live in a medium to large city, just take a stroll downtown. You may find live music and street performers, or just some great conversation and people-watching.
   2. Find a safe, suitable outdoor space and organize an evening picnic for two. All you need is finger foods, a warm blanket and a sky full of stars.
   3. Grab 10 of your closest friends and head to the nearest beach or lake for an old-fashioned bonfire and barbecue.
   4. Not every prom night has to be romantic. Why not throw some bowling shoes on under that formal gown? Or does evening wear go better with roller skates?
   5. Assuming your parents are cool with it, why not just party at home? They’ll be relieved, you’ll still have a great time with friends, and it won’t cost a fortune.

What did we miss? Leave a comment below with your best tips on how to save money on prom!