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Friday, May 5, 2017

Getting a Bangin' Ballroom Dress on a Budget

About a month ago I talked about what type of dress you can expect to get at each price point. For many of you, I’m sure those prices came as a bit of a shock. I know that when I first dipped my toes into ballroom, it was a huge surprise for me to see how much money I was going to have to spend to have costumes that were even just passable. Of course, as I’ve become better acquainted with the sport and more invested in my performance, I’ve become more accepting of the price of costumes and somehow rationalized the “investments.” That being said, I know that for many dancers they either can’t or aren’t willing to spend over $1000 on a costume, and it’s important to know that you don’t have to.

The prices I discussed in my last post were for brand-new, custom-made, competition-ready dresses. There are, however, ways to get a top-quality dress at a bargain price, but it takes a bit more effort and flexibility. If you’re willing to either put in some elbow grease and/or accept that you’re not going to get a custom-made-just-for-you dress, you can certainly score a good dress at a decent price. This post will delve into how to do just that, but before I jump in too far, I want to clarify what I mean by a “decent price.” Realistically, you’re unlikely to score an epic dress for under $500, but if you’re willing to be flexible you can easily find something fantastic for under $1000. So how do you do that? Here are some options:

Buy Used:
Used dresses are an excellent option for someone looking to score a high-quality dress on a budget. Of course, it’s important to buy from the right places to ensure you’re actually getting a deal. Typically, it’s best to buy used dresses straight from the dancers. While rental services will often sell their used dresses, the dresses are typically in rotten condition and the price is still extremely high. Similarly, I recommend avoiding purchasing used from the designers, as they typically add a fairly large markup since the dresses are consigned and they want to make money, too. Buying straight from the dancers usually gives you the best bang for your buck, because the majority of dresses have only been worn 5-10 times, and you can often come in under $800 for a latin dress and under $1300 for a world-class (i.e. Blackpool quality) standard gown. If you're willing to slightly sacrifice quality, you can often score a standard gown for under $1000 and latin dresses for under $600. It is important to keep in mind that if you buy used, you’re responsible for shipping and customs charges. However, even with those additional fees, you’re still going to get a huge bang for your buck. One drawback to buying used is most of the dresses are coming from Europe, which means you may have a harder time finding something that fits the traditional American-style look, especially for Smooth. However, I still think it's worth taking a look, because American and International costume styles have become increasingly similar over the past several years.  Another drawback is you often can't return the dresses, so make sure to triple-check your measurements before you buy! My favorite resources for used costumes are Dream Gown and Dance Plaza - they both offer a huge variety of dresses at great prices, and I've had friends purchase happily from both sites on multiple occasions.

Get Crafty:
Another excellent way to save big and still get a top-quality costume is to stone the dress yourself. Rhinestones contribute significantly to the overall cost of a dress, as most designers apply a bit of markup to the stones themselves and also charge for the time it takes to apply them. Further, most top-quality designers only want to use Swarovski. While Swarovski is the industry standard, they are also the most expensive. Decorating the dress yourself gives you more options when choosing which stones to use, which can help save money. If you choose to stick with Swarovksi, you can purchase the stones wholesale from sites like Harman Imports or Rhinestone Guy, which can save you a lot of money in markup and labor costs. If that's still too pricy for you, stoning the dress yourself gives you the option of going with less-popular, but still good quality, stones like Preciosa and STAR BRIGHT, which most designers won't use. 

Customized Chrisanne Practice Wear:
A little known service that Chrisanne-Clover offer is the ability to customize their practice wear. For an extra fee, Chrisanne-Clover will fully customize their practice wear, which creates a good-quality costume at a more affordable price point. Unlike Chrisanne-Clover Couture, the design won’t be made just for you, so you’ll see the style on other people. However, they will make the costume in any color you want and apply any decorations you want, which does make the dress unique. This means you’re getting a top-quality, semi-custom costume at an affordable price.

While I hope this post provided you a bit of insight on how to get a bangin’ dress on a budget, I’m sure it also left you with a lot of unanswered questions specific to each of the above-discussed options. Worry not! I’ll dive deeper into each of these options in upcoming posts. In the mean time, just hold tight knowing that it is possible get an epic dress on a budget!

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