In high school, I rarely had any money to speak of (some things never change — hah!). So, when my junior prom rolled around, my after-school gig scraping together tips from bussing baby-chewed pizza crusts wasn't going to pay for a $1,000 bedazzled gown. Besides, why would I want to drop that kind of money on a dress that I would wear once while I sweat the night away dancing to Lil' Jon for six hours?
Plus, the puffy, wallet-gouging Cinderella dresses weren't really my style. I was "alternative" and obsessed with international Vogue (I was super cool, OK?!). So, as an enterprising 16-year-old, I did my runway research, hopped on eBay, and bought a knock-off blue Chloe dress from the summer 2005 runway for about $80.
I know knock-offs aren't the best, but I was 16 so cut me some slack! Also, Etsy wasn't a "thing" at the time. If it was, I would have been on that site, scouring for a prom dress — their selections are amazing and inexpensive. It's basically eBay 2.0, with cool girls only.
If you're short on cash and super sexy prom dresses covered in cutouts aren't your style, then I recommend looking at Etsy for something that is classic, unique, and maybe even rewearable — unless, of course, you spill prom Kool Aid all over yourself.
The Breathtaking Floral
I hate bright colors and all florals but I’d definitely make an exception for this dress because it is jaw-dropping.
Sunflower Print Dress, $149; etsy.com
The Megan Draper
The color, the cut, the length — it’s like a thousand angelic cherubs will be singing in unison as you walk down that promenade. Get it, girl!
Vintage 1970s A-Line Dress, $65; etsy.com
The Betty Draper
It’s vintage, it’s classic, and it has that classic Betty Draper understated sexiness without showing your butt crack like other prom dresses.
Vintage 1950s Novelty Print Dress, $250; etsy.com
It’s so Roman Holiday and that matching coverup is perfect for proms in northern states where spring doesn’t necessarily mean balmy weather.
’50s Pale Pink Prom Dress, $125; etsy.com
The Angled Dress
The silhouette is really cool, plus the linear cut-outs are sexy but not inappropriate — there is a huge difference.
Short Prom Dress, $85; etsy.com
If I had enough balls in high school, I would have worn this number with combat boots a la every cool girl circa 1994.
’90s Formal Blue Prom Dress, $65.88; etsy.com
The Re-wear and Re-wear
The good thing about this piece is that you’ll could pull it off atbridal showers and weddings for many years to come.
Sleeveless Short Cocktail Dress, $100; etsy.com
The Statement Maker
Hello, bold print! No crazy updos or accessories needed — this gown stands on its own.
Strapless Evening Gown, $94.11; etsy.com
It’s pretty, classic, and simple — the type of dress you glam up with your hair or jewelry.
A Line Navy Blue Sweetheart Dress, $168.99; etsy.com
You still get that long-form Cinderella silhouette sans the heaps of fabric!
Dark Purple Dress, $98; etsy.com
The Wear Everywhere LBD
Thank me later when you have a little black dress to wear at every single event for the rest of your life.
Short Black Prom Dress, $82; etsy.com
Prom in the early ’90s must have been the COOLEST. Everyone listened to Nirvana and made like Drew Barrymore in slinky velvet dresses.
Velvet Fitted Maxi Dress, $52; etsy.com
Simple yet so smoldering. Plus there’s that Angelina Jolie peek-a-boo sexy leg!
Black Off Shoulder Asymmetric Maxi Dress, $165; etsy.com
You will be the shiniest thing on the dance floor! Just beware the camera flashes — you might blind your date.
Silver Diamond Dress, $130; etsy.com
The Classic Prom
The floor-length and simple detailing makes this number the most prom appropriate, without the prom-cheesiness.
One Shoulder Chiffon Prom Dress, $88; etsy.com
The Accessories Dress
This is the type of gown that depends on accessories. In high school, it’s a prom dress if you pick the right formal shoes and clutch. But post-college, it becomes a brunch maxi if you pair it with flat sandals. Either way, I’m into it.
Summer Dream Dress, $75; etsy.com
The Badass Chick
If this is your type of dress, you are most likely a senior who could give two effs about prom, or high school, and can’t wait to leave. Forever.
Vintage Holographic Backless Dress, $78; etsy.com