3 Ways to Save Money on Maternity Dresses

By Carlos Portocarrero on 29 June 2010 (Updated 13 July 2010) 5 comments
Photo: misocrazy

When you're pregnant, getting dressed can be a real nightmare. With all the changes your body is going through, getting dressed in the morning takes on a whole new dimension. I think M (my wife) is handling it really well, but in two weeks we have a wedding to go to and finding a fancy dress for an eight-month old pregnant woman isn't easy.

Let me rephrase that: it isn't cheap. There are tons of boutiques out there with hundreds of options, but they'll likely cost you anywhere from $150 to over a thousand dollars.

The good news is you don't have to spend that kind of money.

Here's why: the women that buy these dresses almost never wear them more than once and they feel bad about it. They feel guilty about buying a dress they've only worn once and then relegated to the back of the closet. They want you to borrow them. We asked a friend if she had any dresses and half an hour later she had two dresses ready for M to try on.

When those didn't fit right, she called her neighbor and she had four dresses ready to go in an hour or so. She even let us take two of them so M could think about which one she wanted. She told us:

I'm just so glad that someone else will get use out of them — I only wore them once.

That's where you come in: all you need to do is get in touch with these women and ask to borrow their dress. Here are three ways to play the "only wore it once" game.

Friends and friends of friends

This is what we did. Just ask the people you know if they have any dresses or if their friends have dresses. Odds are someone had a wedding or other event while they were pregnant.

Join a community

Here in Chicago, we have a site called NPN, which is a fantastic community of parents and soon-to-be parents. You can find people to nanny share with, answer questions about just about anything, and discuss any topic related to having kids. Find a local equivalent and ask around.

Consignment stores

Some women will sell their dress to a consignment store and that makes them cheaper for you to buy. Not the greatest option (since you'll still be paying for a dress you'll only wear once), but better than paying hundreds of dollars it.

Asking around saved us from spending around $200 on a dress M would only wear once. That's money we're going to need for diapers, a changing tables, the college fund, etc. That's when the real fun starts.

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Julie Rains's picture

Congratulations to you and your wife.

And, though, this is technically consignment, you should consider consignment sales (not just stores) that are offered by parent groups, preschools, etc. Carrie wrote about these children's clothing sales a while back. http://www.wisebread.com/ten-cents-an-item-for-high-end-childrens-clothes Check to see if they accept and sell maternity clothing (and of course you have to wait for the sales).

Guest's picture
Guest

Here's a radical thought. If you don't come up with a free or inexpensive dress option, why not just wear the best outfit your currently have? It is just one day. People understand you are pregnant. Most dressing up for events is about conforming to a social norm. But isn't a basic tenant of frugality to avoid spending because of social pressure?

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

Try telling that to the bride of the wedding you're going to or to my family! But seriously, what you're saying makes sense but you also have to respect the fact that this is their day and they expect a certain level of "fanciness."

I totally understand—if the invite says "black tie," you better show up in black tie. Anything else would be rude.

Guest's picture

Congratulations,
i think that way 'Friends and friends of friends' will be better for us, it no only save our money but also can use the old dresses.

Guest's picture

Great tips. Chances are, your friends and friends of friends are all getting pregnant around the same time you are. Just raid each other's closets. Don't we do that when we aren't pregnant anyway?