Dress Hunting on a Budget? Do it in Style

It’s the most high-profile garment you’ll ever own, so while the idea of skimping may seem risky, fear not – there are ways to find a look that’s both budget and beautiful.

  • Story by Photo Isabella Harrex & Rachel Ramsay

Your mind is flurrying with visions of a high-style day: a chic ensemble, tasteful décor, fine food, an (almost) too-pretty-to-eat cake… there’s only one problem – your bank balance is dwindling at a rate of knots, and that couture designer gown you’ve been eyeing up looks like it’s first in line for the chopping block. Don’t panic – there are ways to find a look that’s both budget and beautiful.

Obvious cost-friendly options involve imports – inexpensive labour and mass-produced fabric give overseas labels freedom to undercut local manufacturers’ prices. However, it pays to be aware of the risks: rushed needlework, low-quality fibre blends and incorrect fitting are part and parcel of online shopping, and may end up costing you more down the line through repairs, alterations or – worst-case scenario – having to fork out for an entirely new dress.

Strike a balance between economical and exorbitant by seeking out a gown that meets the two primary bridal-gown priorities: quality fabric and superb fit.

‘If you want to save but still achieve maximum style, you have to buy right,’ says Diane Stephenson from Auckland boutique Modes (modes.co.nz). ‘A well-cut garment in a quality cloth will always look good, without screaming dollars.’

Designer Sera Lilly (seralilly.com) agrees, saying that by using expensive fabrics sparingly, you can still achieve stand-out style.

‘You could spend $600 and look amazing or you could spend $5000 and look amazing. It’s all about getting a dress that suits you,’ Sera says. ‘If you’d love a French lace dress but can’t afford it, ask your designer to only use that fabric on the bodice or sash.’

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