I know, I know. Each year on that special Sunday evening, you sit on your sofa in your PJs and wonder who will win. While beautiful people with even more beautiful bank accounts strut their stuff on the red carpet, you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, we could all look that good if we had the money.”
Fear not! Those excuses won’t work here. When you have to go to a gala or formal event for work, or even if you just find yourself dreaming about Saoirse Ronan’s gown for days on end, there are ways to find red-carpet style dresses (and copies of your fave’s!) for a fraction of their original exorbitant prices.
Where to Find Cheap Red Carpet Dresses
Everybody knows that the Oscars have a huge influence on the fashion industry — there’s no surprise there. What is surprising is the speed at which this influence can be seen. Within a couple of hours, if not sooner, there are dozens of imitation versions of your favorite look ready to order online for less than $200.
If this sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. There are a few websites — The Celebrity Dresses, World Celebrity Dress, and Milanoo — that advertise knockoffs of the night’s best dresses, and the glowing reviews on each site may have you sold.
Unfortunately, the cheap red carpet dresses offered are often just that: cheap. On closer inspection, the internet is full of horror stories about the quality, style, and sizing of the products these sites are selling.
While good reviews do exist, it’s important to exercise caution when ordering anything that comes at such a knocked-down price.
In fact, many people prefer to pay more for quality items that they're sure will last longer.
These sites all have similar traits, such as always having a sale and only displaying photos of the dress on the celebrity. But if you’re feeling lucky and want to take the chance, you might just get a gorgeous-looking gown for half of nothing. (The Celebrity Dresses, Milanoo, and World Celebrity Dress were contacted for comment, but did not respond by the time of publication.)
You Ain't No Copycat! Well, Maybe a Little
If you want a dress that emulates an Oscar gown but still maintains artistic integrity (and you want a designer who feels similarly), look no further.
Many big companies will take inspiration from the fashion trends at the ceremony without rehashing the exact look. That way, you can enjoy elements of a style and not feel as if you’re trying to be Scarlett Johansson.
Camille La Vie, Pretty Little Thing, Lyst, and even Macy’s will offer dresses that mimic the best aspects of the night’s looks without being carbon copies.
They're slightly pricier than dresses from the knockoff sites mentioned above. Still, these dresses will appeal to those who like a bit of flair but still have a budget and don’t need red carpet dramatics.
Tidebuy is a good site if you’re looking for variety. They sort their categories by occasion, and it makes the whole purchasing process easy and enjoyable — the way it should be!
- Nicole Kidman was reportedly paid $2 million to wear that chartreuse Dior gown designed by John Galliano.
- The iconic white dress by William Travilla that Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch takes the cake, though, selling for $5.6 million in an auction.
- Jennifer Lawrence reportedly got a three-year contract with Dior to wear their dresses on every red carpet for a reported cool $15 to $20 million. But would you be surprised if that’s true?
- Charlize Theron once wore a $100,000 Christian Dior gown to the Oscars, but the whole look came to $4 million with the addition of Harry Winston diamond cuffs.
- Speaking of diamond cuffs and stars being paid for exposure, the trend of being a walking advertisement for designer jewelry is only growing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Other Ways to Find Red Carpet Dresses on a Budget
Of course, there are many other ways of nabbing a cheap, Oscar-inspired gown just days after the show’s broadcast. The majority of fast-fashion stores — Forever 21, JCPenney, H&M, and many more — will cash in on the red carpet trends.
Wait until two or three weeks after the show, and you’ll find imitation versions, something similar, that-kind-of-looks-like-that-one dresses, and even shoes and jewelry to match. You won’t have to break the bank — you can just rough it up a little.
There is also an amazing new trend on the rise: subscription services.
The company has options for one-off rentals or subscriptions of $89 to $159 per month, depending on your plan. With the subscriptions, you can sample a certain number of gowns each month.
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A friend of mine got the opportunity to go to the 2017 Grammys. Rather than spend hundreds on a dress that she would never wear again, she rented one from Rent the Runway (and looked amazing). When fancy corporate events come calling, this can save you a fortune.
Cheap Red Carpet Dresses: The Real Deal
Don’t forget that there are rare moments when celebrities will wear red carpet dresses to that are actually within the budget of the average human. For example, Kendall Jenner wore a Topshop gown to the Met Gala. Meanwhile, Zendaya wore a $38 dress from her own clothing line to the Teen Choice Awards.
While we all can’t look exactly like our favorite celebs, it’s nice to know that fashion doesn’t always have to cost the same as a small house. Now, you’ll never turn up to a posh event underdressed again!