Can I Buy A Dress at a Designer Sample Sale

Adapted from Stephi Stewart's, "Fire Your Wedding Planner"

The good news is that there are a bevy of ways to buy your designer dress for less (no matter what size you are).

One of my favorites on that list is how I saved 96% off the cost of my dress. That's right, I paid only $107 for a $2,000 dress...that's a savings of $1,893 dollars!

I achieved this by buying at a "Retail Sample Sale" (Michelle Roth in New York City).

Here's how sample sales work. Most bridal stores periodically have sample sales where you can buy their sample dresses for 25% - 95% off.

As you've read, sample dresses usually come in size 6, 8, or 10, but the good news is that they can be altered to your size even if you're a petite size "0" or "2" like me (I found a very reasonable seamstress studying at the fashion institute to do this for me and saved a bundle).

The reason why the shops sell these sample dresses so cheap is that:

  1. They're making room for new styles coming in.
  2. The samples have been tried on many times so they're "like new" (e.g. they might need some minor cleaning).
  3. you're lucky, you can score big at these sales like I did.

So how do you find out about sample sales?

Simply call up the bridal shops in your area and find out when and if they're having their next sample sale and then get ready!

Here are a few tips on shopping sample sales...

First of all, sample sales are an experience you'll never forget! From the minute you find out when they're going to happen, start telling yourself, I'm going to find my dream dress at a sample sale." Never question it. BELIEVE!

Next, find out what time the sale starts (they often open an hour or two earlier than normal) and be sure to ask what time the shoppers normally arrive.

Don't be surprised if they tell you that you women start lining up hours before! Make sure you get there as early as possible so you're number one in line and get the "first look" opportunity.

You should already have an idea of the type of dress you're looking for ahead of time.

Also, make sure to wear clothing that's easy to slip in and out of and remember, you might be stripping down in front of a lot of people so this is not for the faint of heart!

Once inside, start on one end of the store and pull out anything that you think you might like. This is not a time for agonizing over every dress you see. You want to get through the store as quickly as you can, gathering every dress that you like to make sure that no one else gets it before you. Your wedding shopping partner comes in handy here! In fact, you might have them start on the other end so you're both pulling dresses.

Once you've done a run through of the store, start trying on as quickly as you can. If you don't like it, take it off immediately and move to the next one.

Remember, keep your eyes open at all times in the dressing room because someone else might be trying on a dress that you love and as soon as they disregard it, you've got to pounce! So keep your Antennae up!

Once you've found one or two dresses that you love, grab a shop assistant and question them intensely on what it will take to alter the gown.

If the dress is too big or too small for you, UNLESS the dress is very inexpensive (e.g. $107), you may not want to take a chance of "messing" with it because you can end up paying more in alterations than you would just buying a new dress.