Cheap dresses
November 6, 2017 3:29 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in semi disposable dresses. Specifically, I've seen a lot of dresses on amazon for 18 dollars. I am looking for something like this that will hold up to 10 washes without pilling or totally falling apart.

I want cheap dresses to wear. I don't need to look "nice" per say but I want to transition from mostly jeans and target t shirts to dresses with leggings and ankle boots.

I work in a lab where my clothes sometimes get destroyed at unexpected times. I also have a very active child where my clothes sometimes get destroyed at unexpected times. I basically only need to look nice 3x a year and I am not asking about those times. I previously dealt with this by buying jeans at goodwill and the tshirts at target when they went on sale for 4 dollars. Now I would like to step this up a small notch by switching to cheap dresses. It's practicle and comfortable.

I am really interested in dresses that don't show any cleavage even when leaning over, come to the knee, and ideally have pockets.

Target quality is fine for this! I see a lot of dresses on zulilly and amazon that fit this bill but, have you tried them? Did they pill and fall apart on the second wash?

Please don't tell me Boden. I am broke and I am not going to spend 70 dollars on something that has a 10% chance of being destroyed everytime I wear it.
posted by Kalmya to Shopping (19 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
My vote would be to go to Old Navy and try on a bunch of stuff. My experience with cheap dresses is that fit can be SUPER variable -- even buying a similar-looking style from the same brand won't necessarily look the same on me one season to the next...I think part of the cheapness might just be inconsistency with sizing. That would make me nervous about buying online (unless there is a good return policy). Especially if you go when they have one of their big sales, the Old Navy dresses tend to be well-priced and definitely would last 10 wears in fine condition. If you go to one of the big ones, they have tons of options, so I just try on basically everything in my size and find whichever ones actually fit right.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:41 PM on November 6, 2017 [12 favorites]

I have several t-shirt dresses from Amazon that cost me around $10-15, have pockets and haven't pilled or fallen apart through several washes. Like this and this. I've only tried dark colors, though because I'm not sure if the light colors would be too see-through.
posted by Polychrome at 3:47 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Goodwill and other thrift stores can be good for this. Also places like Ross, Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Burlington.

When looking at unknown brands in an online shopping context, I sort by customer review first and then limit by price range. Then I scan the results for for products with a high number of reviews, read a few positive and negative reviews, and make a call. If one person complains that it was completely horrible but 1,000 reviewers have given it a 4+ star rating and say they've been wearing it for a year, that's good enough for me - assuming a good return policy.

So for instance this dress which seems to tick off most of your boxes, has a question about washing and an answer from a user who says theirs is doing okay after 6-7 washes in cold water. The long-sleeved black version is $13 in a medium .. to me that would be worth a shot.
posted by bunderful at 3:49 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

I bought this dress from Amazon and have washed it twice, and it is comfortable and seems like it will hold up/not pill or fall apart. For me (5'4"), since it is on the short side (a couple of inches above the knee), I'd only wear it with leggings, but YMMV.

Doesn't come to the knee or have pockets, but I think it is a good option nonetheless...
posted by msbubbaclees at 3:58 PM on November 6, 2017

I bought this and this

I love them. They wash and dry great and after many, many washings still look great.
I have a few colors, both short sleeve and long.
posted by ReluctantViking at 4:03 PM on November 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

My wife has bought several from this line and likes them a lot.
posted by The Deej at 4:14 PM on November 6, 2017

I have had good luck getting cheap dresses at Ross.
posted by radioamy at 4:17 PM on November 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Uniqlo often has dresses on sale for $19.99 or less. A lot of their dresses have pockets, and the quality is superior to Old Navy or The Gap. There's currently a sweatshirt dress on sale for $14.90 but might be too casual.

The key to ordering online from Uniqlo is to pay attention to the clothing measurements (not the body measurements) and see how they compare to clothing you already own. When you click on 'Size chart' in most cases you'll get the garment measurements for different sizes.
posted by needled at 4:18 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I bought two knit dresses from Old Navy, and two dresses from the Gap at the beginning of summer, and I've worn them all summer with multiple washings, and they've all held up great. Specific dresses aren't around, but I've got stuff similar to this, this, and this. They're all comfy and stretchy.

Oh, sorry, just saw your request for pockets. I don't think the knit dresses have pockets, but I do have a cotton dress from Gap that has pockets.
posted by hydra77 at 4:23 PM on November 6, 2017

I but off season at low end department stores like JCPenney and Kohls. I have their credit cards (pay them off as you use them) and they send ridiculous coupons that makes everything really cheap. Then I usually just look online and when the jersey type dresses go on sale I buy a few - never for more than 12 bucks a piece, often for 8 or under. This did mean I had to try on clothes in store for a couple seasons, but now I know exactly how things will fit me.

I realize this sounds like a lot of work and luck, but you do get dresses they expect people to pay 20-60 dollars on for a lot cheaper so even though they do fall apart, they easily last for 20 or more washes without pilling/etc.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:01 PM on November 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Try H&M and ASOS - ASOS in particular has a million options with lots of filters and they do free returns. Target also can be good for this.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 5:41 PM on November 6, 2017

Old Navy is good for this. I have also intermittently had luck at NY and Company when on sale -- last summer I bought 5 flared dresses, in various colors/prints, that were all knee length, round or high-ish V collar, and pockets. They were $15 a pop and have held up through multiple washings.This is similar but the neckline is different and it looks several inches shorter.
posted by basalganglia at 5:59 PM on November 6, 2017

H&M Basics will fit your bill. I have several of their t-shirt style dresses that I've had since . . . 2012? 2013? that are still more than fine to wear to work. Mine are jersey, I have no idea about the quality of the ones that are made out of the sweatshirt sort of material, but I'd assume it's more of the same: good quality, reasonable price. Basic colors. A++ would buy again, they just don't appear to wear out.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:01 PM on November 6, 2017

This one! Pockets and everything
posted by atomicstone at 7:15 PM on November 6, 2017

I live in Cowcow. Some are above your price point, but many are below - especially if you don't need XXL like I do. I'm 5'3" and a XXL, and they hit mid-knee on me. I wash in cold water and they're pretty much indestructible (there's a little piling on the front of a couple, after years, because of my seat belt, but they're the scuba material so you can shave them). Get one with prime shipping, and they're free returns if you don't like them. Lots of amazing novelty prints, they go well with leggings, I get tons of compliments. Fairly low clevage - I'm a 40C/D - unless I bend allllllll the way over. No pockets. :/

I have been super happy with this dress (I got the sloths!) It's a little sheer, but perfect over leggings and a cami. Hits the top of my knees.

This dress is fantastic - cheap, pockets, knee length, comfy, looks great. It's only been washed twice, so I can't speak to wear. The material is heavier, though, so it reads as dressier, so I don't know how well it would do for your daily purposes.

I am not super crazy about this one on me right now, but it's comfy and cheap - I'm just doing better in dresses with more shape right now.
posted by joycehealy at 7:11 AM on November 7, 2017

Seconding the one that atomicstone linked to, though it may be a little shorter than knee length depending on how long your legs are.
posted by soelo at 7:32 AM on November 7, 2017

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Target - I have cheap (cost me $20 at the time) dresses from there which have lasted me years, and only started falling apart (threads coming loose, pilling of the fabric) recently. I also second recommendations to try on the dresses, as a lot of the cheaper ones can be kind of short if you are above average height.
posted by jouir at 8:51 AM on November 7, 2017

Another vote for Old Navy, and to do it online--they often have promotions and coupons for 30-40-50% off, just listed on the front page or sometimes emailed to you, and you can stack them so that something "nice" (like a jacket) will cost $30 in the end instead of $95. They also have a super generous return policy.
posted by witchen at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2017

Are you shopping online? You can skip the latest selections and just shop the clearance section of your favorite stores. You will be buying out of season but there's nothing wrong with storing a garment for a few months until it's in season. Check out too, Zappo's clearance website. You can sort their selections by price (or first narrow the choices by color or silhouette and then sort for price) low to high and then just look at what's in your price range. Amazon is good too. Allow yourself to fall down the rabbit hole of looking at their other recommendations, or "shoppers who bought this also bought" suggestions, you can find some good suggestions.

Protip for shopping online: only shop those stores that either have free shipping AND free returns or that allow you to return for free at a brick-and-mortar (and then only if a brick-and-mortar is convenient to you).
posted by vignettist at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2017

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