Be a wedding wonder or a dazzling deb for a fraction of the usual price
Don't spend thousands; savvy shopping can make you look a million dollars, says Aideen Sheehan
As the wedding and debs seasons approach, consumers are desperate for ways to glam up without breaking the bank.
The recession has seen a surge in second-hand and clothes-rental shops opening to meet demand for budget occasion wear – and you can sell off old favourites to make a few bob.
Aideen McHenry who owns secondhand and surplus designer boutique Ruby Ruby, says people are now reluctant to be seen paying huge money for designer clothing.
She opened her Dublin city centre outlet in 2009, and says demand is so great that she'd like to expand.
Consumers can bring in good quality designer clothes and accessories and the 'consignment' system means that if they sell within eight weeks, the price is split between the store and original owner.
Prices are typically half the original cost, with current items including Christian Louboutin shoes for €275 compared with €600 for a new pair.
"People used to be a bit unsure about this," says Aideen, "but in the current climate nobody wants to be seen to be spending excessively, so now they're really proud to be buying something beautiful at a more reasonable price."
Frock n Fabulous in Dublin 2 is a rental outlet offering designer gowns from €90 to €300. Owner Kara Maher started off renting out hats from her home two years ago, but now she runs a showroom in Drury St.
Her primary focus is romantic designer evening dresses at around 10pc of their retail price.
A couture evening skirt and shirt by Irish designer Jennifer Rothwell which would retail at €4,500 can be hired for €300, while dresses by Australian designer Rachel Gilbert retailing at €1,800-€3,000 can be rented for €250.
Hats can be rented from €25-65 and courier delivery costs €6 each way. For more, log on to Frocknfabulous.ie
Miss Daisy Blue near Cork's English Market sells genuine vintage clothes from the 1930s to the 1980s.
Owner Breda Casey started the store in 2009 and buys quality secondhand items in the US and Britain.
Some of the most popular items are 1950s prom dresses, with which she outfitted two best-dressed lady winners at the Curragh races last year.
These cost from €130-€400, while 1950s and 1960s wool or cashmere coats of "amazing quality" cost from €160-€390.
"We get a real mix," says Breda. "Some people come specifically looking for vintage items, while others just wander in and find something they love."
The largest second-hand dress sale in the country – Buymydress.ie – is coming up on May 25 in Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Galway, Cork, Limerick and Athlone.
People can donate dresses in advance to Carraig Donn stores or purchase them at the sale venues listed on buymydress.ie with proceeds going to the Down Syndrome Centre to establish a training and therapy facility for people with Down Syndrome.
Online fashion retailer asos.com has a Asos Marketplace site which allows consumers buy and sell secondhand clothes, charging a 5pc commission on sales.