Formal Dress: How to look a million dollars on a budget


I have to admit something, I think I have my priorities all wrong when it comes to how much I am willing to pay for my fashion and how much I actually wear the items I purchase. You see, for everyday clothes, I am super tight and really don’t like paying much for an item I will potentially wear a hundred times but when it comes to special events like weddings and formal events I feel it is okay to spend the big bucks on something I will only wear once. It really doesn’t make much sense! I think it comes down to the fact that I just want to feel special on those special days, and I apparently feel more special in expensive clothes. Maybe it comes from the fact that I feel I need to be more delicate with what I am wearing because it cost more or the fact that I know it is special (because I paid more for it) and want to feel more special wearing it. I really don’t understand the mentality behind it but I don’t see me changing my frugal lifestyle very soon.

Where I work, similar to most corporate companies, an end of financial year ball is thrown every June/July – which means ball gowns!  Considering I have been working for the same company for over 4 years, I have had to buy a few dresses over this time. We all know I am a bargain shopper at heart, and I like to try and find a bargain… however for special occasions, I like to find high-end bargains! I love to pay more for an item and feel that little bit special, but I also love to get a higher priced item at a discounted cost. It’s pretty much a win – win! So for my recent ball I found the perfect dress on eBay of all places. I love roaming around the hidden corners of the eBay interweb and finding hidden gems just waiting to be re-loved.

FORMAL DRESS: HOW TO LOOK A MILLION DOLLARS ON A BUDGETSorry about the cheesy smile – I am still working on the posing side of blogging!

This year I was able to purchase this beautiful Shakuhachi Photographic Flare Dressicon for only $62 (RRP $462) on eBay, after successfully winning an auction. This unique 3/4 length dress is just GORGEOUS and I felt a million dollars with its striking green, black and white floral pattern. I got so many amazing compliments and I even unintentionally matched the theme of the ball (jungle themed).

I teamed it with a pair of Corelli Black Pointed Heels from my local thrift store for only $10. They were hardly worn and in excellent condition (always check the soles when buying second-hand shoes to see the wear) and with a smaller kitten heel were perfect for dancing the night away.

Lastly to add that little something extra, I popped into Collette Hayman who were having a 40% off jewellery and purchased a few key pieces of costume jewellery to really set off the outfit, with the two items (earrings and necklace) costing me only $12. I used a clutch I already owned to finish off the outfit.

All up this million dollar formal outfit cost me less than $100!

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The dress I wore was originally over $400 and I was able to score it online for a mere $62. The young girl I purchased it from had worn it once, to her formal, before selling it online. I really does go to show what you can find if you do some hunting through the depths of eBay. My key tips for shopping on eBay is to make sure you visit the website weekly as most listings run for 7-9 days, and give yourself some time to find what you are looking for. I started searching for this dress back in April and found a few options to my liking before successfully winning this item – it arrived safe and sound and ready to party in June.

Have I converted you yet? Next time you are on the hunt for that special dress, for that special event, why not head on over to eBay and see what you can find? Or perhaps even your local thrift store which is always full of great items just waiting to be found!

If second-hand shopping isn’t for you, you can still purchase Shakuhachi Photographic Flare Dressicon 
online from Shoptiques, simply click the text link or the image above to shop the look online.

Founder of the Vintage at Heart blog – Kacey loves to share with you her journey through the ever-changing adventures of life as she explores motherhood, repurpose thrift store finds, and discover how to have a more sustainable home.


  1. Rosie
    August 8, 2016

    I actually need this dress in my life. I might have to buy for a wedding I have coming up in September. Thank you for sharing a beautiful piece

  2. Gorgeous. Love the vibrant greens in the dress. I am so inspired by your shopping bargains 🙂

  3. Stacy
    August 8, 2016

    This makes total sense. And what a fantastic score on that beautiful dress!

  4. Brianna
    August 9, 2016

    So pretty! And such a deal! 😀

  5. Diana Johnson
    August 9, 2016

    That dress looks gorgeous on you!

  6. linda spiker
    August 9, 2016

    Really pretty outfit and that dress looks great on you!

  7. Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    August 9, 2016

    Wow! Such a great idea to search for your outfit on eBay! I’m soooo in love with that dress! My favorite color – you look fab!


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