I get it. You’re going to a one-time event or dressing for a school play, or you’re a broke college student surviving on cans of soup. Money is tight, budgets are small, but you need a ’50s dress NOW. Most quality vintage reproduction ’50s dresses will run upwards of $200 or a little less if it’s vintage-inspired with cheaper materials. Even very cheap Halloween ’50s costumes or pin up costumes can set you back $75 for something like a complete sock hop outfit. What is a gal to do? Don’t worry, I have some online brands to recommend and a few to avoid that have 50 dresses from $20 to $50 for sale in the USA and UK.
50s Dresses for Cheap – USA
Hell Bunny – I own more Hell Bunny dresses than any other brand. I love them. Most are made of a nice weight cotton and come in cute ’40s and ’50s silhouettes. They fit well, have plus sizes, and are priced in the $50 range. Hot Topic carries the brand and they often have 20% off sales, lowering the price even more. I have found some on clearance for $20! Hot Topic has other retro ’50s dresses in the $50 range worth looking at, too.
Unique Vintage – While they carry a lot of brands listed on this page, they also have their own house brand with many dresses starting at $48. They are usually solid colors or polka dots with simple, flattering silhouettes. I like to get them and add details like a collar, piping, pockets, and a belt to make them even more “50s.” Check the clearance section too for more good deals.
Mode Mundo – Carries the popular Chinese brand Chicstar in sizes from XS to 6XL. They have some timeless ’50s dress like the polka dot party dress, black cocktail dress, and sailor dress. The quality is good and the designs are unique to this brand. ModeMundo is my SIL’s website that I encouraged her to start by selling Chicstar because they ARE affordable and the quality is pretty good. She gives great customer service, too : )
50s Dresses for Cheap – UK
Pretty Retro – A sister company to my favorite UK brand House of Foxy, their Pretty Retro dresses come in plain colors, popular prints, and classic silhouettes. They are great for swing dancing or as vintage tea dresses. Starting at 54 euros. UK sizes 12-18
Dolly and Dotty – Love polka dots? Dolly and Dotty are well known for their cute dresses with polka dots. They have other prints, too, like florals and stripes. Simple designs, UK brand. 35-62 euros.
H&R London (Hearts and Roses) – Combining classic ’50s and Gothic vintage together for a unique collection of 1950s inspired clothing. Many dresses have long sleeves and a true tea length hemline. Prices start around 25 euros and go up to 67. Standard and plus sizes. UK8 to UK24
VooDoo Vixen (USA store) – Another one of my favorite brands is VoodooVixen. They find the cutest prints and embellish plain dresses with details often missing from other brands. 20-60 for most dresses. One thing I don’t like is how short most of them are. True ’50s dresses had mid shin lengths. Most VoodooVixen dresses are at or above the knee.
Banned – This brand is carried by a lot of pin-up and rockabilly retailers and priced reasonably at $39 to $65 for a dress. I find some extra good deals on Amazon in the $40 range.
eShakti – I have a few dresses from eShakti that embrace the ’50s style without being strictly vintage designs. There is a lot of love besides the price (most dresses are under $60 with frequent sales) such as the full-size range from XS to 6XL. You can get a custom size made as well, so if you need a bigger bust and small waist, they can accommodate. You can also customize the neckline, hem length, sleeve type and other details. It is like designing your own unique dress. I sometimes find a vintage ’50s dress I love and will go to eShakti to see if I can re-create it with all the custom options. They ship to the USA, UK, AU, Canada, Singapore, and UAE. Clothing is designed in New York (USA) but made in India. Orders arrive in 2-3 weeks.
Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon AU – Amazon hosts a number of brands mentioned above, as well as cheap knock-off brands. The quality of these cheap dresses can be fine or poor, with sizing that runs accurate or 2-3 sizes too small. Many shoppers have good luck with brands on Amazon, while others do not. I purchased one dress for my daughter and I am happy with it. My recommendation is to always choose brands with several 4 and 5 star reviews, their own size chart (usually a picture as well as in the description), and that have PRIME shipping available.
The reason for Prime, even if you don’t have a prime account, is that it ensures the dress is already in an Amazon USA or UK warehouse. Shipping will be fast and all import taxes have already been paid. When you choose a dress that ships directly from overseas, it could be weeks before you see it, and will be very expensive to ship back for a return. You are also sending all your dollars to an overseas company rather than helping your local economy via import taxes, shipping & handling, and warehousing costs built into the price of your dress. I won’t go as far as to say you should “only buy locally made,” but I do encourage you to support brands that at least ship locally.
Of the Amazon hosted brands, Grace Karin is my favorite for quality, price, and design. Belle Poque, Acevog, and DressyStar also seem to be reliable. Anything priced under $25 is a RED FLAG. Avoid if you can.
Etsy.com and Etsy.co.uk – Most vintage ’50s dresses are expensive. You can, however, you can find some bargains on Etsy for genuine ’50s vintage or ’50s inspired from another decade (like the 80s). Sometimes they have minor flaws like stains, holes, or broken zippers. If you can fix them, then you have yourself a genuine vintage 1950s dress for a song.
Where do you find 50s dresses on a budget?