One rule to make your shopping successful is that you need to understand that everything that is cheap may not be worthless. You may be able to find a number of beautiful cocktail prom dresses at low rates at many online shops. This does not mean that these dresses are shoddy or out of fashion. Thus, do not measure the worth of dress through its price.
Look for discount and clearance sale dresses at malls and local shops. Try to avail yourself of the season ending sale. Even if at that point you have no plans to buy the dress, just go in and try out a few so that you can know what suits you and what kind of dress you should look for in the future. One important place to look for cost-effective dresses is online. You can find many online shops and stores that sell designers' dresses at not more than $50.
Also browse auction sites where you can read the reviews of the products. Such sites even offer second hand dresses at extraordinarily low prices. However, when buying online you have to be very careful in understanding the fit, measurement and other features of the available dresses. Other options for finding affordable cocktail prom dresses include places such as consignment shops, thrift stores, and garage sales.