Formal wear: Dress smart at clever prices

Dressing up fancy on a student budget can be tough, particularly as formal wear tends to come with a scary price tag. But there are ways round this!
promtimeCredit: Sean McGrath – Flickr

Even though the word ‘student' conjures up images of sweat pants and scruffiness, there are activities throughout university life such as proms, black-tie events and perhaps a day at the races that will require you to look your best.

Below we have tips for both the guys and the girls, so you can dress smart at clever prices!

For The Boys

suitCredit: Jonathan Mueller – Flickr

  1. Borrow

    Smart suits and tuxedos never go out of fashion and if your best friend, brother or dad has a nice, appropriate outfit that they don't mind lending out, you can be properly dressed for nothing but the cost of a pint and a thank you.

  2. Rent

    There are many places both on the high street and online where you can rent suits for reasonable prices.

    Moss Bros is considered to be the number one place on the high street, with prices ranging from between £50 and £145, and options for orders or instant hire available.

  3. Buy

    Save some cash up and invest in a suit, which you can bring out at every occasion. Budget options are available at Primark, M&S outlet outlet and New Look. So you aren't accused of recycling outfits, jazz it up with different shirts and ties.

For the Girls


  1. Buy

    Most girls prefer to have a new outfit for important events and it can be hard to do on a budget, which is why sales are your best friend if you have events coming up.

    Debenhams, Next and Lipsy have huge twice yearly sales where formal wear is often slashed by half price.

    Alternatively charity and vintage shops often carry formal wear at lower prices than usual, and you know that nobody else will be wearing the same outfit as you.

  2. Make Do

    Its always an option to wear something you've already worn before, and change it up with accessories – a belt or shrug can make a huge amount of difference. is a website which offers the latest on trend accessories, including items from designers, to be rented.

  3. Borrow

    Mix and match your wardrobes with friends and it won't cost you a penny. Get a few friends to bring stuff over, a bottle of wine and a Ryan Gosling film, and you suddenly have a wardrobe that has trebled in size, and so do your friends.

  4. Rent

    A few sites have sprung up around the idea of allowing people to rent otherwise unaffordable designer gowns – which is perfect for students to look stunning on a budget. offers a variety of designers from Alexander Wang to Helmut Lang, and with prices from £10 it really is style on a budget.

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