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Fancy That: Finding Formals For Less

Shopping for a formal dress is stressful enough (Did you remember to bring Spanx with you?) without having to worry about the rising costs of prom, banquet and party dresses. Case in point: A dress from Sherri Hill, the designer made famous by Duck Dynasty darling Sadie Roberston, could range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Forget buying on eBay, too. Sites like Knock Off Nightmares have thoroughly scared us from ordering that too-good-to-be-true dress from China.

And with homecomings, banquets, Christmas and New Year’s parties coming up fast, it can be tough to find something that isn’t the exact same thing everyone else is buying at Parkway Place Mall.

That’s why Rachel Rutledge started Off the Rack Formals. In just a few weeks, she has acquired around 250 dresses on consignment ranging from size 0 to size 28. There are other consignment stores in Huntsville, but they generally only carry a handful of formals.

“I don’t think its being done anywhere around here on this scale,” Rutledge said.

Dresses start out at $25 and go up to $300, though Rutledge said most of the dresses are between $50 and $125. Consignors get 60 percent of the profit.

Off the Rack currently has dresses from Mori Lee, Sherri Hill, Alfred Angelo, B. Darlin, Masquerade, Platinum, Sequin Hearts and Speechless, but that could change at any time.

They also have bridesmaid dresses, outfits for the mother of the bride or groom, boutique dresses for guests of a non-formal event like a wedding or graduation, designer handbags and shoes.

“You’ll find something that’s different,” Rutledge said. “If you go to the mall, you’re going to find a lot of the same thing in different colors.”

While the low prices of a gently worn dress are certainly appealing, it’s the customer service piece Rutledge wants to promote as she grows her business. Although she’s focused on formals and semi-formals right now, Rutledge hopes to one day move into a full scale consignment store that likens to a “Plato’s Closet with formals.”

For more information on Off the Rack Formals, check out their Facebook page. 

About the author

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Jessie Harbin

Jessie is a newlywed living in Meridianville with her husband and three dogs. She's learning to sail on their 26-foot sailboat in Guntersville. At the time of publication, nobody has fallen ill because of her cooking.

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