www.edressme.com and www.simplydresses.com are two good ones - when I was looking I just googled cocktail dresses and then dug in!!
Kinda depends on what you're looking for though - some sites are geared more toward younger customers but not so much the "elegant" stuff I was looking for.
Dillards has good stuff too and Ross is a great place to find a killer deal
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a lot depends upon your price range, if you want something classy, elegant and are willing to spend a bit more for it i would try Barrie-Pace, i love their stuff. I have also had really good luck with Chadwicks
You just might have good luck with Pennys.. I myself wear separates..palazzo pants with all sorts of tops does wonders.. I hated the idea of black pants too, but it works.. Then when there are end of the season sales, especially after Xmas...or the winter, it's a good time to pick up thoe drossy outfits for a song.
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I sometimes find that when I'm not looking for something, is when I just happen upon it. Don't stress, you still have time and visit your local mall and take a look around. A simple cocktail dress is always nice to have in your closet, many uses for one. Good luck and happy shopping. I do, however have to try on something like this, very hard to tell on-line how a dress will actually look on you.
After New Years and Xmas you will find cocktail type gowns/dresses marked way down drastically..Last year while looking to add something to my wardrobe I came across the markdown rack at Macys... and found for a song..a Black jacket with glitter with a bottom underneath (one piece).. even if I wore it once which I did it was a steal.. Then remembering what you have in your wardrobe and at the same time I found a gold v-neck sweater which I could wear with white/cream or black pants and an appropriate blouse under it. Wore it on our last cruise and Parrot Pop thought I looked spectacular.. Eventually you may build a wardrobe of "cruise dressy clothes" from mark down racks. and yes, at TJ Maxx, Marshalls and some of the regular dept. stores you can find things that "work"..
I am HUGE on deal finding, I love quality things at excellent prices. I found 4 dresses for our first cruise and spent a total of $90 for what costs $350 at retail. I shop a lot at Marshalls and Ross. I even got jewelry and clutches to finish off the outfits. The shoes I paid more for because I will wear them more often and I LOVED them. It is very possible to buy clothes that you love to wear without spending a ridiculous amount on, it just takes time and effort.
I rarely spend more than $50 for a cocktail dress, sometimes as little as $30. I'm not a fan of TJ Maxx or Marshalls (just don't like the mess and digging through so much). I find bargains at department stores like Macy's, Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.
My shoes, like above I spent a whole lot more for them. But I have one pair that I've worn at least 10-15 times, so I figure I'm farther ahead of the game than I would have been purchasing 10-15 pair of cheap shoes to go with one outfit each. When I purchase a new cocktail dress, I base my choice on whether it will go with shoes I already own.