Whether you're in the market for a prom dress or just looking for a really killer cocktail dress, here are a few downtown spots that will encourage you to skip the department store in favor of more unique options.
875 Washington Street
If you're looking for a high-fashion dress without the high-fashion cost, stop into Z Spoke, which is Zac Posen's secondary line. The dresses have all the glamour of Posen's runway collections, but for quite a bit less.
13 West 17th Street, #2
Simply put, Shareen offers one of the best vintage dress selections in the city -- two massive rooms packed with options -- and they're all surprisingly affordable. One tip when shopping for vintage: Try everything on, because you never really know from the size on the label what size the dress really is.
278 Mott Street
For ladies that can't find what they want in other stores or are looking for a more unique approach, Lauren Gabrielson offers custom dresses out of her Nolita studio. You can select an existing style in whatever color you want for a pretty quick turn-around, or you can work with Lauren to create the dress of your dreams.
478 Prince Street
This UK fast fashion chain is a master at creating high-fashion dresses at affordable price points.
639 1/2 Hudson Street
This little boutique actually offers a surprising number of evening-ready looks -- as opposed to the many boutiques that offer mostly short dresses -- from designers like Carven, Jen Kao, and Preen.
35 Howard Street
This massive fashion emporium has a slew of choices when it comes to dresses from up-and-coming designers -- none of them conventional.
Video by Amanda Martinez