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Find a Little Black Dress for great price

December 21, 2009 12:10:03 AM PST
Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" helped solidify the Little Black Dress as a wardrobe essential. The dresses she wore were made by Givenchy, but you may not need to pay designer prices to get a great black dress."These days all the discount stores sell little black dresses, and some by big-name designers," said Lisa Lee Freeman of Consumer Reports ShopSmart.

Consumer Reports checked out five Little Black Dresses from low-cost retailers. The dresses ranged in price from $51 for Kohl's Chaps Ralph Lauren dress to just $20 for Walmart's Norma Kamali dress.

Textile engineer Pat Slaven washed each dress five times and inspected them to see how well they held up.

The Walmart dress comes at a great price and because of the material, you'll never have to iron it. However, it did have a few issues.

"The seams aren't finished, and the hem just completely started unraveling on us," Slaven said.

Kohl's Chaps Ralph Lauren dress was well made, but it was a little boring.

The JC Penney Nicole Miller dress had to be hand-washed because of the beading, which is annoying, and there was a problem with some of the dresses shrinking. The biggest offender was the Mossimo dress, sold at Target, which shrank almost a full size.

But don't worry, Consumer Reports did find a great Little Black Dress at a low cost.

"We really liked H&M's little black dress," Freeman said. "The seams were nicely finished, and the lining was well sewn, and it was only 35 bucks!"

Fashions come and go quickly, so some of these dresses may not still be available, but there are some key clues to look for whenever you buy a dress.

  • There should be no loose or dangling threads.
  • The seams should be finished, not uneven or unraveling.
  • While lining isn't essential, it's a sign of good quality.

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