Great Little Black Dresses

The little black dress is a wardrobe must-have, especially for party season. But can you get a great dress at a really great price?

Consumer Reports ShopSmart just checked out little black dresses at low-cost retailers to see whether glamour has to come with a high price tag.

"These days all the discount stores sell little black dresses, and some by big-name designers." said CR ShopSmart Lisa Lee Freeman.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart checked out five little black dresses from low-cost retailers.

They 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 then inspected 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.

"But it has a few issues. The seams aren't finished. And the hem just completely started unraveling on us." said Slaven.

Kohl's Chaps Ralph Lauren dress was well made, but...

"It's just a little bland and boring. It would need a little pizzazz." said Slaven.

This J-C 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 Mossimo's dress, sold at Target.

"After laundering, it shrank almost a full size. This mark used to be here before we laundered it." said Slaven.

But don't worry, frugalistas!

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

So getting a nice little black dress for your next party doesn't have to break the bank.

As fashions come and go quickly, some of these dresses may not still be available. But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says there are certain clues you can look for to make sure whatever dress you buy is well made.

There should be no loose or dangling threads.

The seams should be finished, not uneven or unraveling.

While lining isn't essential, it is a sign of a good-quality dress.

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