Formal Dresses

I have been receiving some about where to purchase formal dresses… I, myself, have amassed quite the collection over the years.
I love dresses.
Where are the best places to get formal dresses?  It really depends on your price range.  I will include some ideas and suggestions for different prices.
BP always has some cute options for lower prices.
Notes: Avoid “satin” like material… it looks cheap.  Also avoid weird ruffling and Jessica McClintock inspired dresses….. yea. No.  (For instance, don’t buy this dress.)
While in Nordstrom (or on, be sure to check out Taylor Dresses as well.  The dresses range from casual to more fancy.
Note: They start at size 2, so if you’re little, be aware that you might have to get alterations.

Lilly Pulitzer
Known to not shy away from color and prints, Lilly has recently begun adding dresses appropriate for evenings.
Notes: The length of the dress must be taken into account.  Too short and you will look out inappropriate.  Also, consider the venue.  A Lilly may be too much for some more subdued events.  Not to be forgotten is the material… some cotton dresses just won’t make the cut.  (As for shoes, you are better off going with some sort of heel or wedge.  Flats + Lilly look too casual)
[Side note: The dresses are a bit pricey, but Lilly ALWAYS marks down dresses… Always.  You can pretty much guarantee never paying full price.]

Eryn Dress– $298

Saemus Dress – $398
Neiman Marcus
Hands down my favorite place to dress shop.  The best brands are always in stock.
Note:  Be prepared to spend a little bit more money, but always walking out with a FABULOUS dress.  My sister and I both bought our senior prom dresses from Neimans.

Kate Spade
Loving the LBD silhouettes.
Note: Normally, I would say to go nice and light on jewelry for evening wear, but I think Kate Spade dresses are designed specifically to have fun with accessories!

Mirna Dress – $375
On a budget?  Take note of some of the styles that I’ve posted.  Or, go through websites of your favorite designers and pick a look you like.  Print it out or take a mental note and look for similar dresses from other stores, where the price tag is much easier on the wallet.
Some places I suggest searching:
Nordstrom BP
(refer back to my notes on how to avoid cheap-looking dresses)
{click the links for my favorite dresses}

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Christina - Summer Year Round

Lilly has been making some dresses lately that are not at "lilly like" if that makes sense. Check out the Kiki Dress; it's classic and fits beautifully!

(check out my giveaway!)


Hi Carly! Love this!! I asked you on tumblr a few weeks ago about prom dresses and you are seriously a lifesaver! I went to Neiman Marcus's website and looked in their sale rack. And there was a beautiful, preppy navy chiffon dress! It was $150 but it was $500! I was going to email to thank you. There was one left and it was such a small size that we didn't think it would fit me but we ordered it anyway. And it fit! It was the exact dress one of my friend's sisters wore last year to her prom and she's like my preppy inspiration so that made it even better! Thank you so much Carly. That dress made my prom that much more perfect. I really really appreciate your preppy words of wisdom!


Another good place is a BCBG outlet! I have found some very cute LBDs for around $39 dollars!!! And, I always feel like the dresses that end up in their outlets are the more "conservative" ones… which is always what I am looking for!


how does a college student afford the stuff you feature on your blog? guess i just live in a totally different world.


So with you about avoiding Jessica McClintock styled dresses! I also despise "bling". Loving the Lilly Eryn dress–so pretty! I've actually had some luck getting BCBG dresses for cheap on the Dillard's sale rack, and I've even found some cute dresses at H&M!


Love all these dresses! You've got amazing taste, and may I say I'm in LOVE with your blog. You actually inspired me to start one of my own – and thats a feat because I don't usually take much more on than I can, but I think this is going to be a lot of fun!

Thanks for your inspiration and I LOVE your blog ha ha


While these are all lovely dresses, I personally feel that they are not appropriate for a formal event. When I think "formal" I think evening gowns and floor length dresses. Every sorority/fraternity formal, charity gala, or any other formal event that I have attended, every lady (including myself) has been in floor length dresses. A gown just adds to the whole concept of it.

The dresses you've shown would be more appropriate for a semi-formal event, wedding, or cocktail party but not a formal event.


I'd also recommend checking out Rent the Runway if you just need a nice dress for one night. Designer dresses start around $50, and you get them for about 4 days. They also do accessories. All the dresses are in great condition and dry cleaned between rentals. They even send you 2 sizes so you can be sure it will fit. I've got a closet full of formal & semiformal dresses that I've only worn once, and would love to have had this option to save some money for all those events. I recently used them for a black tie charity event and I've been recommending it ever since.


I always have the hardest time finding a formal dress I like.. haha & this year I'm wanting a short dress for formal because it's more functional and easier to move in!


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