Formal and Prom Dresses

I’m starting to get prom dress emails! And I know that a lot of college students have spring formals for sororities and balls for graduations coming up as well. (Oh and wedding season is almost here, too.)

If there’s one piece of advice that I have for prom dress shopping, it’s to think ahead. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of one night, but this is a great opportunity to invest in a dress that you can wear for years to come, regardless of your budget! If you’re going to buy a dress, why not buy one that will work for formals in college, too? I always suggest bringing at least one formal dress to college anyway, so you have something ready to go when an event pops up.

With that in mind, I’d go for a simple and classic gown. I know, I know… it’s prom, and you want to wear something fun! You definitely can (I did!), but I wish I had picked a nice dress that would work for events in college and beyond.

Prom Dresses

One option that I wish had been around when I was in high school is renting a dress! You can pick out an amazing dress for a fraction of the cost to wear for the night. Obviously, a downside is that you don’t keep it in the long run, but if you want something special and you’re on a budget, this is a good option.




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Rent the Runway is such a great option if you want something really special but don’t want to make the investment. They have so many fun options for all occasions! But I agree that it is smart to always have at least one formal dress with you in college as you never know what might come up.

Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com


These are gorgeous! Growing up in the Midwest, I always thought my days of long dresses would come to a screeching halt after college formals. Now that I live in DC, I wear a gown at least 3 times a year for charity galas. I always love a good recommendation, so thanks!

Ally Stuart

I had my prom dress custom made by a friend’s mother, which seemed like a great idea… except that I let my mother talk me into ‘ice pink’ and now always cringe when I see the photos because of how washed out I looked.

I agree that it’s important to pick a dress that you love and can wear again. It’s also really important to trust your gut. If a salesperson or well meaning family member gushes about how nice you look, that’s great, but it’s more important to feel great in the dress. If you’re not sure, take time to walk and think about it, or plan a second trip.

Oh, and department stores are an underrated option for formal dress shopping. Here in Canada, we have the Bay, which always has a huge selection of nice formal dresses, usually for pretty decent deals, because fewer people shop there than at a specialty ‘prom/bridal’ store. (We also have Holt Renfrew, which carries some designer dresses that are about the same price as a prom/formal dress from a specialty shop, but are usually a better investment for wearability…)


Thank you for sharing! I have been looking at formals dresses for a while and am so indecisive.
Lauren | prettyasapeonyblog.blogspot.com


I wish I had gotten a senior prom dress I could wear again! I wasn’t thinking that far ahead at that point unfortunately.

Lauren | Fashion and Fernweh


While I love how fun my prom dress was, how I felt in it and how it looked on me, looking back I wish I would have thought to buy a dress to wear again. Now, as a college freshman in a sorority, I’m looking for my dress for formal and if I was thinking ahead maybe I would have been able to buy one that was more versatile!

Victoria Brazell

Love to see the photos taken on the steps of St. Bartholomew’s Church! That is where my family attended church throughout my childhood, where my siblings and I were baptized and where I was married! Special and a lovely backdrop to your pretty photos!