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You Shall Go to the Ball: How to find the Perfect Graduation Ball Dress

So another year has flown by, and sadly for some of you this has been your last in Exeter. But luckily, along with exams and dissertations, there is still plenty for you to look forward to in your last few weeks as a student. The Graduation Ball on Saturday 21st July will be the ultimate opportunity to wow your friends and fellow students in a fabulous outfit, celebrate obtaining your degree and leave the Exeter bubble with a bang. You’ll look back on these photos in years to come, so we want to ensure that you pull out all the stops in the fashion stakes. To make your life a little easier at this busy time we’ve narrowed down a list of the best shops for finding the perfect dress. We’re all about efficiency here at Her Campus, so don’t waste your time wandering around, head straight to these destinations to make your search easy and enjoyable.

In Exeter

The shopping in Exeter, as you already know, is great for nights out and looking stylish on campus, but where do you go when there’s a ball coming to town? You’ll need something special for this night, so start looking somewhere you wouldn’t normally shop. John Lewis has a great range of concessions which vary in prices, so it’s a good starting point for finding a style that suits you. From Ted Baker to Temperley, Ghost to Mango, you’ll find something that dazzles you, and will really appreciate having lots of different brands in the same space. Of course the designers in John Lewis will be expensive, so if you know you’re on a budget its best not to tempt yourself. Ted Baker has some beautiful full length gowns such as this floral maxi dress (£199), and the Ghost collection is timeless – this satin blue one (£129) is so elegant. There are also lots of shorter dresses which are cheaper, but even so, it might be an idea to start saving now!


The Princesshay centre of course has lots of fabulous student friendly stores which sell fun party wear. Miss Selfridge has very glamorous dresses which won’t pull on the purse strings too much, and their new collections are especially glitzy. This embellished bodycon dress (£89) ticks all the boxes, and would look great with a tan and neutral accessories. Coast has a varied range of dresses, and this red dress (£180) is a showstopper. If you like bright colours and prints, Monsoon has so much choice and variety so you’re bound to find a winner.


Outside of Exeter

If you want to look beyond the boundaries of Exeter, we’d recommend Topshop’s flagshop store in Oxford Circus. It has a whole floor assigned to young designers, featuring lots of formal but fun dresses. You’ll definitely be tempted by new brands such as Love and Jones and Jones, which are inexpensive but appropriate for a ball. This coral dress by Wal G is only £34, and would look amazing if you’re more petite and you want something shorter. By shopping at a flagship store you’re more likely to find the newest collections, so give them a visit if you want the most options.


Also, if you haven’t been to Bicester Village by now, it’s about time you went. Located near Oxford, it’s made up of designer outlets with the likes of brands such as Alexander Mcqueen, Burberry, D&G and many more. Heaven! There is up to 60% off top brands all year round, and currently British brand Temperley are giving an extra 20% off. It’s definitely worth having a look around, so head down after your exams for some retail therapy.



If you are swamped with work, as most of us are, the best option is to browse the web first to get ideas. One of our favourite websites for glamorous gowns is Forever Unique. Don’t be put off by the fact that this brand is a favourite of the likes of Towie cast members: the dresses are sophisticated and come in a rainbow of colours so you will find your favourite shade. You’ll be the belle of the ball in the pastel pink gown, which is £250. Yikes! If that’s way out of your price range, Lipsy also sells some similar party dresses for a more reasonable price. Millie Mackintosh’s collection is perfect for a formal event; this blue dress has got the wow factor, and the jewelled sweetheart neckline adds some glitz. It also comes in an eye-popping red, and is £130. So make sure you follow our guide in order to find an amazing dress for your ball, and we hope you have fun in the search. Remember to make the most of your student discount while you still have one!


Photo Credits








Lily Houghton is in her final year at Exeter studying English. With an unhealthy addiction to shopping, and unparalled knowledge of Exeter's retail sector, the role of Fashion and Beauty Editor seemed to be made for Lily, and her parents were thrilled she channelled her energy towards something that didn't involve spending money. Whilst her goal of bringing the catwalks of Milan and Paris to the sunny south of England may be slighty ambitious, she also hopes to banish the jeans/flip-flop trend from campus once and for all, and impose an immediate expulsion rule on anyone seen in daylight in a onesie. Contradictory to many women interested in fashion, she loves cake, her Ugg boots, and spending an afternoon immersed in an Emily Dickinson anthology. She hopes to travel America before going into the fashion industry, although she still hasn't come to terms with just how soon she will be graduating. 
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