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Online Formal Dress Shopping 101

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

We are quickly approaching formal season, which means we have to start thinking about dresses!


Online dress shopping can be scary and intimidating. What if the fabric is weird? What if it is too long? What if it’s too big or small? I have been to several formals now and have some tips for how to online shop for formal wear and where to shop from.


First Tip:

My first piece of advice is to purchase a couple dresses or have back ups from your friends. The reason being, if you order just one and it shows up not how you imagined you have others to choose from. I know returning can be a hassle, however being dress-less the week of your dance is way more stressful! Below you will find dress options with a wide range of price points. Keep in mind you don’t have to spend a fortune to find a beautiful dress for one night!

Second Tip:

Choose the best color and style best for your event. If your formal is during the spring time, choose bright and light colors. If your formal is during the winter, choose rich and royal colors. In this case, it is spring time so look for those blush pinks, baby blues, and all the springy colors in the color wheel! If you have a vision for your hair or makeup choose the best color and neckline that will match. As for length, you can go midi length or floor length depending on what type of formal you are attending.

Third Tip:

Actually measure your size when ordering and look at each store’s size chart. I can not stress this enough, I know a lot of us think we can just guess our sizes, no! Have a friend help you measure you and choose your size accordingly, it will make your life much easier. As for length, this can be tricky especially last minute needing your dress hemmed at a college campus. Look at the lengths of the dressess and consider your height and what shoe size you will be wearing.

Fourth Tip:

When beginning looking for a dress it might be a little confusing what category to click on for longer, foor length dresses. The keywords to best find these types of dresses are: formal, maxi, and gowns.


Now that you have some tips on how to online shop for a formal dress, here are some reliable online shops with great options.


Hello Molly


White Fox Boutique





House of CB XX


Kate Chapman

Illinois State '19

Hi everyone, my name is Kate Chapman and I am a HC Illinois State editor-in-chief! I am a senior journalism student at Illinois State University and have found I have a passion for incorporating fashion and beauty into my writing and work. Check out my blog (misskatechapman.com) or follow me on Instagram @misskatechapman to connect!