When it comes to buying prom dresses, finding the right vendor can be overwhelming. From the countless number of places you can buy prom dresses online to local malls stuffed with bargain-priced dresses, girls have a lot of options to wade through. But where is the best place to buy prom dresses?
Before heading to Amazon.com or the nearest Deb’s, you should carefully consider what different prom dress vendors offer in terms of budget, quality and value-added services like tailoring, care and handling.
Just because a dress looks good in an image doesn’t guarantee it will look good in person. Similarly, dresses bought from the mall at a bargain basement price aren’t likely to come with tailoring services, and cheap materials can reveal flaws once they’re brought home.
Establishing a Budget
Prom dress shopping without having a specific budget in mind can lead to overspending, so it’s a good idea to enter in to the buying process with a set budget in mind. Remember: you need to factor in not only the cost of the dress, but also the cost of accessories. Deciding how much you’re willing to spend overall can help guide your buying decisions.
If you have a unique body type, maybe you want to allocate more money to a custom-tailored dress. If you have your heart set on a certain pair of designer shoes, maybe you want to allocate a lower budget to your dress. How much you’re willing to spend on each item will determine the best place for you to shop.
Why Quality Matters
For many girls, prom night is the biggest event of the school year. You want to look – and feel – fabulous! Many cheap dresses look great on the hanger, and may even look good in the dressing room, but after an hour on the dance floor, poorly made dresses will pinch, bind or become too loose.
Poorly constructed embroidery can become loose and fall off. Remember – you need to look great the entire night, and feeling comfortable in your dress without having to constantly adjust it will make your night memorable for all the right reasons – not because of a dress disaster!
Buying Prom Dresses Online
If you’re on a strict dress budget, dress shopping online might be a good solution – but you have to be careful. Colors represented in dress images may not always match the actual dress, and there are no guarantees when it comes to fit. Look for reputable vendors, and be sure to read vendor reviews before purchasing.
Make sure the dress comes with a size return policy. However safe you play it, buying online is a gamble, so make sure online dress purchases are made far enough in advance.
Shopping for Prom Dresses at the Mall
The mall can be a great place to browse and get an idea of what kind of dress you’re looking for. Stores like Deb’s and Mariposa keep a large inventory of prom dresses on hand, so there’s often plenty to choose from. Most mall stores do not, however, offer custom fitting services, so fit will need to be precise.
Keep in mind that not all dresses can be tailored; prom dresses made with cheap materials can be especially difficult to tailor, so don’t buy a dress from the mall with the expectation that it can be custom fitted later – it might be better to spend a little more on a dress from a store which offers fitting services.
Local Party & Bridal Boutiques
Local dress boutiques tend to offer the most in terms of quality and tailoring services. These stores tend to keep a smaller in-stock inventory of higher quality prom dresses, but these in-stock dresses are often from designer lines which are hard to find in larger chain stores. Most party and bridal boutiques have extensive catalog selection of designer prom dresses which can be ordered and custom fitted.
Keep in mind that catalog ordering and custom fitting can take time, so the sooner your dress is ordered, the better. If you’re looking to avoid the “cookie cutter” look on prom night with a designer dress that’s truly one-of-a-kind, local boutiques are your best option.