Where to find modest formal dresses

Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Got an email from Hannah last month (sorry it took so long, Hannah!!) about where to find affordable modest formal dresses for her high school formals:
It's really hard for me to find a modest dress for my high school formals - I'm 16 and I'm 5'11''. Do you know of ways to either made a dress more appropriate (to cover shoulders) or good places to buy modest dresses that aren't too expensive? At my age, I have a pretty limited budget, but I still want to keep my dress modest. Unfortunately, most dresses tend to be thin-strapped or strapless... so any insight would definitely help me on my dress hunt! Thank you so much!!
Honestly, I have NO IDEA! I wore the same cheap dress to all my Homecoming dances and I only went to my Junior Prom and I bought a modestish dress from Utah and got the sleeves altered.

You could always go to Utah like I did and get a fashionable and on-trend modest dress but they're a bit on the pricier side:






A Dressy Occassion


For a cheaper option instead of buying a new dress is to go to your local thrift and consignment stores to see if there are any formal dresses that you can clean and fix up at home.

If your friends are getting tired of wearing the same dresses, have a dress swap!

If you find a dress you love but it is immodest, make it modest by also buying a bolero or shrug to cover your shoulders or a lengthen the hem with another skirt underneath.

For more information, check out ModestProm.com. It looks they really did their research when it comes to where and how to buy modest formal dresses. They even have links to modest dress and bolero patterns!


Now let's hear your tips!! Share your advices and modest dress shopping experiences below.

18 comments :

  1. I'm not mormon, but I do dress modestly so I have a suggestion! I feel like sometime you would feel out of place wearing sleeves when everybody else is in strapless unless you have a really special dress. I think you should try to buy a vintage short-sleeved dress. Since vintage is so popular right now, it might not be that hard to find, & it would make the dress extra special.

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  2. As a recently graduated high school student, I've faced that same problem. I think shopping online might be your best bet- google "formal midi dresses" and bunches of dresses shoul come up. Even if you have to scrounge around through many shorter dresses, I've found that places like ASOS, Shabby Apple (definitely), and Modcloth will have some nice knee length dresses and skirts. Thank heavens the midi trend is in. I also found my favorite formal dress at White House| Black Market on sale (it's sleeveless but I wear a cardigan and feel just fine). Oh! Even if I don't personally like the brand (there are never zippers!), Jolene tends to have inexpensive modest formal dresses, as does Walkers Eternity Bridal. Hope I helped!

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  3. CrinklephotographyAugust 24, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    That's great!  I no longer have special events to go to but if I did... thanks!

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  4. thank you for the links! 

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  5. Another site to check out is http://www.eshakti.com/.  While it's not a modest dress site per se, you can customize dresses with different sleeves, necklines, and length.  Plus, you can enter your height.  Basically it's perfect for creating a modest dress.

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  6. I agree with Emily.  Back when my daughter was in high school, I ended up having to make all her dresses because she went to a conservative Christian school and dresses had to be modest.  A vintage dress might fit the bill.

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  7. I second eShakti! Amazing dresses, great prices (you get $20 off your first order just for signing up!) and customizable sleeves, lengths, etc. Check it out!

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  8. If you're in the Utah/Idaho area, check out CraigsList. Some people might even ship, I don't know. But I do see lots of formal dresses with sleeves in the SLC CL. Or if you're out in the rest of the US, I'd try to find a family with slightly older girls -- girls that have graduated high school perhaps? And see if you can buy/borrow their dresses from dances. And lastly, I've seen lots of modest formals at Allyse's (they also sell wedding dresses). They're located in Provo, don't know if they sell online.

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  9. oh yes, modest formal dresses are SO hard to find; i'm on the lookout for a prom dress for this year! thanks for all the sites!! 

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  10. I don't know if one would consider them inexpensive, but shabbyapple.com has some cute modest dresses. Otherwise, I have a few dresses my mother made me for grad and such, I wouldn't mind passing on :)

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  11. Recently I have seen a few fairly inexpensive formal dresses at DownEast Basics. Not a huge selection, but if you can find something you like, it is nice.

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  12. What I did for one of my formal dances is bought a floor length dress from Ross (so it was super cheap) and then my mom and I cut off the bottom (to the knees) and made some cute little cap sleeves out of the extra fabric. Another dance my mom made my dress from scratch, but it took a while and was kind of frustrating for both of us, so I don't recommend it unless you are a baller and are willing to deal with all that. Another dress wasn't formal at all and so I sewed a sash onto it and dressed it up big time with accessories. Another one, I got a bolero and a black pencil skirt to modestfy an immodest one. And then I've also just borrowed one from a friend who had spent hundreds for one of her proms. Ok, that's all I got for you :)

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  13. Thank you! The area I live has really limited selection in modest clothing, so online is probably a good idea - the sites are really helpful!

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  14. Elaine, thanks for the post! It was really helpful and with perfect timing, since Homecoming is a few weeks away. There were great ideas here in the comments, too, so I'm super grateful to everyone who suggested things :) When I find one I'll let you know!

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  15. Another place i wouldn't consider inexpensive, but i would consider AWESOME and a wardrobe investment piece is betsey johnson.  While her dresses can be spendy, it's a great place to look for dresses as some of them (look in the day dresses section of her website) have sleeves and even her strapless ones can look great with a small cardigan over or fitted shirt under and if you're crafty you can usually find at a decent price if you either look online or (if you can) wait for a sale.  I've bought most of my bj dresses at a quarter to half the price by going to one of her shops when she's having a "extra 40% off already reduced price" sale. I hear she just launched a new line where everything in it is under $100 too but I don't know what all is included or if there's any fancy dresses.  I also feel like lots of her dresses can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories so you can wear it more than once.  Happy shopping!

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  16. i was going to suggest this site too, they do have some really gorgeous dresses and i love that you can add customizations!

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  17. Here... this would be a better way to say what I was trying to say in my previous comment...

    http://thegirlsbackhome.blogspot.com/2011/09/homecoming.html

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  18. I think designer dresses actually tend to be more modest than something you'd find in the Macy's Junior section.  Try discount department stores like Loehmann's! You'll find the same stuff they sell at Saks and Neiman Marcus, for a much better price (usually a season or two out of date, but really with a classic dress it won't matter).  Also, modcloth.com has a lot of stylish conservative options to choose from!

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