Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Formal Dresses

Last updated on October 11, 2022

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Formal Dresses

View All Recommendations
Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Runner Up

XXTAXN Adjustable Spaghetti Straps Maxi Formal Dress

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval


Adjustable Spaghetti Straps Maxi Formal Dress

This long and flowy formal dress has a floor-length silhouette. It also features a plunging neckline and pleated bodice. The dress has adjustable spaghetti straps for the perfect fit.

Overall Take

Long and FlowyThis formal dress has a floor-length silhouette.

 Strong Contender

Miusol Floral Lace Maxi Formal Dress


Floral Lace Maxi Formal Dress

This vintage formal dress has an old-world look. It features a high collar and cap sleeves. The dress has a zipper along the back.

Overall Take

Vintage DesignThis formal dress has old-world appeal.

Buying Guide

When it comes to formal dresses, there are so many options to choose from. You can go with a designer gown or something from a vintage collection; choose from a literal rainbow of colors and pick a style that suits your personality. However, with so many choices available, it can be overwhelming narrowing down a dress for you.

Start by considering the occasion first, as this will help you determine what kind of dress you need. For example, do you need a dress for a wedding you’re attending at a fancy hotel downtown or for a corporate function with your work colleagues? Do you want something that works for daytime or are you heading to a late-night event? Asking yourself these questions will begin to point you in the right direction. If you don’t have a specific event you’re buying the dress for, consider how you’re most likely to wear it over the course of a year. For example, do you think you’ll wear the dress at cocktail parties or business functions for the most part.

Another important element to think about when you’re buying formal dresses is your body type. While every body type can wear any style of dress, sometimes people prefer certain styles based on the physical features they want to highlight. For example, if you have an apple or inverted triangle body shape, you may want to go with a dress style flares out at the hips to balance out your upper proportions. If you have a rectangular or banana figure, then a dress that has lots of ruffles and bows will create the illusion of curves on your body. If you have a pear-shaped body, go with styles that have a lot of texture on the upper half of the dress to bring the eye up from your hips.

What to Look For

  • When it comes to cost, formal dresses run the gamut. You can find a stunning dress for under a hundred dollars or you can spend thousands of dollars for a knockout option. Be sure to set a budget for yourself to stick to so that you don’t go overboard. Having a budget will help you find a dress that you love that also is appropriately wallet friendly.
  • Sizing can be tricky when you’re buying formal dresses online, which is why it’s important to do your homework. Grab a flexible tape measure and find out what your size is as compared to the sizing charts for the dresses you like. Be sure to also read reviews to find out if the dress fits small or large, as that may change what size you buy. Doing this prep work will ensure the dress you buy fits you the way you want.
  •  Are you more trendy or classic? Trendy dresses are those that are popular now versus classic dresses that are popular for the long term. Some people prefer to wear the latest styles, but keep in mind that they may not be trendy for long. The benefits of a classic formal dress are that it will always be popular and you can wear it years from now. Classic formal dress styles include A-line skirts, sweetheart necklines and V-shaped necklines.

More to Explore

When buying a formal dress, don’t forget the accessories. These include shoes, hosiery, purses, jewelry, watches, hair pieces and so much more. If you’re going to a formal occasion, the whole outfit matters. Pay special attention to the shoes, especially if the event is outside. If you’re going to be walking on grass, for example, stay away from stiletto heels as they can dig into the ground and cause you to trip. When it comes to purses, consider what things you need to hold in it and choose the smallest size that will accommodate what you need.

From our partners