When Is The Best Time To Buy A Prom Dress? [Tips And Suggestions]

Prom is an exciting milestone in most teens’ lives. The dress, the date, and the actual dancing are all things that many anticipate from the time they enter high school.

And let’s be honest, shopping for the dress is almost more fun than actually going to the dance. So grab your best friends and find the best time to buy a prom dress to get ready for the night of your dreams.

To ensure the best selection, time to coordinate with your date, and to allow time for alterations, start shopping for your prom dress in January. Try to make your selection and buy your prom dress early in the year, ideally by February or March. This will keep the rest of your year stress-free and allow you to have a great time at prom in May.

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Prom Dress?

Most dress retailers and designers recommend starting your prom dress search early, often in January or February. The reason for this is due to the larger selection and release of the latest styles.

Most schools and organizations hold proms in early Spring, with the majority being in May. Retail stores begin to stock prom dresses and formal attire options in January after they switch over from holiday displays.

If you are going to an earlier prom, you might want to buy your prom dress as early as November. Buying a prom dress early can mean finding a great deal, not to mention avoiding the stress and panic of searching for a prom dress at the last minute.

1.Early Shopping Selection

The biggest benefit of shopping early for your prom dress is having a better selection of dresses to choose from for your prom. If you wait until April or May to find a prom dress, the selection will be more limited.

You might even need to venture out further to find a dress that fits your style. This can add stress to an otherwise fun time. It can also add to the overall cost of the dress since you will likely be driving further to find it.

For those who have a specific dress or style in mind, it’s almost a necessity to shop early. It will get harder to find the most in-demand styles (often those seen on celebrities or influencers in the past year) or color the closer you get to the actual prom.

2.Formal Dress Designs

Prom dresses styles often follow other formal dress trends of the past few years. What you see on a cutting-edge celebrity in the fall may be all the rage for that year’s prom. Dress designers watch these trends closely and design gowns that will appeal to teens.

If you worry about your dress going out of style by buying it too early, you can always go for a more classic silhouette. Dress with elements like ballgown skirts, sweetheart necklines, and cutouts have been popular for years and are expected to stand the test of prom fashion for many more to come.

Bridal stores are another great place to look for formal dresses. Major chain David’s Bridal has a great selection, as well as periodic discount codes to save money on a prom or homecoming dress.

3.Prom Dress Layaway

Choosing your prom dress early can also allow you to put it on layaway until closer to the prom day. This allows teens to pay for their dress over time and not risk damaging it at home.

If you worry about another girl buying the same dress, ask the store if they offer dress guarantees. Not all stores participate, but some do mark a certain dress style and color as “taken” for a particular prom. This means that they will not sell the same dress to another girl who is attending the same prom.

4.Online Prom Dresses

There are plenty of online sites that offer prom dresses at a great price. Just make sure to purchase your dress early to allow for any issues that might arise with shipping and to get it altered, if needed.

  • Lulu’s
  • Sherri Hill
  • Pretty Little Thing (also offers a student discount)
  • For Love & Lemons
  • ASOS
  • Unique Vintage (also offers free shipping)
  • H&M

If you sign up for email newsletters, you can get even more savings. Many companies offer 10% – 15% off your purchase using an email discount code.

5.Prom Dress Alterations

For a really amazing look, consider getting your prom dress altered for a custom fit. Some dress stores offer this service. David’s Bridal, Nordstrom, and Dillard’s all provide tailoring. You can save time and money by using a convenient alteration service where you buy your dress.

You can also take your dress to your local tailor and ask them if they can make any needed alterations. You will need to try on your dress with the undergarments and shoes that you plan to wear to make sure that the alterations will look just as great on the day of prom.

Allow at least a few weeks for prom dress alterations. If there are a lot of other people getting dresses altered at the same time of year (which is likely, considering prom and wedding season picks up in the early spring), you may have to wait even longer.

Buying your prom dress early so that you can get any tailoring done before things get busy is a great idea.

Coordinating Your Prom Dress

Buying your prom dress early will take one thing off of your plate as you get ready for prom. One of the best parts of going to prom is coordinating a fun look with your date or a group of friends.

1.Accessorizing Your Dress

Buying a prom dress is just one step in your overall prom look. You probably also want to pick out jewelry, makeup, and shoes that will complete your prom ensemble. You should give yourself plenty of time to pick out these items, preferably after you have already chosen and purchased your prom dress.

If you plan to have your dress altered, it is very important that you get it fitted while wearing the shoes that you plan to wear to prom. The type and height of your shoes can really impact the tailoring, specifically the hem.

2.Complimenting Your Date

If you are taking a male date to prom and he is wearing a suit or tux, there are a few small touches that he can make to coordinate with your prom dress. A cumberbund in a complementary or matching color is a nice way to make your overall look mesh.

Buying your prom dress early can make this a bit easier since you will already know what color to use. Your date can also go with a more classic look with a black or white cumberbund, no cumberbund, or a modern suit.

Either way, it helps to know the overall look that you want to achieve as a couple to make your dress work best.

3.Friend Prom Looks

If you are attending prom with a group of friends, coordinating dresses can be a really fun way to make the night memorable and special. Some people choose to do this by buying matching dresses in different colors or different dresses in the same color.

You can also choose a group look and allow each person to choose the dress that she likes best. Making these decisions early will take some of the guesswork out of shopping for a prom dress and make the entire experience one you will never forget.

Tip: Plan a fun day (or two) of shopping with your friends. Try on dresses, take pictures, and make memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.

The Best Time To Go Prom Dress Shopping

To determine the ideal time for you to shop for your dream prom dress, start by finding out the exact date of your prom. If your prom is in early May, backtrack at least one month if you plan on getting your dress altered for a custom fit.

This means that you should have your dress to the tailors by early April at the latest.

Allow for two months to find the perfect dress. If you have to travel to go to dress stores, it can take even longer since you won’t be able to just pop into the store when you have a free moment to look around. This means that you should start your prom dress search in early February.

Many dress stores start to put out prom dresses in December or January. If you have a particular dress or style in mind, the earlier that you start looking, the better your chances are of finding that dream prom dress. This means that the best time to go prom dress shopping is in January.

Finding Discounts On Prom Dresses

Prom can get expensive but there are a few ways to find a fantastic prom dress for less:

1.Shop Last Year’s Styles

If you are looking for a classic dress that will never go out of style, many of last year’s dresses fit that look. Because they are timeless, you can take advantage of dress retailers’ sales after prom and find the perfect dress for you.

This is shopping way in advance (buying a prom dress in the summer for the next year’s prom) but can really save a lot of money.

2.Rent A Dress

A few companies offer dress rentals for a fraction of the cost it would be to actually buy the dress. For an important event like prom, it’s a good idea to rent a few sizes or styles at once or rent your dress in advance for a test run. This way you know that the dress you are renting is just what you wanted.

Final Thoughts

To make the most of your prom experience, the best time to buy a prom dress is in January or February. This reduces the potential for stress by ensuring the largest selection when shopping for a dress, allowing for time to find the perfect accessories, and building in time for any needed alterations.

You can also find some really great deals by looking at last year’s inventory or renting a dress for your prom.