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Prom season might still be a little way off, but it might pay to start shopping for prom dresses early to avoid disappointment. The hottest prom looks can sell quickly, and adding potential delays into the mix is a recipe for disaster. 

If you’re wondering whether you should buy your teen’s prom dress early this year, here’s why it’s a good idea. 

Reasons to buy a prom dress early

To beat pandemic-related delays

Although most companies are now running smoothly, the COVID-19 pandemic is still causing staff shortages, which can lead to delays in fulfillment centers and in the postal service. If you order a dress online at the last minute, it’s completely feasible that it will arrive late. Instead, order early, and there’ll be no need to stress about whether or not it will get to you in time. 

In case your teen changes their mind

Everyone has the right to change their mind, so you don’t want to get into a situation where your teen decides they no longer like the dress they chose and have nothing suitable to wear. 

This can be a particular issue when shopping online because items may look different in person or fit quite differently from the way it fits the model in the photo. Or you may simply discover the dress is too big or too small when tried on.

When you buy early, there’s time to exchange the dress for another one or a different size before the big event if necessary.   

To go bespoke

Prom is a big deal for many teens, especially senior prom, which marks a farewell to high school before moving on to college or the world of work. As such, they may want an extra special dress. Bespoke, made-to-measure dresses fit like a glove, which can make teens feel good about themselves as they head off to the dance. They don’t have to cost a fortune, either. This is especially true when you buy dresses from independent brands, which often cost around the same price as high-end off-the-rack dresses.

What to look for in a prom dress

Although there’s no single feature that makes a dress a prom dress, this type of garment is significantly more formal than an everyday dress. Many have full, flouncy skirts, tight bodices and are embellished with beads, lacework, rhinestones or sequins. They can be full-length, knee-length or above knee-length, but many buyers opt for longer styles. 

While these are the hallmarks of a classic prom dress, teens can wear any dress they like to the prom, so it’s fine to opt for something quite different. If they prefer casual dresses or want to opt for something with an alternative vibe, there’s nothing stopping them. Not everyone goes for a classic prom dress, and it’s all about what the wearer feels happy, comfortable and confident in. 

Best prom dresses

B Darlin Juniors Off-The-Shoulder Glitter Gown

B Darlin Juniors’ Off-The-Shoulder Glitter Gown

With a long, full skirt, fitted bodice, off-the-shoulder design and sparkly pale rose fabric, this is the princess dress of some teens’ dreams.

Sold by Macy’s

Say Yes to the Prom Strapless Embellished Ballgown

Say Yes to the Prom Strapless Embellished Ballgown

This stunning ivory dress is embellished with gold beads. Although it’s described as strapless, it does have two thin spaghetti straps.

Sold by Macy’s

City Studios Juniors Embellished Illusion Tulip Gown

City Studios Juniors’ Embellished Illusion Tulip Gown

Thanks to the lace and crochet bodice backed with nude panels and the long, flowing skirt, this dress has a relaxed, boho look while still being smart enough for the prom. It comes in pink, navy and lemon.

Sold by Macy’s

Superbprom Lace and Tulle Prom Dress

Superbprom Lace and Tulle Prom Dress

This gorgeously flouncy dress is available in a range of sizes and colors, or you can choose a custom color and a custom size to get a precise fit.

Sold by Etsy


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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