Is there any high school scenario worse than showing up for prom in the same dress that several other girls are wearing? Even one other girl wearing the same dress is something of a tragedy (especially if she looks better in it than you do). So you’re probably keen to find a truly unique garment that makes you look and feel special and beautiful on this singular night. But if you’re limited to department stores and local shops, you might be facing the same selection as every other prom-goer in town. Luckily, you have the internet at your disposal, which means there is a whole world of possibilities when it comes to finding a one-of-a-kind gown to wear to your prom. And here are just a few things you’ll want to consider when you start shopping.

Current trends and timeless appeal.

Most of the girls at your school are likely to take the path of least resistance when it comes to shopping for a prom dress, which means they’ll hit the mall or head to bridal stores in search of formal finery. But if you’re looking for something special and unique, you might want to consider seeking out garments that qualify as a classic by hitting up vintage stores or trolling amazon. Of course, you don’t necessarily want your dress to look like something your grandmother wore. In this case, consider pulling a Molly Ringwald a la ‘Pretty in Pink’ by bringing your retro dress into the modern era with some timely alterations. You’ll end up with a garment that is guaranteed to be unique and you might even save some money, depending on what you find.

Fit and flatter.

There are all kinds of styles to choose from when it comes to formal attire. You could go with a floor-length, tea-length, or knee-length gown, just for example. There are long sleeves, cap sleeves, and strapless options to consider. You might choose a form-fitting sheath, a princess dress, a classic A-line, or a bubble skirt. But the last thing you want to do is look like you threw on a baggy burnoose for the prom. No matter what style you go with, make sure the dress you pick is appropriately sized so that you don’t look like you’re swimming in your frock, or alternately like you’re a sausage stuffed into a casing. Your best bet is to buy a size up and have a seamstress alter your gown down to fit you perfectly.


The problem with finding unique gowns is that they’re likely to cost you an arm and a leg. The trick to keeping down the cost is to give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect dress. If you start shopping well before prom season, you can not only scout several retailers in search of a gown, but you can also take advantage of the holiday and end-of-season sales to get a great discount on the prom dress of your dreams.

Alternative retailers.

If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, you’ll actually have to do some searching. And there are plenty of options that aren’t department stores, especially online. For one thing, you can check out websites that specialize in formal wear, knowing that it’s pretty unlikely other girls will show up in the same dress you ordered online. You can also hit up sites like Etsy to find vintage and handmade options. And there are DOTD sites like HauteLook and Gilt that can offer discounts on designer options. But if you really want a one-of-a-kind look, check out Rent the Runway, where you can actually rent an haute couture gown for the night at a reasonably affordable rate.


No matter what dress you buy, you’ll want to take steps to make it your own. This begins with alterations that ensure your dress fits you like it was made for you. And you can also take this opportunity to add or delete features as you see fit. You should also shop around to find the perfect accessories for prom, from essentials like shoes and a clutch to classics like gloves and a tiara. As a final plan for total individuality, you can even have a gown custom made. This will cost you a pretty penny, but it will definitely ensure you’re the only one wearing your dress on prom night.