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I’ve always been something of a “practical” shopper. Even in high school, when I was choosing between a selection of veritably chic prom dresses, I wanted to pick something that would endure—something I could look back on in five, maybe even 10 years, and still adore. I guess my high school self fancied future me special enough to get invited to galas, balls and other gown-worthy affairs. Much to her dismay, I’m not. To her delight, however, I do still love my high school prom dress.
My goal then—as is my goal now—was to splurge on investment pieces when the time called for it. Prom dresses are rarely cheap, and I wanted to use my money wisely. Shopping for chic prom dresses was an opportunity to drop cash on a statement-making gown, but it was also a chance to add another asset to my closet; show-stoppers are great, but show-stoppers you can rewear time and time again are even more enticing. Not to mention, I was determined to choose a prom dress that demonstrated how ~fashion-forward~ I was. I wouldn’t be the middle-aged woman looking back on her high school prom photos and laughing at her ridiculous, fad-based choice; I would be the middle-aged woman reminiscing on her high school prom photos with a proud AF look on her face, thinking to myself, “Yup, even then, I was straight killin’ it.”
With younger me in mind, I set out to find an array of chic prom dresses that are fit for high schoolers and adults, alike. I swear: Every single dress included in this roundup is something I, a 24-year-old Fashion Editor living in New York City, would wear if I scored an invite to a worthy event. And all of them are just as fit for high school prom. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t cast rationality aside and wear the prom dress of your dreams—even if it’s not a practical addition to your closet. You do you. But if doing you involves planning ahead and opting for a timelessly fashion-forward prom dress (admittedly, a pretty strange brand of nerdiness), scroll on.
1. Halter Column Maxi Dress, $190 at ASOS
This column maxi is endlessly chic, and the color make it an absolute showstopper. Get creative with statement jewelry and accessories for a next-level look.
2. Leather Wrap Dress, $420 at Topshop
Know this: You’ll never regret owning a hot AF leather mini.
3. A Star Is Born Tinsel Mini Dress, $253 at ASOS
Because there’s nothing wrong with looking extra, and this is a mini you’ll rewear at college parties and clubs for years to come.
4. Vila Pleated Metallic Knot Midi Dress, $32 at ASOS
This is literally sitting on my wishlist, waiting to be purchased—and it’s on sale.
5. Bec & Bridge Margaux Low-Back Dress, $257 at ASOS
A no-fail silhouette in a no-fail color. You’ll thank yourself for this one later.
6. Bariano Full Maxi Dress, $348 at ASOS
OK, I’m not sure when you’ll have the chance to wear this absolutely magnificent gown again. But if you ever get invited to a formal affair, you’ll jump at the chance to whip this out and stun everyone in sight.
7. leRumi Maisie Mini Dress, $168 at Shopbop
Because closets are more fun when they have fringe dresses in them.
8. Halter Top Dress, $39.90 at Zara
A very 1920s cute met a very 2019 color—then, the two fell in love and created this dress you’ll be happy to own for decades to come.
9. Midi Knot-Front Kimono Dress, $72 at ASOS
Kimono dresses are just worth having on hand.
10. Love Triangle Multi-Stripe Jumpsuit, $71 at ASOS
Uh yes, jumpsuits are on the menu for this one—especially jumpsuits that look this good.
11. Paneled Maxi Dress, $174 at ASOS
A statement-making maxi that’ll take you to prom, to fancy beachside dinners, to date nights and maybe even to rehearsal dinners, too.
12. re:named Maddy Slip Dress, $62 at Shopbop
Slip dresses are huge in 2019, and there’s no limit to who should or shouldn’t wear them.
13. Kimono Pleated Maxi Skater Dress, $60 at ASOS
But this now, and wear it everywhere.
14. Cami Ruffle Dress, $103 at ASOS
A party dress fit for a wedding—that’s a win.
15. Halter Maxi Fishtail Dress, $151 at ASOS
Another option that’s literally sitting on my wishlist. (I’d buy it—if only I had somewhere to wear it.)
16. New Look Silver Glitter Wrap Jumpsuit, $37 at ASOS
Affordable, flattering and chic as hell—what’s not to love?
17. House of Holland Extreme Frill Dress, $624 at ASOS
Because if you’re bold enough to appreciate this statement-maker for what it is now, you’ll definitely be bold enough to appreciate it for years to come.
18. Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Dress, $87 at ASOS
A maxi take on the kimono gown, because seriously, some version of it is worth owning.
19. Dress with Sleeve Detail, $39.90 at Zara
Dress this LBD up or down as you see fit, and it’ll carry you everywhere.
20. Premium Cape Maxi Dress, $103 at ASOS
OK, you might not get a chance to re-wear this one until you’re literally engaged, but wearing a floor-length cape to prom is definitely worth it.
21. Fringe Mesh Strappy Bodycon Maxi Dress, $76 at ASOS
A longline fringe option, in case your prom is short dress-averse.
22. Halter Column Maxi Dress, $190 at ASOS
Another classic column dress rendered in a more subtle shade. Plays seriously well with statement earrings.
23. Black Halo Loxlee Sheath Dress, $375 at Shopbop
This stunning sheath doubles as a holiday party dress, triples as a winter wedding guest dress and quadruples as a go-to cocktail dress for any party on your radar.
24. Plunge-Neck Plisse Halter Jumpsuit, $56 at ASOS
This one skews a little trendier than the rest, but you’ll get so much wear out of it in the coming years that it kind of doesn’t matter.
25. Knit Flapper Dress, $59.90 at Zara
26. Midi Slip Dress, $64 at ASOS
Another sleek AF slip dress for your perusal.
27. Pleated Strappy Jumpsuit, $69.90 at Zara
Jumpsuits are far from a passing fad, and you could wear this stunning emerald green beauty anywhere.
28. Dixie Metallic Jumpsuit, $249 at Anthropologie
A jumpsuit that’ll look like a dress in photos—if you’re worried about that.
29. Scatter Sequin Knot-Front Kimono Midi Dress, $119 at ASOS
Because sparkle is not only allowed—it’s encouraged.
30. Cage-Back Maxi Dress, $40 at ASOS
Someone at my school definitely wore the short hemline version of this to our winter formal.
31. BB Dakota Night Fever Wrap Dress, $73.50 at Shopbop
Wear it to prom, and then pair it with tights to wear literally anywhere else during the calendar’s coldest months.
32. Bec & Bridge Disco Dancer Midi Dress, $257 at ASOS
You could probably get away with wearing this to your friend’s wedding. And you could definitely get away with wearing it to a cocktail party.
33. Rachel Zoe Violet Dress, $695 at Shopbop
This one looks as comfortable as it is cute, and you can easily dress it down with statement jewelry for summer wear.
34. Metallic Plisse Midi Dress, $72 at ASOS
Endlessly cute, and fit for all kinds of occasions.
35. Bias Slip Dress, $120 at Anthropologie
Another slip dress, because the market can’t get enough—and I can’t, either.
36. Sherbert Lace Midi Dress, $188 at Anthropologie
A more classic take on the prom dress, because there are plenty of ways to do “practical” that don’t involve edgy-chic style.
37. Rebecca Minkoff Gwen Dress, $298 at Shopbop
Look, if I had an excuse to drop $300 on a dress right now, you bet I’d buy this one.
38. Club L Fishtail Maxi Dress, $56 at ASOS
Not sure about this one’s re-wearable potential, but it’s so sleek I kind of don’t care.
39. Cutabout Jersey Dress, $140 at Topshop
Equal parts versatile and comfortable—what’s not to love?
40. C/Meo Collective Decided Dress, $225 at Shopbop
A truly show-stopping way to do a statement gown.
41. Fashion Union Wrap-Front Maxi Dress, $21 at ASOS
Another one that’s been sitting on my wishlist for way too long.
42. Needle & Thread Embroidered Tulle Skater Dress, $285 at ASOS
Super dreamy. Fit for prom—and like, every wedding you’re ever invited to ever.
43. PrettyLittleThing Kimono-Sleeve Wide-Leg Jumpsuit, $32 at ASOS
A silhouette worth owning—and you’ll be the most comfortable person anywhere you wear it.
44. John Zack Plunge Skater Dress, $79 at ASOS
A classic party dress cut, rendered in a classic party dress fabric.
45. Vanessa Backless Halter Pleated Maxi Dress, $60 at ASOS
A column dress that’s a little flowier—and fit for beachside wear.
46. High-Neck ’70s Maxi Dress, $67 at ASOS
Polka-dot party dresses are always a good idea.
47. Morgan Knitted Swing Dress, $98 at ASOS
Dress this swing dress up with statement accessories, and people will be admiring your chic take on style all night long.
48. Leopard Wide-Leg Jumpsuit, $168 at Anthropologie
Party jumpsuits are always a good investment.
49. Lipsy Allover Lace Dress, $89 at ASOS
A go-to cocktail dress for years to come.
50. Naples Dress, $140 at Anthropologie
An understated silhouette for prom—and one that’s sure to keep all eyes on you and your out-of-the-box choice.
51. Sequin Chiffon Maxi Dress, $140 at Topshop
And LBD with enough party-worthy shimmer to get you through prom (and every other sparkle-friendly occasion on your calendar).
52. Needle & Thread Gloss Sequin Cami Dress, $429 at Shopbop
Incredibly cute and incredibly versatile. Parties, dinners, weddings—here you come.
53. Long-Sleeve Textured Wrap Midi Dress, $45 at ASOS
I’d literally wear this out this weekend.
54. Jarlo Fishtail Maxi Dress, $151 at ASOS
A perfect-for-prom cut fit for any future galas and balls that manage to make it on your calendar.
55. Saloni Nikki Mini Dress, $550 at Shopbop
Because printed prom dresses are absolutely a thing—and they’re veritable re-wearable.
56. Virgos Lounge Maxi Dress, $222 at ASOS
This is basically what my high school prom dress looked like—so you can imagine why I haven’t found an occasion to re-wear it.
57. Likely Conrad Dress, $188 at Shopbop
Cute, bright, sunny, chic—a win on all fronts.
58. Chi Chi London High-Neck Lace Dress, $128 at ASOS
This lace midi is practically begging to be paired with your favorite statement accessories.
59. Likely Midori Gown, $378 at Shopbop
Incredibly chic—and alt enough to keep you turning heads, no matter how many times you re-wear it.
60. Faux Suede Dress, $22.90 at Zara
No closet is complete without at least one black shift dress, like this.
61. Needle & Thread Embroidered Tulle Gown, $340 at ASOS
So incredibly pretty that even if occasions for re-wear aren’t apparent, you’ll surely find some.
62. Flounce London Sequin Mini Dress, $67 at ASOS
The most party-worthy way to sport polka dots.
63. Octavia Halter Jumpsuit, $188 at Anthropologie
64. Snake Print Jacquard Midi Dress, $95 at Topshop
Comfy and sleek, because there’s no better balance to strike when it comes to party looks.
65. Lace Long-Sleeve Midi Pencil Dress, $119 at ASOS
Another pick straight from my wishlist. Perfect for wedding wear and date nights, alike.
66. Cleobella Amarylis Embroidered Maxi Dress, $183.50 at ASOS
Sweet and sophisticated without feeling ill-fit for formal wear.
67. Saloni Loretta Jumpsuit, $238 at Shopbop
Undoubtedly the most luxe jumpsuit on this list.
68. Line & Dot Cherie Wrap Dress, $106 at Shopbop
As bright and fun as you are—and super easy to dress down.
69. ML Monique Lhuillier Eva Lace Dress, $495 at Anthropologie
It never hurts to have one figure-hugging, structured dress in your closet.
70. The Fifth Label Relativity Long-Sleeve Dress, $88 at Shopbop
A no-fail party dress you can almost definitely repurpose for workplace wear.
71. WAYF Arden Lace-Up Maxi Dress, $64 at Shopbop
Equal parts cute and subtly sexy—and something you’ll find plenty of opportunities to re-wear.
72. Curve Kimono Midi Pencil Dress, $119 at ASOS
Chic AF—and an out-of-the-box (but endlessly stylish) pick for prom.
73. Needle & Thread Embroidered Lace Maxi Dress, $562 at ASOS
This is so stunning you literally won’t even care if you never wear it again.
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