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Special occasions are very exciting, and finding the perfect formal dress to wear to them can be just as much fun as the occasion itself! Formal dresses are commonly long, eye-catching dresses that are several steps above everyday attire. 

Whether your formal dress has intricate details, like beading, or the design is more minimalist, it’s sure to help you make an entrance! 

Finding the Perfect Formal Dress

A formal dress code tends to leave room for interpretation, so there’s no lack of variety when it comes to silhouettes, colors, and other details!

If there are parameters for your formal look (a color scheme you’re expected to match, or a sleeve requirement), make sure you take note of that to help keep your search to dresses that work. If your options are open, it can be helpful to think about the outfits and dresses you wear that make you feel powerful and try to recreate that feeling when you’re in the fitting room. 

Once you’re ready to start shopping for your formal dress, there are several items to keep in mind. 

  • Occasion: Since a formal dress code can be very broad, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re looking for the perfect formal dress is the occasion. For instance, a wedding and prom are both formal occasions, but you likely wouldn’t wear a ballgown to your cousin’s wedding!
  • Silhouette: Formal dresses tend to have more variety in silhouette than other categories of dresses. The best dress silhouette is going to be one suited for the occasion that you feel confident in, so do some research on silhouettes that accentuate your features. 
  • Color: When choosing a formal dress color, it’s important to keep your favorites in mind, regardless of what’s trending. You’ll want a dress in a color that you feel confident in and that also compliments your features. Luckily, formal dresses come in every color of the rainbow! 
  • Material: Material, like silhouette, will likely be informed by the event that you’re wearing your formal dress to, as well as what time of year it is. Rayon, velvet, and silk tend to be the most popular material choices, but make sure you keep the calendar and the weather in mind. 

There are many different styles and cuts of formal dresses; let’s explore the top trends for this year! 

5 Formal Dress Trends for 2023 

Fitted Formal Dresses 

Like their name suggests, fitted formal dresses are form-fitting, and they tend to be long to better hug your whole figure. These dresses are the most versatile style of formal dress, as their designs can range from playful enough to wear on a night out to elegant enough to don at a black-tie affair. 

Fitted formal dresses also tend to give you the most options for accessorizing; many will work with long pendants just as well as shorter necklaces, depending on how detailed the dress is.  

Ball Gown Formal Dresses 

Ball gown dresses are usually what comes to mind when we think of the phrase “princess dress.” Ball gowns are typically tight on the bodice and then flare out dramatically at the hips, making you turn heads whenever you enter the room. Accessories should be kept fairly minimal, as they can easily appear like they’re trying to “compete” with the dress, but you don’t have to stray from them completely. 

Because these dresses are a more dramatic silhouette choice, the opportunity to wear a ball gown tends to be rare–you’ll want to save ball gowns for prom and other white-tie events. 

Mermaid Formal Dresses

Mermaid dresses are known for being figure-hugging except where they flare at the knees, creating a mermaid fin silhouette. Mermaid dresses are great for accentuating your curves and capturing some of the drama found in princess dresses, making them an excellent middle ground between a totally fitted dress and a ball gown. 

The mermaid silhouette is another extremely versatile option for formal events, as you can find dresses that are more dramatic just as easily as you can find mermaid dresses that are more simplistic and elegant. Try an updo hairstyle for an ultra-feminine look! 

2-Piece Formal Sets 

2-piece formal sets are great options for formal events that have a bit of a playful atmosphere to them, like a spring dance or a celebration taking place outside during the day. 2-piece sets typically consist of a cropped top and a high-waisted bottom portion that can come in all sorts of different styles, ranging from flowing maxi skirts to formal shorts. 

For the most part, you can expect to show a bit of skin where the top ends and the bottom portion begins. 

Short Formal Dresses

Short formal dresses are phenomenal for a formal dress code that still has a playful atmosphere. These dresses are especially great choices for events with lots of dancing, because they give you more room to move. 

Short formal dresses can come in a variety of silhouettes, though you can expect the skirt to be a little higher than your knees. The event is something to keep at the forefront of your mind when you’re looking at short formal dresses, though, as short dresses can easily stray into semi-formal territory. 

Find the Perfect Formal Dress for You

As you choose your perfect formal dress, remember that the most important aspect is that you love it, and you’re excited about wearing it! Special occasions are made all the more special by wearing the dress of your dreams!