Where to buy fancy formal dresses

The style stakes are high and let’s be honest, it’s a big deal. Here are the retailers that have you covered when it comes to buying formal dresses online.

So you’ve received an invitation in the mail or there’s a special occasion highlighted in your diary. You're attending an event that’s dress-code labelled formal wear and - alarm bells sound - you have nothing to wear. Forget what’s already in your wardrobe, you need something new and you want to look hot. We get it. This is your chance to make a statement in a floor-length evening gown or a fancy cocktail dress, striking colours and exquisite fabrics.

Treat this as your guide to shopping for formal wear dresses that are guaranteed to turn heads when you swan into the room.

Are you looking for dresses to wear to a school formal or prom?

Find your perfect formal dress at ASOS: you will find plenty of cheap and cheerful options that will make you the star of the room.

Attracting shoppers globally, ASOS is the ultimate fashion destination for the twenty-something fashion addict looking for new threads on the reg. The brand offers a mix of house labels, exclusive styles and hot brands.

  • 10% student discount
  • Free shipping on orders over $40
  • Returns accepted within 28 days of receiving your order

Go to ASOS website View coupon codes for ASOS

Formal dresses are ready to shop at THE ICONIC from local and international labels, including exclusive styles you can’t buy anywhere else.

Aussie favourite THE ICONIC has a mix of Australian and international labels ready for you to shop. Launching in late 2011 the brand is your answer to last-minute emergency outfit shopping as well as a guaranteed best-dressed status.

  • Free returns for 100 days
  • Free delivery on orders over $50
  • 3 hour delivery in Sydney metro $12.95

Go to THE ICONIC website View coupon codes for THE ICONIC

3. David Jones
David Jones is your go-to destination when it comes to investing in a fancy designer formal dress. You'll find evening gowns and striking cocktail styles.

The iconic Aussie retail king stocks almost everything under the sun. The brand has a reputation for good customer service, quality products and is not a budget store.

  • Click & Collect available
  • Returns accepted in-store or online
  • Same-day shipping available (Sydney only)
  • Quality guarantee

Go to David Jones website View coupon codes for David Jones

4. Missguided
Looking for something on a budget? Find cheap formal dresses by Missguided, the brand has affordable options you can shop right now.

A bold brand designed for the fashion-obsessed girl, online retailer Missguided pump out collections inspired by celebrity, social media, bloggers and street style.

  • Free delivery on orders over $80
  • Returns accepted within 14 days of delivery
  • 20% discount for students

Go to Missguided website View coupon codes for Missguided

5. Showpo
The online store stocking the hottest range of formal dresses for women looking to make a statement and stick to a budget.

Get bang for your buck when you shop with Showpo. Scroll through the brand's Instagram feed for inspiration and shop the looks you love online.

  • Free express shipping on orders over $50
  • Exchanges accepted within 14 days of receiving your order

Go to Showpo website View coupon codes for Showpo

6. Free People
A range of unique bohemian dresses you can wear to formal occasions that are sure to impress. Enough said.

American brand Free People is made for the boho-inspired woman; floaty dresses, layers and lace are what you can expect to find at this fashion store.

  • Free standard shipping on orders over US $100
  • Gift wrapping available
  • Returns are accepted

Go to Free People website View coupon codes for Free People

BNKR are bound to have an abundance of elegant dresses perfect to wear to any formal occasion.

You’ll have the most envious outfit when you shop with Adelaide-based retailer BNKR. Stocking C/meo Collective, Finders Keepers, Keepsake, The Fifth and TY-LR, this is a fashion girl's dream store.

  • Chat with a personal stylist online
  • Take 15% off your first order
  • Free express shipping on orders over $39

Go to BNKR website View coupon codes for BNKR

8. Forever New
Your girly go-to, Forever New knows how to do formal attire like no one else without breaking the bank.

Melbourne-born brand Forever New celebrates the feminine woman with signature fashion pieces and limited collections. Shop the latest Kylie and Kendall collection here.

  • Free delivery on orders over $50
  • 10% discount for students
  • Returns accepted within 14 days of delivery

Go to Forever New website View coupon codes for Forever New

9. Fame & Partners
Fame and Partners is making all of your formal dress dreams come true.

The brand pride itself on high quality, bespoke dress making services that cut out traditional costs. You will find current trends straight off the runway that can be customised to make it your own.

  • Receive 25% off your first purchase when you subscribe to the newsletter
  • Express dress making available within 48 hours for $29
  • Hem length services available
  • Standard shipping within 7-10 business days
  • Returns are accepted within 30 days from date of purchase

Go to Fame & Partners website View coupon codes for Fame & Partners

Formal dresses to shop right now:

Formal dresses with sleeves

Elegant and sophisticated, an evening gown with long sleeves will keep you warm on cooler nights or during occasions held outdoors. Try a formal dress with lace long sleeves for added chic-style. Stores like ASOS and THE ICONIC have a wide variety of brands where you will find sleeves to suit your taste.

Needle & Thread Backless Sheer Sleeve Dress $422.00

Formal dresses cheap

Looking for a formal dress on the cheap that won't break your budget? Showpo and Missguided are known for consistently offering affordable clothing, you'll find on-trend fast fashion perfect for your next formal event.

Do It Any Way multiway maxi dress pink $37.80
Winding Down maxi dress in navy $79
Do Me Any Way multiway slinky dress $37.50

Formal dresses black

Finding a black formal dress is a breeze. From THE ICONIC to ASOS, Fame & Partners and Missguided, you're bound the find the LBD (read: long black dress) of your dreams. A black dress is anything but plain, shine bright with embellishment, shoulder baring styles or unique cut-outs for a twist on the classics.

Camilla & Marc Endemic Dress $479.20
RED CARPET Delicate Beaded Keyhole Dress $317.00
Mirror Bodice Maxi Dress $211.00

Formal dresses lace

Flattering and fashion-forward, shopping for lace formal dresses is made easy with brands like Fame & Partners who create custom made dresses and product pieces straight from runway trends. Free People and Forever New typically use lace throughout the current collections.

Grace & Hart Adele Gown $450
Jetset Diaries Yasmine Maxi Dress $188.30

Your quick guide to retailers offering free delivery:

Most of the retailers mentioned above offer free shipping when you spend over a certain amount. It doesn’t get much better than that! Shop for your formal dresses online with ease.

ASOS - Orders over $40

Fame and Partners - Free

THE ICONIC - Orders over $50

BNKR - Express shipping on orders over $39

Showpo - Express shipping on orders over $50

Beginning Boutique - Free express shipping on orders over $50

Forever New - Orders over $50

Surfstitch - Orders over $25

Sabo Skirt - Orders over $150

Princess Polly - Express shipping on orders over $50

New Look - Orders £55

Topshop - Orders over £100

City Beach - Orders over $75

Missguided - Orders over $80

Start your shopping spree with one of the codes below:

10% off student discount

Students can get 10% off any purchase at ASOS.

FREE shipping on orders over $50

Enjoy FREE shipping when you spend $50 or more at THE ICONIC. T&Cs apply.

10% off student discount

Students can get 10% off any purchase at ASOS.

Up to 70% off sale

Get up to 70% off with the fInal clearance at ASOS

FREE shipping on orders over $50

Enjoy FREE shipping when you spend $50 or more at THE ICONIC. T&Cs apply.

Up to 60% off sale

Get up to 60% off sale items at THE ICONIC. While stocks last. T&Cs apply.

FREE express shipping on orders $79+

Get FREE delivery to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore on orders $79+ at BNKR. T&Cs apply.

Save $100 when you spend $500

Enter the coupon code at checkout to take $100 off on orders $500+. Conditions apply.

FREE shipping on orders over $50

Receive FREE shipping on orders over $50 at Showpo. T&Cs apply.

Free shipping on orders over $75+

Get free shipping on orders over $75+ at Beginning Boutique.Conditions Apply

FREE gift on orders of $40 or more

Get a free gift when you spend $40 or more. Choices available.

FREE New Zealand express shipping orders over $80

Get FREE New Zealand express shipping on orders over $80 to New Zealand at Princess Polly. Receive item in 1-2 days.

Up to 70% off sale

Get up to 70% off at the Princess Polly Boxing Day sale. Sale is still running but get in quick before the best pieces sell out.

Get $20 off on your birthday

Subscribe to Polly Mail and when your birthday comes around you'll receive $20 to spend at Princess Polly. Conditions apply.

Weekly City Beach 2 for 1 deals

See if you can get a discount with City Beach by checking this deals section of the site. All the weekly deals are posted here.

Free gift with your purchase

Get a free gift with your purchase at City Beach.

Tops from $9

Save big when you shop for tops from $9 at Missguided.

Denim from $30

Shop for denim from $30 at Missguided.

FREE standard shipping on orders over $80

Receive FREE standard shipping on orders over $80 at Missguided. For orders under $80, standard shipping costs $4.95 and express shipping costs $9.95.

40% off student discount

Get 40% off student discount at Missguided. Excludes sale items.

Dresses $32 and under

Shop for elegant dresses for just $32 or less.

Ladies, start shopping for your prom dresses, stat.

Doone Roisin

Doone Roisin is the social media butterfly and a Contributing Fashion Editor at finder.com.au. She's an online shopping enthusiast ready to show you what to buy and how to wear it, the best sales around town and insider tips to make note of.

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