Formal Wear: Part Two

Yesterday we talked about the importance of dressing modestly all the time, including formal occasions. Today we’re going to give a few shopping tips and offer suggestions about where to shop.

Shopping basics

www.modestbydesign.comHave a set budget in mind and stick to it. Maybe you found the perfect dress for your event – but it’s $300. Put it back! Look online to see if you can find a similar style (or even the same dress!) for a lower price. Look on eBay, do a google product search for the item number – do anything but plunk down $300 for a dress you’ll only wear once (1 Timothy 2:9). You can find a dress you love for a much, much lower price. Even if your parents are paying for your dress, respect their money and the fact that they work hard for it. Take the time to find a good deal on a dress you can feel good about purchasing.

Shop the clearance racks. Many brides are choosing the color of bridesmaids’ dresses and allowing the bridesmaids to choose their own flattering style. Take advantage of this! You may be able to score a great dress at a low price by looking through the clearance racks first.

Shop consignment stores. If your formal outfit is for anything other than a bridesmaid dress, you can shop second-hand shops to find a great deal on a dress that’s only been worn once or twice.

Be careful with the accessories. Whatever you save on the dress can easily be offset in the accessories. Use a little creativity. Shops that specialize in formal wear generally charge a lot of money for their shoes, jewelry, etc. Look at Payless or a department store clearance section. Better yet, swap with a friend, or purchase neutral shoes and jewelry that you will be able to wear for your next formal occasion.

Know the return policies. If you are unsure of a dress, don’t think that you can just return it if you change your mind. Many stores don’t allow returns on formal wear. The better option would be to ask an employee to hold an item for you, and come back after you’ve looked at your other options. Especially be aware of a return policy on online dresses. Generally, even if a company allows returns, you will still have to pay shipping to return the item, and that cost can add up.

Consider re-selling. Instead of letting your used dresses hang in a closet to never be worn again, think about selling them to a consignment store, or on ebay, to make some money back before the dresses go out of style. That money can be used to help cover the cost of a new dress, it can be placed in a college fund, or donated to a worthy cause.

Where to shop

www.modestbydesign.comDavid’s Bridal has a few modest formal wear choices. Again, once you’re in the store, make sure to check the clearance racks! I once scored a bridesmaid’s dress for $60, and the only alteration it needed was a little hemming (which a local seamstress did for a fraction of the David’s Bridal cost).

Beautifully Modest is full of great formal wear dresses! Modest By Design also has a great, modest selection, and they aren’t just limited to formal wear. Their selection includes several casual dresses, some of which are perfect for church, graduation, summer group dates, or attending weddings. Both of these stores are a little pricey, so keep that in mind, and check to see if there’s a store near you that may be running a sale.

You can also do a google search for modest formal dresses, search on ebay, or check your yellow pages for local formal wear consignment shops.


Above all, we should want to glorify God with our lives (1 Peter 4:16), and that includes what we wear. More than fitting in, more than wearing the style everyone else is wearing, and more than wanting to attract attention at the events we attend, we need to remember that we are Christians first. We can look pretty without compromising our values. Most importantly, we want people to remember us by our kind words and pure heart, not by what we wore to a formal occasion. This year, dress to impress – Christ that is!

By Davonne Parks


  1. Davonne, This is a terrific article! It is wonderful to know there are other young ladies even in 2009 who are more concerned about being Christlike than to be like the crowd! Great job! Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Tara Jones says

    My daughter is looking for a dress to wear to a “prom-alternative” that our sister congregations are organizing. The dresses these days are so immodest. I think they see how much they can show and still get away with it. We taught our children early in their lives that the modern dance is pure lasciviousness, and it brings shame and reproach upon the Church. My daughter has taken a lot of persecution because of our choices. She certainly agrees with us and had to make a strong argument at school the other day for the Lord. Sometimes we feel we are the only ones left who care about modesty in our clothing as well as our actions. It is so good to know there are others of like minds willing to take that stand.

Speak Your Mind