The 16 Best Places to Buy Dresses Online and In Person (2024)

Finding the Best Places to Buy Dresses

It happens every season: You think you already have the right dress for that occasion in two weeks, then realize you need something new. When this happens, it’s helpful to have trusted stores in mind before doing any shopping. Otherwise, you may make a purchase that becomes a headache — you didn’t realize that the store has a poor refund policy, for example, or that your chosen dress is see-through.

You may already have a few favorite brands in your back pocket (most of us do!), but it’s always helpful to expand your repertoire. That way, you’ll find more interesting styles that excite you and add flare to your closet when you need it the most. So, how do you know what makes for a good store? Check out the factors you ought to consider before trusting a brand with your hard-earned cash.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Places to Buy Dresses

Price

How much are you willing to spend on your dress? Generally, the baseline for a high quality piece is at least $30, and you’re more likely to spend between $50 and $90 for a dress you’ll enjoy. If you prioritize high quality fabrics like silk instead of satin, or you want to shop at stores that focus on sustainability and fair labor, you’re more likely to spend between $100 and $200 on every dress you purchase.

Sustainability

Though a company’s carbon footprint is easy to forget when you’re shopping for cute pieces, the environmental problems associated with fast fashion will continue to get worse. Thus, it’s important to shop sustainably when it’s available and makes sense financially. Sustainable brands we love include Quince and Reformation.

Return/Exchange Policy

It’s far too easy to purchase a dress without thinking about the refund or exchange policy, which can unfortunately lead to headaches and money spent beyond your initial budget. Fortunately, all the brands we recommend are transparent about their refund and exchange policies, though some are better than others. The best refund policies we’ve come across have been those of Quince and Revolve.

Sizing

Sizing inclusivity is an extremely important factor if you need petite or tall-length dresses, or if you’re a size above XL. While many brands offer at least a few petite or tall-length dresses, you often have to hunt for those styles. Unfortunately, finding inclusive sizing is an even bigger ordeal — most brands don’t offer sizes above XL. We’ve discovered that some of the best brands for inclusive sizing include Asos and Curve Girl.

Style

What’s the occasion? While many stores sell dresses that cater to a variety of events, from co*cktail to business, others specialize in just one or two styles. Here’s a quick “cheat sheet” to get you started: The best stores for weddings include Lulus and Baltic Born, and the best brands for work dresses include Love, Bonito and Ann Taylor. For co*cktail attire, we love Beginning Boutique and ASTR the Label, and for prom, Windsor is our pick.

What Are the Different Types of Places to Buy Dresses?

Online

Gone are the days when you’d spend hours at the mall shopping at every department store to find the right dress. Most dress stores are online, so you can find your favorite styles from the comfort of your own home. Online-only stores have a few downsides, though: You can’t try on items before making a purchase, and you may have to pay for shipping. The return policies for online stores also tend to be stricter than those of brick and mortar stores, though some online brands have excellent return and exchange policies.

Online and In Person

To keep up with the online industry, every department store has made the transition to at least some online shopping. (That includes brands like JCPenney, Ann Taylor and Abercrombie & Fitch.) The benefit is that you can create a hybrid shopping experience: You can purchase an item online, try it out that same day, and return it in-person if you want to expedite the returns process. The downside of these hybrid stores? Their online and in-person options are often different — so if you plan to visit a store and try on a bunch of dresses you saw online, you may have a hard time finding all those items on the rack.

In Person

Every major retailer in the US has an online website, so clothing stores that are in-person only are far and few between. If you want the experience of shopping at an in-person only store, your best bet is to try a consignment or thrift shop or a local boutique. You may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s a great way to support small businesses.

The 16 Best Places to Buy Dresses Online and In Person (2024)
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