Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

Rio Americano High School

The Mirada

The Pressure of Prom Dresses

Online dress shopping surges in popularity, but some stick to the traditional method
A sampling of Senior Prom dresses, from left to right: Delaney Orma’s, purchased online; Belen Fletcher’s, purchased secondhand online; Liv Richards’, purchased in-person; Chloe Bjorgum’s, purchased online.

Standing in the dressing room, senior Violet Knight models dresses for her mom and best friend Tiba. At the same time, senior Chloe Bjorgum is finding a ball dress from the comfort of her bed. 

Over the years, shopping for a school dance dress has been a paramount moment in a teenage girl’s life. Older generations see this ritual as a visit to a prom dress store. Younger generations are breaking this mold as online shopping rises in popularity.

A 2000 survey said that 46% of internet users had purchased something online, but only 48% of Americans were even internet users at the time. Today, more than 80% of the total population of the U.S. has bought something online.

This boom in online purchasing has added convenience to all aspects of shopping, including prom dresses. One senior, Delaney Orma, is choosing to take advantage of the ease of online shopping.

“I’ve been looking for my dress only online because there are so many more options,” Orma said. “I have access to dozens of stores and hundreds of dresses at once instead of spending hours looking at a couple of dresses in person.”

The versatility of online shopping provides much more flexibility and choice than brick-and-mortar stores do, which can provide more expression of personal style.

“The dresses you see at Haute House [a popular dress store] or the mall are pretty, but I think they feel a little overdone,” senior Chloe Bjorgum said. “Like, there’s nothing wrong with shopping there, but I would rather find something that is a little different. It’s senior ball. I want it to feel special.”

Another one of the major pros of shopping online is that there are so many more secondhand options.

Hunting for a cheap prom dress at a thrift store is very hit or miss, but using popular secondhand sites like Depop, Rent the Runway, or the RealReal gives a great selection of dresses at discounted prices.

“I found the perfect dress shopping online, but it was way too expensive and I didn’t want to pay for a dress I would only wear once,” senior Belen Fletcher said. “I was able to find the exact dress I wanted for a lot cheaper than its original price [on an online secondhand site].”

Despite all the pros of online shopping, many girls still choose to find their dream dress in person.

“I usually go with my mom and my best friend, Tiba Jumaili. We get dresses we think would look good, try them on, and rate them.” Knight said, “It’s an experience. You can hold onto the memories more than shopping online”

As well as the sentimental value, shopping in person has the benefit of professional help, and gives you the ability to make sure the dress is perfect for you before you buy it.

“I’ve tried buying dresses online in the past and I’ve never been happy with how they looked.” Senior Liv Richards said, “This year I went shopping in person and I found my dream dress, and I was able to make sure it fit me perfectly.”

Online dress shopping is definitely on the rise, but the positive aspects of in person shopping will make it a tradition for years to come. Ultimately, the most important part of the shopping experience is finding an outfit that will make you comfortable, and allow you to have the best dance experience possible.

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Mara Thomas, Staff Writer

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  • Grant EMay 19, 2024 at 11:56 PM

    As a man, I can’t relate to trying to find a correct prom dress, as I think its much easier for dudes to go out and rent a suit rather than girls trying to find the correct dress. With dudes, most suits are the same and even basic suits will look good no matter what. Although women have more pressure to have a unique design with a good-looking color. As you see in pictures, many of the guys look quite similar while the girls look completely different.

  • Bailey S.Apr 15, 2024 at 8:52 AM

    I definitely relate that it was difficult to decide whether to shop online and risk a dress not fitting the way I expected, or to shop in person and have more limited options. In general I prefer online shopping because there is greater variety and more options for cheaper products, but specifically in the case of dresses I prefer in person shopping because I think how the dress fits is the most important part to me.

  • YuriApr 14, 2024 at 10:00 PM

    While picking a prom outfit online gives you more options, going out and trying different stuff on gives you a better understanding of what actually fits you. There is definitely a lot of stress when it comes to picking the prom outfit but you got to make sure to take your time

  • simaApr 14, 2024 at 5:00 PM

    interesting and well-written! secondhand dresses are always the best.

  • Audrey HarringtonApr 12, 2024 at 2:47 PM

    I was very nervous for prom dress shopping because I didn’t want to end up with one that I didn’t like, but going with friends made a long, uncomfortable experience much more fun. I ended up finding a dress that I really liked but they didn’t have my size in stock so I ordered it online and it arrived a week before the dance.

  • Marina K.Apr 12, 2024 at 12:24 PM

    Prom dress shopping can be very challenging, but it can also be fun! Going with friends and trying on dresses together can make the stressful event of dress shopping a breeze. Looking online can also be another option but you lose the ability to try the dress on to make sure it fits properly. The prices of dresses are expensive too, considering that it will most likely only be worn once. Overall, the whole experience does have its pros and cons but can be enjoyable if you make it!

  • KatieApr 12, 2024 at 9:51 AM

    Great article! Shopping for prom dresses is definitely so stressful, I didn’t like any of the options I saw in stores or from popular websites so I bought mine off of Depop. Shopping online definitely has more unique options but I am always worried about how the clothing will fit!

  • MeganApr 12, 2024 at 8:32 AM

    Great job on this article! I never thought of buying secondhand for a prom dress.

  • Sadie FApr 11, 2024 at 10:45 PM

    Prom dress shopping is definitely a difficult process where if you go the “easy” route and purchase a dress online, you do not know how it will look on you compared to the model, but if you go in person you are limited to the stores availability. There seem to be many more options online, yet you have to wait for order processing and shipping times which adds stress to the whole experience.

  • ASApr 11, 2024 at 8:37 PM

    Shopping for prom dresses is the hardest thing that many girls have to start the hunt for months in advance. Popular website ‘Lucy in the Sky’ takes months to ship, but has thousands of beautiful dresses. Shopping in person is not much easier when the third store you’ve gone to is too expensive or doesn’t have the right style of dress. Buying online restricts you from trying on the dresses making it impossible to know if it looks good on your body. Prom dress shopping and all dance dress shopping will continue to be a difficult task.

  • juneApr 11, 2024 at 10:45 AM

    Shopping for prom dresses is definitely not easy. while online does offer more options and I think it’s a good way to look for dresses, I never know how it will fit.

  • Katie GhazanfariApr 10, 2024 at 2:18 PM

    I agree with the fact that online shopping is much easier to see more options at once, rather than going to a few stores and probably not seeing as many options. The convenience of online shopping is unmatched by any stores in person.

  • Harper GardnerApr 10, 2024 at 1:53 PM

    I never thought about prom as a stressful thing, and now that its a week away, I’ve never felt so much pressure about it. This article really paints it in an interesting light.

  • leaApr 10, 2024 at 11:10 AM

    I really like this article, good job!

  • Isabel AvilaApr 10, 2024 at 10:49 AM

    I love shopping in person for dresses, online while there are more options there is always the question of whether the dress will fit correctly or if it even has the look you want. Most of my friends bought their’s online but I just don’t trust it.

  • Mia GoldenApr 10, 2024 at 8:18 AM

    I think that the rise of online shopping for prom dresses is really interesting. It is very convenient to not need to rely on the physical inventory a store has, but I struggle to buy dresses without trying them on first. In general, I prefer to shop for my dresses in person.