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Which winter formal dress is best?

Whether this year’s winter formal is your first school event, or you’ve never missed an opportunity to get dressed up and hit the dance floor with your classmates, it’s crucial to get a winter formal dress that makes you look and feel your best. 

Some schools opt for informal attire, while others enforce a black-tie dress code. Nevertheless, the right dress should be easy to move around in and flatter your figure. 

The Bonnie Shop Long Evening Dress is a top pick because it’s universally flattering and comfortable and has pockets.

What to know before you buy a winter formal dress

What is a winter formal dress?

A winter formal dress is typically a gown that fits your school’s dress code and is appropriate for a black-tie event. Before shopping for your attire, check your school’s general dress code and the apparel guidelines for the event. It would be a shame to get something you can’t wear.

Aside from that, consider the theme, as many school dances have one. While you do not need to go overboard, incorporating small motif details, such as the school dance color palette, is considerate to the hosts.

Winter formal dress types

There are six silhouettes to consider for your winter formal dress:

  • A-line: This shape is fitted at your top and gently flares from your hip.
  • Ball gown: This cut is tight on your bust and waist, then the skirt dramatically flares just above your hips. 
  • Sheath: This silhouette is form-fitting from top to bottom. 
  • Mermaid: This shape hugs your body from your top to mid-thigh, then flares from your thigh to the ground. 
  • Empire waist: This style fits tightly at your bustline, then gently flares, skimming the rest of your body to the ground. 
  • Shift: This cut is loose from top to bottom. It can be belted if you choose to define your waist, but you do not have to.

Create an adaptable look

A long sleeve gown and stilettos might look fantastic in photos, but once you start dancing in a room packed with warm bodies, you’re apt to regret both. 

Consider balancing your overall aesthetic with minor adjustments that can help you enjoy your evening. There are five adaptions to consider:

  • Platform heels: If you want your shoes to give you some height, a platform will do that. They’ll also decrease the sole’s slope and take pressure off your toes.
  • Shoe inserts: Add stick-on inserts to the sole and heel of your shoes to avoid cuts and blisters for maximum comfort.  
  • Gown hooks: If you have a floor-length dress, especially with a train, consider adding interior snaps or a hook and eye to the skirt. Place one on the interior hem, then another in a higher interior section of the skirt. Once the dancing begins, you can attach the hem to the internal skirt so you don’t trip over your dress all night.
  • Short sleeves: Consider opting for shorter sleeve styles, so you don’t overheat on the dance floor. 
  • Matching cardigan or shawl: Since you’re attending a winter formal, it’s likely cold out and you might need something to warm up. An inexpensive cardigan or shawl can keep you warm.

What to look for in a quality winter formal dress

A built-in bra with boning

A dress with interior boning and a built-in bra saves you from buying a corset, which can sometimes cost as much as the dress. It can also help you achieve the structured fit typically associated with formal gowns.

A custom fit

The costs associated with attending a formal event can add up quickly, and alterations can get expensive. So when you buy a gown from a highly rated manufacturer willing to customize your dress, you can save a lot of money and end up with a much better dress. However, tailoring can take time, so ensure you order it as early as possible.


Pockets, of course, are a priority for dresses these days. While you might not find them on a dress with a figure-hugging silhouette, anything with a fuller skirt is fair game for pockets.  

How much you can expect to spend on a winter formal dress

Depending on the style, material and brand, you can find a gorgeous dress for $50-$100. 

Winter formal dress FAQ

What should you do if you get deodorant on your dress?

A. Do not reach for soap and water – it should come right off with a bit of friction. Take a dryer sheet or an interior portion of the dress and rub it against the blemish. 

Can you wear a bra with a backless dress?

A. While manufacturers make bras for nearly every neckline, the backs have a limit. However, products such as stick-on bras and tape are simple and affordable alternatives.

What’s the best winter formal dress to buy?

Top winter formal dress

Best Bonnie Shop Long Evening Dress

Bonnie Shop Long Evening Dress

What you need to know: You can get this gown pre-made or custom-made at no additional cost.

What you’ll love: This is a floor-length satin dress with a V-neck and spaghetti straps. It has an A-line silhouette, interior boning, tapered waist and a built-in bra. It also has pockets and comes in sizes 2-26.

What you should consider: Some reviewers said this dress fit a little small and suggested sizing up.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top winter formal dress for the money

Best Sukleet Womens Spaghetti Strap Short A-line Satin

Sukleet Women’s Spaghetti Strap Short A-line Satin

What you need to know: It is a universally flattering dress with a comfortable fit. 

What you’ll love: This is a knee-length A-line dress with a satin finish and pockets at the hips. It has a built-in bra with boning at the waist and a lace-up back for a more custom fit. It comes in 27 colors, sizes 0-22.

What you should consider: Some people reported that they needed to sew a hook and eye at the top of the zipper to keep it from unzipping. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Bangunlah Long Satin Gowns With Slit Up The Leg

Bangunlah Long Satin Gowns With Slit 

What you need to know: This is an ultra-glam dress that shows off your curves.

What you’ll love: This off-the-shoulder gown is floor-length with a plunging neckline. It has detailed beading on the chest with a lace-up back and a long train with a high slit at the thigh. It comes in sizes 2-26, and you can send your measurements for a custom fit.

What you should consider: Some reviewers said the dress ran a bit small for them.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ella Scott writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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