Formal Dresses

Straps Sleeves

Find Your Favorite Formal Evening Dresses and Gowns

You know those elegant events that come with a formal dress code? Well, finding the right formal dress is as simple as heading to David’s Bridal! From black tie galas to formal weddings to prom, there’s a formal dress out there to suit you and the occasion perfectly. Formal dresses can take the form of sweeping ball gowns or slinky black sheath dresses; they can transcend the boundaries of fun and sophistication.

At David’s Bridal, we offer more than 400 formal dresses for your online shopping convenience. Plus, our wide range of options presents a variety of colors, silhouettes, sizes, and fabrics. Using our search filters, you can virtually tailor your shopping experience to view the looks that feel best to you. Then when you meet your match, you can place your order and select the low-cost or free shipping option to get your outfit delivered to your door.

Discover formal dresses for every occasion at David's Bridal

As you make connections at a benefit gala or dance the night away at a charity ball, David’s Bridal offers formal dresses for every event. Here are some of our favorite styles you can shop on our site:

  • Cocktail dresses. For cocktail parties or cocktail-dress-themed events, a flirty and flowing cocktail dress can make you look polished and full of life.
  • Colorful ensembles. Formal events are associated with dark colors, but black-tie doesn’t always mean a black dress. If the moment calls for it, you can look lovely in olive green or sapphire blue as you embrace the jewel-tone hue.
  • Lace numbers. The material of lace is divinely feminine and lends itself beautifully to the formalwear category. From loose to form-fitting, the style is up to you.
  • Long-sleeve gowns. When you want head-to-toe glamor, a long-sleeved gown that flatters your figure with a few bejeweled accents can do just the trick.
  • Elevated jumpsuits. Formal isn’t synonymous with formal dresses for women; you can narrow your search to an elegant jumpsuit to fit the theme and exude confidence in a figure-flattering and flared garment.

What does formal attire mean?

With the many dress code variations like casual, business casual, semi-formal, and formal, it’s easy for anyone to get confused. But formal attire is about debuting your fanciest duds. Traditionally, this means a gown that’s polished and put together. However, to fit in with the event, you must consider the occasion and the venue.

A ball gown might be the perfect choice for that banquet on your calendar, but a cocktail dress might be a better selection for a black-tie wedding. You can go for shorter garments, depending on the formal occasion, but when in doubt, check with fellow attendees or strike a balance with a high-low hemline.

Which events are best for a formal dress?

Some common events that require this elevated style of dressing are proms, galas, banquets, balls, weddings, ceremonies, and certain professional events. These occasions often call for dress shopping or planning a poised outfit.

How to measure yourself for a formal dress

It’s great when shopping for any dress (especially formal dresses) to know your dress size. To measure yourself, you’ll need a flexible measuring tape, and you should wear the undergarments you plan to wear with the dress. You’ll then proceed to measure your bust, waist, and hips. To do this, you’ll measure the fullest part of your bust, the smallest part of your waist, and the widest part of your hips.

You’ll then measure yourself from your collarbone to the floor for the dress length. It helps to know your height and the height you’ll be in the shoes of your choice. At David’s Bridal, you can compare your measurements to the sizing charts online to find your size. We offer a range of dress sizes from 0 to 30W and additional specialty sizes for juniors and misses (girls).

David’s Bridal formal dress shipping options

All of our formal dresses can ship standard, expedited, and express to make sure your outfit arrives with plenty of time before the main event. For orders more than $175, you have the option to select free standard shipping throughout the U.S. (except Alaska and Hawaii). Head to the David’s Bridal Order FAQ page to learn more.


Formal dress tips and FAQs

Can formal dress be short? Formal dresses are typically long in length, but there are a few exceptions. Depending on the special occasion and dress code, midi or knee-length dresses can be appropriate. If you love the ease and comfort of short styles, discover gorgeous jumpsuits and two-piece sets from David’s Bridal.
What are evening dresses called? Evening dresses refer to a wide range of special occasion wear, from cocktail dresses to ball gowns. Whether the dress code is beachy or black tie, David’s Bridal offers a selection of stunning dresses to showcase your individual style and beauty.
Is a formal dress long? While most evening and formal dresses tend to be long, when attending weddings with formal or semi formal dress codes, you can explore other silhouette options. A midi dress, maxi, and even fun jumpsuit are all appropriate.
Can you wear a long dress to a cocktail party? Long dresses can absolutely be worn to a cocktail party if styled correctly. Maxis and midis are popular favorites among cocktail party guests for their comfortability and on-trend appearance. A general rule of thumb is “you can never be overdressed”, although, we vote to save the ball gowns for an occasion with a formal dress code!
How can I accessorize my formal dress? When preparing your formal ensemble, the dress should take center stage, and then all of your accessories can act as background singers. It’s their job to highlight the piece’s beauty – rather than distract from it. You can wear stunning understated jewelry in silver or gold and neutral-colored shoes or shoes with a pop of color if the ensemble favors a neutral hue.
How should I wear my hair? If you have a high neckline, an elegant updo can better accentuate the top of your dress, elongating your neck area. If you’re wearing a sleeveless or cap-sleeve dress, pair the outfit with loose curls. It’s a good idea to know the dress before you know your hairstyle or base the dress choice around your dream hairdo.
Can I wear a jacket with my dress? For the colder months or outdoor occasions with a chill in the air, you can cover up with a chic jacket. Depending on the temperature, you can drape an elegant shawl over your shoulders, a blazer, or a stylish winter coat.