Without aging myself too much, I will admit that my high school grad was several years ago for me. However, I still remember the thrill of finding my grad dress. I was beyond excited when I laid eyes on the icy blue floor length number (which to this day still hangs in my closet!). As a self-proclaimed girly girl who wears dresses the majority of the year, I delight in an occasion such as grad. Whether you loathe or revel in grad festivities, one thing’s for certain, it’s a rite of passage for getting through high school.
With grad season coming straight up, it’s time to start hitting the pavement and finding the dress. This is the dress you’ll be wearing when saying goodbye to friends and just downright having a kick ass time to celebrate the end of your high school life. The dress has gotta be good.
Check out some of the best places to shop for grad dresses in Vancouver and Toronto, along with some tips and top picks to get you started. Happy graduation, class of 2015!
Best places to shop for grad dresses
BCBG – BCBG is a go-to for evening and cocktail dresses. The quality is solid and I love how a lot of their dresses have built-in padding or boning to give dresses structure and support. Stores nationwide. See the BCBG store locator for the store nearest you.
Forever New – This fashion retailer from Oz has some of the prettiest and girly dresses around. If you delight in pink and sparkles, you’ll want to hit this place up. Pacific Centre Mall in Vancouver and Richmond Centre Mall in Richmond, B.C.
Topshop – Don’t forget our favourite UK retailer for some of the sparkliest dresses around. Inside The Bay at Vancouver’s downtown location and Yorkdale and Queen St in Toronto.
The Bay – While you’re in The Bay, don’t forget to check out The Room and their contemporary women’s section. It’s gotten a whole lot more chic in the last few years and you will find a solid selection of glam-worthy dresses.
Champagne & Lace – Hundreds of prom gowns to choose from, this shop has one of the best selections in the lower mainland. 33811 S. Fraser Way, Abbotsford, B.C.
Poor Little Rich Girl – Dresses are their specialty and if you’re looking for glam, you’ll feel right at home here. 2094 Yonge Street, Toronto.
Bryan’s Bride – If you want your grad dress to be long, sweeping and downright fabulous, you will find it at Bryan’s Bride. 4567 Lougheed Hwy, Burnaby (inside Brentwood Town Centre).
Tiffany’s Bridal – Look for red carpet worthy dresses here. They’re not messing around. 3536 E. Hastings St, Vancouver.
After Five – Proudly Canadian, it’s one of Canada’s largest stores for grad dresses. After Five stays true to connecting fabulous women with fabulous dresses. If you don’t live near Oakridge Center, you can also order online. Shipping is free and they seem pretty understanding about returns as well. 650 W. 41s St., Vancouver (inside Oakridge Centre Mall).
Tips for grad dress shopping…
- Do you research. Scour Pinterest or the Internet in general to see what grad dress styles you like. Short? Long? Embellished or minimalist? This will help you shop with focus and hone in on your dream dress more quickly.
- Debating between a short or floor-length gown? While easier to move and dance around in a short cocktail dress, it’s not as formal as its floor length counterpart. My recommendation? Go for the long dress. It may be one of the few times you get to wear a floor-sweeping gown, so you gotta just go for the gold. And, if your grad is held at a hotel, you’ll want to get all decked out. Finally, don’t worry, one one really trips on stage.
- When shopping for grad dresses, you’ll be in and out of changing rooms. A lot. Wear clothing that you can easily get in and out of. Button-up shirts, a skirt or leggings are your friends.
- Make an effort with your hair and makeup so you get a sense of how you’ll look the night of. It’s hard to get the full effect when your face is bare and your hair is disheveled while trying on gorgeous gowns.
- If you’re planning to wear shoes or accessories you already own, bring them with you to make sure things match or look good paired together.
- Ask the store if they will register your dress, your name and high school. Some stores will do this so that girls can avoid having the same dress (and all the drama that comes with it) as another girl.
- On a budget? Mainstream retailers at your local mall will have more cost effective dresses. The more specialty you get, the more expensive the dresses will be. Don’t forget to check out consignment shops for evening gowns. They’re often in great shape since they’re not something that’s worn everyday.
Ready to get your grad dress shopping on? Here are my top picks.
Brandy embellished detail wrap dress, approx $189.99 CAD, Forever New
TOPSHOP Origami Rose Bandeau Dress, $150 CAD, The Bay
Jay Godfrey Hart Gown, $575 CAD, Poor Little Rich Girl
JS Collection Style 262903, $299 CAD, Poor Little Rich Girl
La Femme – Style 18918, $356.50, Poor Little Rich Girl
Kristine One-shoulder peplum gown, $423 CAD, BCBG
Patricia Silk One-Shoulder Gown, $249 CAD, BCBG