You could be a click away from having an epic prom dress, or an epic fail. Read these expert tips so you don’t get duped by a TGTBT deal for prom—then scroll through for some of the Internet’s finest examples of online dress shopping gone wrong.

Numbers Game

Even the most savvy shopper knows that sizing varies greatly from label to label. With *literally* zero consistency between brands the onus is on you to equip yourself with the figures of your figure. “Know your accurate measurements! I cannot stress this enough,” says designer and Etsy seller Jordan de Ruiter, “I have a lot of clients that are so used to a certain label size from a chain retailer that they automatically choose the size they think they are or don’t like their measurements so send inaccurate ones.”

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Yas kween, your prom style will be unique…but it’s unlikely you’re the first person to ever wear whatever dress has caught your eye. And that’s a good thing! Tap into that collective experience and use it to your advantage. “When shopping online, always read the reviews and the details provided about how each dress fits. Reading what other clients have said about the dress will give you a much better idea of the fit and style from those that have purchased or rented the item in question,” says Callie Wexler, a stylist at dress rental site RentFrockRepeat.

Talk It Out

Buying a dress based off a photo can be daunting. But the beauty of the online world is that it can connect you to others who have the info you’re seeking—and prom shopping should be no exception. “Try to purchase from a company that will communicate with you! If you have a question about fit, fabric or anything send them a message. Most larger companies will have a stylist get back to you, and indie designers like myself will get back to you personally and can even adjust the fit to your specifications,” says de Ruiter.

Related: 21 Pretty Prom Hairstyles to Copy from the Runway

Not-So-Risky Business

We’ve all watched enough red carpets to know that it’s a fine line between statement-making hit and fashion tragedy. “While prom dresses are a great way to branch out and try something new, you want to make sure you feel beautiful and comfortable. If there are certain styles or colours you absolutely never wear you may feel a little self-conscious [in them] during prom,” says de Ruiter.

The Shape of Things

Model body. Flawless makeup. Perfect lighting. A lot goes into creating a jaw-dropping online image designed to sell you a dress. Your job is to decipher if said dress will work for you IRL. “If you aren’t sure how to work with your body type or not even sure what your body type is, again, engage with a company that offers you styling services so that you end up with the right choice for you.” And remember that even the slayiest of dresses may demand back-up support. “Shapewear is not about squeezing your body in to make you looks skinner, it is to smooth the lines out and allow the dress to flow,” says Wexler.

Plan Ahead

Don’t procrastinate. “I definitely recommend leaving enough time between receiving your dress and the night of your prom to ensure time for minor alterations if they need to happen,” says de Ruiter.” A lot of dresses are made with generic measurements and you may be between sizes. Typically, small alterations won’t break the bank and if you are purchasing from a larger dress company rather than a small, made-to-order one, it’s a good idea.”

Scroll through for side-by-sides of the most disappointing online dress shopping experiences the Internet has to offer.


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Related:

Graduating This Year? Peep 2018’s Top Prom Corsage Trends
23 Pairs of Fancy Flats You Can Totally Wear to Prom
Yes, You Can Wear Pants to Prom—In Fact, We Encourage It

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