Finding that pair of Manolo Mary-Janes. Or $100 Chanel bags at a sample sale. It's rumored to have occurred at some unspecified time at some unspecified place, but seems pretty darn impossible to the rest of us normal people. Maud and I both managed to find graduation dresses, but it took about six months of searching on my part, and almost as long for Maudie. White dresses (sans the bridal ones) are next to non-existent when it's not the middle of summer. Not helpful. It's definitely not easy, but I'm trying to cut out some of the work for you. I've scoured all (and I mean all) of my favorite online shops, and I rounded up a few formal and a few more casual graduation dress options. Enjoy:
ABS Empire Waist Chiffon and Satin gown, $435 at nordstrom.com, BG Haute Grecian White Evening Gown, $440 at edressme.com, J. Crew Solid Silk Chiffon Whitney long dress, $325 at jcrew.com. I know. There is a common theme here: grecian (insert spirit fingers here). There is a method to the madness though. Graduation is generally outdoors, so super-formal gowns look out of place. If you want the drama of a floor-length dress, grecian is one of the best ways to go because it exemplifies relaxed, easygoing glamour, it's comfortable, it moves well, and most of all, it's timeless (because ancient Greece was 2000+ years ago. If that's not timeless, I don't know what is). This ABS dress is probably the most formal, with the satin bodice and chiffon skirt. The pleating up top is interesting and unique, and the breezy skirt keeps the whole look from getting too stiff and dressy. These other two dresses are classic grecian, and pretty similar in terms of look and price. If you want more drama and a more form fitting dress, go for the one on the left, and if your graduation is a little less traditional or formal, go with the J. Crew gown (I was this close to getting it, and I still think about this dress--it comes in printed chiffon too).
Shoshanna Asymmetrical Pleated dress, $340 at shopbop.com, J .Crew Embossed-Cotton Lorelei dress, $98 at jcrew.com, J. Crew long Embossed-Cotton Aubrey Halter Dress, $175 at jcrew.com. Here are some of the more casual options. If you want to hit the one-shoulder trend, this Shoshanna dress is perfect (and versatile). I like the one-shoulder because it's of the moment now, but I think Michelle Obama wearing a one-shouldered gown to the Inaugural Ball points out that this is a classic look (hello Roman togas) that can stand the test of time. And the subtle pleating is so cute. This J. Crew strapless dress is a steal at $98. The cotton has a lovely embossed pattern that's hard to describe but very chic up close, and you could get a lot of wear out of this dress, which is always a plus. If you like your necklines halter-style, this last dress is for you. The clean lines and simplicity of the dress play down the dramatic neckline, and it highlights shoulders beautifully.
Pencey Cummberbund Strapless dress, $333 at singer22.com, BCBG Striped Organza Strapless dress, $318 at bcbg.com. I know these seem totally random, but bear with me. In all this graduation dress shopping, I stumbled across a few prom dress options, namely these two numbers below. Now I'm kind of depressed that I already bought mine, I would be all over that Pencey dress. Both of these will carry you into fall, but still look totally chic this May/June (or whenever your prom is).
ABS Dress: nordstrom.com
Pencey Dress: singer22.com
BCBG Dress: bcbg.com
BG Haute Dress: edressme.com
Shoshanna Dress: shopbop.com
J. Crew Whitney: jcrew.com
J. Crew Halter: jcrew.com
J. Crew Strapless: jcrew.com