It’s your first formal at your sorority, and you’ve never been more excited–not since rush week, anyway, when you were on your toes, wearing the perfect, cutest, sorority dress, waiting to find out who your sisters would be! And now, you and your sisters are closer than ever, and you can’t wait for the night when you’ll all be huddled in front of a mirror, doing each other’s makeup, styling each other’s hair, and getting ready for your very first formal. It’s even more exciting than senior prom in high school!

But before you start deciding what guys you’re going to chat up, and what jewelry you’re going to wear, you have to find that perfect formal dress. Luckily, there are lots of great deals online, which means that you won’t have to go into debt buying it. Here’s how to find it online:

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Try on some dresses–and find out what works for you

Even though it might sound counter-intuitive, considering that you’re shopping online, the first thing you’ll want to do is to try on some dresses. Think about it this way: even if you aren’t going to end up buying your dress from Nordstrom or Caché, you can still make a stop at these brick-and-mortar stores, browse through the different fashions and styles, and make a selection to try on in the changing room.

And once you find the dress that works for you–and for your friends, of course, who’ll be there with you trying on dresses and telling you which ones suit you best–you can look for it online to save money. The savings are huge, so it’s worth the wait of having it shipped: you can save 40-50 percent when buying dresses online instead of at brick-and-mortar stores.

Besides, this is also a chance to explore the dresses that fit you best. In the same way applying to college–and, eventually, law school or med school–is in large part about finding what feels right and comfortable, finding the perfect dress for your first sorority formal is about slipping into something that fits like a glove.

So whether you’re petite or tall, there are some dresses that are going to look better on you. You probably already know what dresses look best on you, but if you aren’t sure, then check out this guide from–it covers a description of every body shape out there, with celebrity examples and recommended dressing styles for you. And if you still aren’t sure, or if you want to try on a variety of dresses just to decide, check out With sorority dresses ranging on average between $80-$100, with a variety of colors and fits (sizes 0 to 30!), they’ve got a great try-on-at-home option that means you and your sisters can get together for a fitting party, modeling different looks from your sorority house!

Be smart about the sites you’re shopping on

Before you make that purchase, however, you’re going to want to take a step back and look at the sites you’re considering buying your dress from. There’s a reason why 70 percent of people don’t fully trust poorly designed websites, and that’s because it’s a pretty big red flag if you’re buying something from them. Other things to watch out for include a shady return policy (or no return policy at all), or no sign of their presence of social media. (After all, would you date a guy who doesn’t have an Instagram or Facebook profile? The answer is, or should be, no, and the same goes for websites you’re buying products from, too.)

So you’ll want a store policy that works for your budget, and, additionally, read the reviews, too. Gen Zers–who will soon make up 40 percent of consumers–spend a lot of time reading reviews before buying a product online, even cheap products. If you’re interested in a dress, but there are four out of five reviews saying that shipping was delayed or the material was cheap, you may want to reconsider buying from the shop or plan so you’ll have time to return your dress if it isn’t what you expected.

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And if you’re into retro, or you’re into saving the environment and don’t want to produce more waste, another option when it comes to buying online is by buying a used dress. But, of course, if you want to impress everyone, it can’t actually look used–which is why you should check out this list from Buzzfeed of the best places to buy clothes online. That way, you already know these businesses are legit–and they sell some fabulous, high-end vintage products, too!

As you can see, shopping online to find your first sorority formal dress is all about knowing what works for you, and how to save some money with a seller you trust. Oh, and by the way? These guidelines work too for the shoes and the jewelry!

How do you imagine your look for your first formal with your sorority sisters?