Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

February 2, 2016

Dressing for College Formal Events on a Budget.

     As a blogger, I always think it's fun to track which of my older posts still bring in a lot of traffic to my website. In recent weeks, readers have been flocking to many of my older posts about dressing for formal events while on a budget. I knew after seeing those blog analytics that I definitely needed to give a full recap for the formal that I went to at school this weekend.

      I absolutely love formal events or any excuse to dress up more than my daily routine allows. Dances were one of my favorite parts of high school, and I have been very lucky in college to have gotten to attend some fun formals and semi-formals- everything from sorority events to getting invited back to my former college by friends of mine for their annual spring formal!

     This past Friday was the Royal Ball, which is the annual senior class formal at my college. My suitemate Caroline took a couple pictures of my outfit before the event! I found my dress a couple of months ago at Ross for only $35! Fun fact: I have never paid more than $50 for any of my formal dresses that I've worn for various events that I've attended in college. I generally prefer to spend my money on investment pieces that I will get more use out of, such as boots, purses, or even jewelry. It is absolutely possible to look great for formals while sticking to a strict budget. (Here and here are some past blog posts where I've shared other formal looks on a budget!)

      I've linked some of my favorite $50 and under formal dresses below, but I will also say that y'all should be sure to check out stores like Forever 21, Marshall's, Ross, or any local formalwear outlet stores in your area! I've had the best of luck at all of these stores before when looking for formal and cocktail dresses.

      A little recap of the Royal Ball: I thought that it was sadly kind of a dud... barely any students from my class attended! The planning committee did a nice job with the decorations, food and music, but the promotion for the event was done at the last minute, so few people went. It is a little sad that my sorority's annual formal has a higher turnout of people... and we're a chapter of only about 45 girls! Because the event was so dead, my friend Ciera (who came as my date) and I only stayed about half an hour and then decided to head out for a night on the town in Charlotte instead. Definitely a good decision, as I don't think we missed much at school. ;-)

     I did get a few pictures with my friends before the formal started:

My best friend from my former college, Ciera!

My Big in ADPi, Jess!

     So even though the event itself wasn't that great, I still had a lot of fun dressing up, and had a lovely time with two of my dear friends! And that is always something to be happy about.

     Do you try and stick to a budget when preparing for formal events as well? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below! (P.S. I did my up-do myself! That rarely happens but my hair actually cooperated that night!)

     xoxo Miss ALK


  1. Love all of your dresses!! You all look so classy :)

  2. It's too bad more people didn't show up for the party, it's good you guys were able to make the best of it and still enjoy dressing up. I relish any reason to dress in formal wear! You look gorg <3

  3. You look stunning, sweet girl! I can't believe you got that dress that inexpensively, that's a steal!

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  4. I miss college formals — they were always such a fun time!

    Kayla || Keynotes from Kay

  5. Your outfit is absolutely gorgeous. Sorority formals were my favorite in college! You look beautiful.

  6. I love this dress so much! You look gorgeous, as always.
    The Fashionista's Diary

  7. Haha I know how showing up and leaving soon to go out into town goes far too well! Y'all look amazing! Formal always break my bank so this is definitely relatable!!

  8. Great dress, and such a great post!

  9. That is a gorgeous dress! I usually get my formal dresses in Forever21, Express or even Modcloth, and I made it a rule for myself not to spend more than 60$ in those. So far it's worked!

    Ane | Basque Prep

  10. That dress is beautiful :) Now I am missing college!

    Allyssa, Life with Lyss

  11. Dressing for formal events was always such a stress for me in college. Mostly because I was apart of various planning & activity committees and my own outfit was always last on my list of things to take care of. Great savings tips, I try to keep my budget under $50 for formal occasions as well. xx Merisa | Monogrammed Magnolias

  12. You are gorgeous!!! What a perfect dress!

  13. First off, that dress is gorgeous! Secondly, this post was much needed. I don't go to school formals often, but I do attend formals for academic conventions. I've been struggling to find something suitable on such a small budget.

  14. I love dressing up. I wish my school had events like this! I agree on not spending much on a one time wear dress.

  15. You look so lovely and classy! And great steal for the dress!

  16. gorgeous dress and what a great price!

    xo brie

  17. Such a stunning number – and a total steal! Good for you for being so responsible with your finances! Formal dresses can get so expensive!

  18. I love looking at analytic numbers like that too! You look stunning!

    Sara Kate Styling

  19. This is really a nice dress! You look very pretty in this. I will be hosting a small party on my birthday at an outdoor event venue and was looking for such a nice dress for my birthday bash. Please share from where you bought it.


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