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The Tab’s guide to May Ball dress shopping

May Ball week might seem a while away but there’s no time like the present to get your dress(es) sorted


Regardless of how seriously you take getting ready for a ball, there are so many aspects to consider when choosing a dress. It has to be formal. It has to be beautiful and flattering. It has to look good in Instagram photos. Perhaps most importantly, it can’t be extortionately expensive (assuming you want to be able to eat in Easter term)!

With this is mind, here is a comprehensive guide of where to begin your search. Get on it now to avoid the last minute panic at the end of May!

1. Your local vintage store

There will be hidden gems among the racks of crumpled polyester. Bonus points if you live in London – the vintage shops in Notting Hill are some of the best in the country.

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Vintage fabrics

2. Topshop

If you don’t have time to dedicate to finding your dream dress you could do a lot worse than a high-street staple. A nice dress at Topshop will probably set you back around £70 so if budget is an issue then this is something to bear in mind.

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Lady in red

3. ASOS/Missguided/Pretty Little Thing/Boohoo

The classic online shops for cheap(ish) dresses! There’s a huge amount of variety so while browsing the websites is fun it’s a lot easier to go into it knowing exactly what sort of dress you want and filtering it down rather than hoping to chance on your dream dress for £20.

4. Depop/eBay

Depop and eBay are perfect for a dress on a budget as well, and you’re more likely to come across something completely unique! You can put your student life skills to good use as well trying to haggle for a better price.

5. Your family/friends

Chances are someone you know has a dress lying around that would be perfect for you! Look to your fashionable (and trusting) bff, your hot auntie/cousin or maybe even your mum and you might be lucky enough to bag a dress completely free.

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When you and your mum are the same size

6. If you feel like it would be a waste of money to buy outright a dress you might only wear once, consider renting a dress

London is teeming with dress rental shops but they can be found in most other cities as well. Just don’t spill alcohol all over it!

One final piece of advice, don’t order a dress from Amazon! The chances of it looking like the photo are slim to none.

Happy dress shopping!

All photos are the author's own.