The Cutest Graduation Dresses For Teens

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We had been getting reader questions about graduation dresses – most of them, naturally, were about what moms should wear to their kids’ graduation (Linz has a ton of strong opinions in that article and, frankly, nailed it). But there were enough readers asking for a round up of graduation dresses for teens that I thought I’d take a little peek.

And by “take a little peek” I basically meant “recruit my besties” Gia & Avery.

Gia’s dress | Avery’s dress

First, I reached out to Gia. “Give me a couple of examples of dresses you’d be excited to wear to graduation next year,” I texted. Within 5 min, I had links from Gia, all to cute little white dresses. Confused, I called her. Pax picked up her phone. “Hey, Mom. We’re at play practice. Gia’s about to go on. Did you get her dress picks?”

For some reason, the surprise insertion of my son into this conversation cracked me up, so I decide to just lean in. “Why are all the dresses white? Do they have to be white?” I asked, rapid-fire, in a serious voice. There’s a beat of silence – I’m sure he had zero clue but I was curious to see how he’d play this. “I’ll get back to you,” he said, definitively, and hung up. I immediately dissolved into snort-giggles.

So…Graduation Dresses Are Supposed To Be White?

Gia’s dress | Avery’s dress

Later, Gia explained that the white dress thing isn’t a rule (at least not in Philadelphia), but that most of the girls, collectively, have decided to wear white. And after a bit of googling, the tradition of the white graduation dress started quite some time ago (although it definitely was not in practice in Marquette, MI in 1994, haha), and is supposed to represent, among other things…purity. Blech.

However!! White dresses are stunning on every skin tone, they’re beautiful in photos, and there’s something very ceremonial about all of the girls wearing a white dress. White does seem to represent a milestone.

Gia’s dress | Avery’s dress

So okfine: I’ll get over myself. White* it is!

*Also, I would have zero problems if my daughter wanted to wear something that wasn’t white. But for research purposes, just know that it does seem – after a very informal poll of both my kiddo’s friends and the Gen Z’ers in the office – that most girls do choose to wear white to graduation.


Top 5 Places To Shop For Cute Graduation Dresses (Under $100)

Gia’s dress | Avery’s dress

To make things really easy (and affordable – dresses under $100 were the goal here), after a bunch of online research & back and forth with my besties, there are basically 5 places worth shopping for graduation dresses:

  1. Lulu’s Top choice! Lulu’s has a whole section of graduation dresses (not all are white), and our favorites were under $100. There’s also a decent selection of plus-size grad dresses, too. The biggest downside is that their dresses sell out fast. Happily, Lulu’s comes out with similar styles pretty frequently, so if your favorite dress sells out, there’s usually something very similar available.
  2. Urban Outfitters – While Urban does carry some pricier brands (EX: this Love&Lemons dress is gorgeous, but too much for a grad dress), their in-house lines are perfect for graduation. Look for white dresses from the UO brand, BDG, or Kimchee Blue, especially. Gia’s dress is from Urban Outfitters.
  3. Aerie – I had originally assumed that Aerie would skew too casual, but their comfy little dresses, done in white, end up looking really chic in person. This one was a pleasant surprise. Sizes up to XXL.
  4. Hollister – For the same reason we like the Aerie dresses, Hollister is another great choice: breezy, comfy dresses that end up looking really chic in white. Avery’s dress is from Hollister and is a perfect example of a pretty little white dress that’s also really, really comfortable (and could be worn all summer, too).
  5. Nordstrom – It’s easy to find really pretty & very expensive white dresses at Nordstrom (soooo many to drool over), but, thanks to their in-house brands like BP. and Chelsea28 (among others), there’s actually a ton of white dresses under $100 that would be perfect for graduation.

Our Favorite Graduation Dresses For Teens (In White)

All of these dresses have been approved by either Gia or Avery! And ps. I tried to include a few longer options…but short little dresses were definitely their top choice.

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1. Jacquard Lace-Up Midi Dress (With Pockets!!)

At Lulus

Ummm…I want this dress. Which is beside the point! The girls liked it, however, because a) pockets and b) the back. It’s not nearly as demure as it looks from the front.


2. Bri Double Bow Satin Mini Dress

At Urban Outfitters

This is Gia’s cute little dress. It was the bow back for us. And while this one isn’t sheer, per se, you will need skin-toned underwear.


3. White Satin Babydoll Dress

At Lulus

Oh wow – this one is cuuuute. I love the babydoll silhouette, especially with a pair of sneakers. (Fun fact: I wore a babydoll dress to my high school graduation, too. But it was…green. We hadn’t gotten the white dress memo.)


4. White Chiffon Ruffled Tie-Strap Dress

At Lulus

Oof – I’d had to replace this dress (or dresses really similar) three times now, due to sell-outs. And this dress is…yup: basically sold out again. So I’m leaving it here as an example because this dress (and its predecessors) were Gia and Avery’s favorites.

Here are a few that have a similar vibe:


5. Bustier Midi Dress

At Nordstrom

I love the texture, and the slight vintage vibes. Reminds me of a Reformation dress.


6. White Lace Tie-Shoulder Babydoll Dress

At Lulus

Another fav that keeps selling out (a few sizes still left, but going fast). Since this was another fan favorite, here are a few more babydoll dresses:


7. Lilly Lace Corset Dress

At Urban Outfitters

This one of of Gia’s original top picks. Such a romantic dress, but still playful, too.


8. Dreamy Celebration Tulle Swiss Dot Dress

At Lulus

The sleeves are so pretty, as well as the tulle skirt. Gahhh there’s almost Bridgerton vibes. I love it.


9. Flutter Sleeve Smocked Skort Dress

At Hollister

This is Avery’s cute dress! It actually looks much less beachy in person than it does in the Hollister photos. I absolutely adore this dress (and so does Aves – it’s suuuuper comfy, too). This one happens to be on sale for under $50.


10. Jacquard Strapless Bubble-Hem Dress

At Lulus

Okaaaay. My inner teen is LOVING this 90’s revival. (And yes, I did wear a bubble skirt to prom one year.) This one might be my favorite. Just so cute and fun.


11. Lantern Sleeve Ruffle Dress

At Amazon

I do love the drape of the sleeves on this cute little dress…and it has over 4K glowing reviews, so. There’s that. This one is the most affordable of the bunch, currently on sale for under $50.


Gia’s dress | Avery’s dress

Congrats, Grads!! And good job, Mamas – you made it. (Sob!)

xo,

S