Searching for the perfect vintage party dress can be a time consuming business.

Searching eBay, etsy, vintage fairs and shops all for the perfect dress in the perfect size at the perfect price can take hours, days, weeks even. If you have a party to go to and you need a dress there’s plenty of fabulous vintage reproduction companies like Able Grable and Heyday Vintage Style, but at short notice sometimes you need to try things on.

If you need a party dress in a hurry, then don’t discount the mainstream High Street stores. The popularity of “vintage” styles has led to many stores creating their own interpretations of classic bias cut 30s style gowns, 40s sweetheart necklines and 50s prom dresses and shifts.

A bit of careful, selective shopping, good accessories and amazing hair are the key to getting an evening look that’s all yours, and not at all High Street clone.

Points to beware when shopping on the High Street:

  • Too high waistbands – High Street stores seem to have a mistaken belief that our waists are somewhere up under our boobs. If you have a long body pay particular attention to where the waist falls on you
  • Too short hemlines –  Fine if you’re petite, but if you’re average height or over a lot of dresses sit, on or just above the knee. I prefer mine just below. As I also have a long body a combination of the top 2 issues often leaves me looking like I’m wearing a kids party frock instead of an elegant prom dress.
  • Baggy waists – Those with a “vintage” figure (ie. One with a difference of 10″ or more between waist and hip measurement) will often find high street dresses too loose on the waist, think about whether a belt or alterations are possible.
  • Poor fabrics – Shiny polyester jersey and cheap clingy satin are 2 particular ones that spring to mind and will give away your frocks High Street origins no matter how gorgeous your hair and make up.

As a quick head start I’ve picked 3 of my favourite High Street party frocks with “vintage” styling.

Oasis Iris Velvet Dress £55

This looks, on the model, like it may be a little short. The model is 5’8″ though, so if you’re petite this is a beautiful 40s style dress.

Warehouse 40s Maxi Dress £80

This dress has a nice keyhole detail in the back view and is very simple so can be dressed up with wonderful costume jewellery and accessories like gloves and hats.


Classic Prom dress style. Again a really plain dress, ideal for putting your own stamp onto.