I know a few ladies who are looking for affordable graduation dresses to wear this spring, and I think I may have struck gold! The other day while conducting research (as I like to call it) at JCPenney, I tried on a bunch of spring dresses from the American Living line (that's their Ralph Lauren red-white-and-blue Americana themed collection), and I think they looked, in a word, CLASSY. The American Living collection as a whole doesn't reflect my personal style, but even I like to get pulled-together for special occasions, and these ladylike frocks were a breath of fresh air.
Here, I'm modeling three of the more brightly hued dresses. The feminine, conservative-chic cuts were very flattering, each dress was fully-lined and allowed for normal bra-wear. I'm wearing a black bra underneath the white dress (below) and it did not show through, which says something about the quality.
Another pro: Long hemlines. Finally a practical skirt that drops at the knee. (I say practical because I have nothing against short skirts and showing leg, but sometimes you need more length—at a formal graduation ceremony, for example!) Yet another great thing about these dresses is that they're available in Misses size 4-16; additionally, many of the dresses are also available in Plus size 14W-24W. Sweet.
Ok, so let's talk price: All American Living dresses were on sale at my local JCPenney, averaging around $60. However, I was looking at the new spring arrivals. There were great finds under $50 on the clearance racks. Overall, I didn't see any dresses over $100. You may want to check it out in stores, then consider ordering online. Stalk the sales, and use a coupon.
If bright colors aren't your thing, the American Living collection also had a large selection of classic black options. Worn with a cropped cardigan, pearls and strappy heels or cute wedges, I think any of these dresses will help you accept your diploma in style.
View the entire American Living collection here.