Sure, there are loads of places you can shop when you need to find a dress for a graduation, debs or (someone else's) wedding – but sometimes you just want to find something that little bit different and, y'know, that no one else is going to rock up wearing.
It's tougher than it looks, especially when popping over to Asos is the easiest thing in the world (but, four hours later, when you still haven't found something you like... not so much). So we've put together a handy cheat sheet of where to go to find the formal dress of your dreams.
1. Allicano, Johnson Place
This hidden gem in Dublin 2 may not even be on your radar, but it has a huge variety of fab frocks and separates that'll do for a whole host of occasions, from black tie to dressy-casual to that Friday night you decide to go "out-out". Not just out, y'know, "out-out".
2. Om Diva, Drury St
Chances are, you've passed this colourful little boutique by loads of times – you might even have taken a rest on the cutesy little bench outside. Well, inside it's a treasure trove of bright and beautiful dresses, as well as accessories and bits 'n' bobs by Irish designers. Definitely worth a visit.
3. Jenny Vander, Drury St
This vintage shop in town is one of Dublin's longest-established, and has a huge selection to choose from. Word of warning for vintage newbies, though: sizes were totally different back then, so you'll have to try everything on. And don't be put off by a waist that looks super-narrow; some vintage dresses are boned, so essentially contain a corset that'll nip you in a good few inches.
The gals behind this online shop have heavy-hitters Asos and Topshop behind them, so they know how to design dresses. The good news for those of us who have a lot of weddings to go to in any given year is that you won't find any of your run-of-the-mill wrap dresses here; prints are quirky and shapes are really unusual.
5. Carousel, Wicklow St
This Dublin boutique – which also has an online shop – sells a host of vintage-style tea dresses from their own brand and others they buy in, so there's loads to suit different shapes, sizes and tastes. And don't be put off if vintage style isn't your thing; they do plain fabrics, too!
6. Bow & Pearl, Ranelagh
This southside shop pretty much does everything – party dresses, hats, jewellery and it's just got a delivery of gorgeous winter coats and jackets. We adore it.
7. Retro, George's St Arcade
This vintage-style dress emporium has been around for donkey's – but you may not even have noticed it, nestled among the record and book shops in the George's St Arcade. Its kooky prints and vintage shapes won't be for everyone – but unless you're going to a rockabilly festival (or an Imelda May gig) you won't see anyone else in the same shtyle.
8. Dirty Fabulous, Exchequer St
Dirty Fabulous stocks a massive range of vintage bridal and occasionwear from the 1920s to 1940s, and is appointment only – so it's probably not one for Friday night down the pub, but if you're looking for that special something, the gals will definitely be able to help you out.
9. Dipili Boutique, Ormond Quay
This minimal little boutique on the North quays is of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it variety, thanks to its super-Scandi window vibes. But it'd be a sin to skip it; you'll find loads of unusual labels that might just be what you're looking for.