The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing Quinceañera Dresses


If you’re Hispanic, you know the significance of a girl’s quinceañera. If you’re not Spanish but assisting preparations, this blog gives background information. Marking the transition to womanhood, the celebration is spectacular!

Several factors influence dress selection. Here you’ll learn how to choose the best style. Then, for each silhouette, you’ll see a breathtaking sample. If you’re not a 15-year-old Latina, you can live vicariously!


The term quinceañera derives from the Spanish words for “15” and “years.” In English, it’s the birthday celebration of a 15-year-old girl. For Latinas, it’s a rite of passage into womanhood. The tradition consists of two parts, a religious ceremony and reception party. Two symbolic gestures occur during the event:

  • last doll presentation
  • changing shoes

Representing a girl’s exit from childhood, she’s gifted with her last toy. The father exchanges her flat shoes for heels, as she steps into adulthood. Dad also has the honor of the first dance.

The party’s starring garment is the quinceañera dress. Color palettes are eye-popping! Favored hues are fuchsia, ruby, cobalt, and teal. Fabrics shimmer, featuring rich embellishments. Decorations are jaw-dropping! Enhancing the gown’s magnificence are embroidery, sequins, appliqués, lace, and beads.


To find the ideal gown, your primary considerations are cost, silhouette, and color.


“Setting a budget streamlines your search, provided you stay within it,” said Q by Da Vinci. Gown prices typically range from $250 to $1,000. Costs vary according to fabrics, design, and a girl’s size. Accessories such as a tiara, jewelry, and shoes can add another $40 to $200 to the ensemble’s expense.

Custom vs. Off-the-Rack
A custom-made dress costs more than off-the-rack, due to the handiwork involved. Customized gowns are made-to-order, a complex process. Off-the-rack garments only need alterations. Bodice changes range from $30 to $100. Adding a bustle costs between $25 and $100, depending on the number of skirt layers. Hemming can run from $40 to $200, increasing with additional layers.

Dress prices also reflect fabric choices. Less costly are chiffon and tulle. More expensive, in order of ascending price, are organza, taffeta, satin, and silk.

  • Chiffon – Lightweight and sheer, this fabric has a very fine weave. Twists in the yarns pucker the cloth, providing stretch.
  • Organza – Traditionally made of silk, this material has a thin, sheer weave. Modern types include synthetic fibers in nylon and polyester. Organza is stiffer than chiffon, with more shimmer.
  • Satin – This material is elegant, soft and smooth, with high luster.
  • Silk – Both comfortable and luxurious, silk has a rich sheen.
  • Taffeta – Tightly woven of silk or silk blends, this fabric is sleek. Its crisp texture emits a rustling sound with movement.
  • Tulle – This material is very fine netting, made of silk or silk blends. Stiffer than chiffon, it’s often starched.

Decorative touches increase a gown’s cost, especially if hand-sewn. Embellished silk is the priciest, at $130 per yard. Embroidered satin costs $65 per yard. Rhinestones range between $12 and $18 per yard, not including labor.


A girl’s figure is your guide to the best silhouette. The four basic body types are ruler, apple, pear, and hourglass. Popular silhouette options are A-line, mermaid, sheath, ballgown, and princess.

A) A-Line
One advantage of the A-line is that it complements all figures. The skirt flares from the waist in the shape of an “A,” with a slenderizing effect. Some dresses can include a corset back with crisscrossing ties accommodates weight fluctuations between fittings and the grand event.

B) Mermaid
Also known as a “fishtail dress,” this design is named for the mythical sea maiden. The style suits pear and hourglass figures, hugging the torso and flaring above the knee. Mermaid dresses are typically made of satin, silk, or taffeta, emphasizing a woman’s curves.

C) Sheath
Also termed a “column dress,” the sheath is narrow and slim-fitting, with vertical lines. Skimming the body, this dress befits ruler and hourglass figures. It also makes petite girls look taller. Chiffon or satin often form the fluid drape.

D) Ballgown
This design is classic quinceañera, grandiose and extravagant. The bodice is trim, in striking contrast to the widely flaring skirt. Beneath it, layers of fabric ramp up fullness. All gals look regal in a ballgown, suiting every body type. Commonly used fabrics are tulle, taffeta, satin, and silk.

E) Princess
This style pairs the A-line profile with a ballgown skirt. Rather than darts to shape the garment, the cut uses long seams and shaped panels. Princess is even more slimming than her two sisters. Vertical lines call your eye to the full-length seams. Princess happily flatters all body types.


This joy-filled occasion calls for bright hues. The colors above are just a sampling of the palette available to you. Two guidelines can aid your choice.

1. Match gown color to a woman’s personality. Fitting for shy girls are baby blue, mint green, and pale pink. Ideal for outgoing maidens are bright berry, golden yellow, and dark rose. Bold ladies are personified by red, purple, and magenta.

2. Colors are also symbolic. Red depicts confidence and enthusiasm. Blue exudes calmness and composure. Is the gal independent and self-reliant? If so, go with green. Pink portrays a girly, affectionate type. White is the traditional color, representing purity and innocence.

However, you’re not bound by convention. When it comes to dress color, there are no rules. Even animal prints are fashionable.


Many families pay a fortune to fund a quinceañera. According to a 2016 NY Times article, in the Big Apple, the event averages $15,000. Total price varies by venue, number of guests, and reception menu. Also factored in are fees for makeup artists, hair stylists, and DJs.

However, don’t go into debt! You can pare down the cost, beginning with an off-the-rack dress, altered by a seamstress. From Seventeen magazine, here are additional ways to save money.

You can easily get swept away by the hoopla of this occasion. Here’s a thought to rein in perspective. There’s likely a wedding in her future. Save your hard-earned money for that!