I still remember being in high school and college shopping for formal dresses for prom and formal sorority and fraternity parties, but I don't think I ever actually purchased one from the mall. The main reason is that they have racks full of the same dresses in assorted sizes, and that increases the likelihood that someone else will show up at your event in the same dress! Granted, my formal attire days were before the internet shopping era, but I still preferred to shop at smaller boutiques for unique dresses. In today's era, I think I'd choose to shop online, and lower my chances of showing up somewhere in the same dress as someone else.
I am short, so I was always able to wear Short dresses that were never too short. When you have short legs, short dresses fit lower on your legs :) As an adult though, I think I am more into longer (knee length on me) cocktail dresses for formal events. If we can get the details worked out, we have an opportunity to potentially go on our first cruise in August. I do not currently have any formal attire that fits, but I know that I will need at least one dress if we get it worked out to go on this cruise. I am also starting a weight loss system on the 12th, so I'll have 6 months to lose some weight and look good in a cocktail dress. I've included a picture at the top of the post of one that I like. It's something to work towards :)