Planning Your Sweet 16 Party Look? Here’s The Best Dresses Under $100

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Is a friend’s sweet 16 party coming up? If so, here are the best dresses to wear to a sweet 16 party, plus some additional things you might want to consider.

(Pst – if you’re the star of the show, you might find better dress options for yourself from the 40 Gorgeous Affordable Prom Dresses post! Prom dresses are perfectly fine to wear on your sweet 16th – you’re in charge and make the decisions! With this said, we’re sure you’ll love the dresses featured in this post too!)


What Is a Sweet 16 Party, Anyway?


A sweet sixteen is a milestone birthday party in a teenage girl’s life that marks new responsibilities – for American youths, 16 is the age where they get to enjoy more freedom and also be able to handle more mature things. 16 is where many American teenagers get a driver’s license and their first jobs.

It’s most likely a Westernized version of the Quinceañera, which is a Mexican birthday tradition within Latino families and of their young girls turning 15. It’s usually an important birthday involving ball gowns, huge tiered birthday cakes, glamorous venues like hotel ballrooms, and a lot of guests.


How Formal Is Your Event?


First, before jumping to the perfect dresses to wear to a sweet 16 party (as a guest or as the birthday girl), you must also consider the type of formality the party has. Every sweet 16 party is different, so check with the organizer first!


1. Black Tie Event

This is the most formal type of special occasion, and the dress code usually calls for long evening gowns/dresses for girls and suits for boys. Black Tie events are typically held in hotels or in extravagant ballrooms. If you have been invited to a black-tie Sweet 16 party, start looking for sleek, glamorous and long dresses or even ball gowns.

2. Formal

This formal event is a step down from a black-tie event, so if your invite says to show up in formal wear, you can go for either a midi dress or a long dress with a variety of styles like lace appliques.

3. Semi-Formal

This is usually the dress code for most Sweet 16 parties. If this is the case for you too, you and your girlfriends can totally show up in cute short party dresses (that still look formal!), sparkly cocktail attire, or little black dresses. Be sure not to be too sparkly though, as you don’t want to upstage the birthday girl! 

4. Casual

This is the most laid-back dress code, but please don’t get the wrong idea! Just because the dress-code is casual doesn’t mean it okay to show up in jeans or shorts and a simple t-shirt! Casual wear just means that you can show up in a cute, lowkey sundress with playful colors, a pretty top paired with a skirt, or even a jumpsuit. These types of outfits are best paired with cute closed-toe step-ins, strappy sandals or even a smart pair of sneakers.


Pay Attention To Special Requests


There will be cases where the birthday girl has a special request. Themed parties are the latest trends these days, and they can include anything from a movie night theme, to a sleepover theme, or even a color-themed party.

The birthday girl might ask her guests and friends to come in comfortable pajamas for a sleepover-themed party, or she might ask everyone to come in her favorite color in the form of cute dresses. So before you plan your dress or your outfit, it’s best to ask her if she has any special requests! She will feel loved and valued.


15 Cute Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party (Under $100)


Formal dresses, short dresses, and bodycon dresses are a great choice for a usual sweet 16 birthday party. This big day will be filled with light refreshments, some dancing, singing, and a lot of games, so it’s also important to choose a durable, high-quality dress that’s also age-appropriate for a young woman.

One of the best styles for a cocktail dress would be the sweetheart neckline or a classic strapless sweetheart. If you’re a little on the modest side, a dress with long sleeves would be fine. In terms of colors, unless the birthday girl wants you to follow a certain color, you can show up in a classic color like a white dress.

Below, we’ve featured our favorite 15 dresses that you can wear to a sweet 16 party, all from affordable retailers!

The best places to look for affordable sweet 16 dresses (in our opinion) are Lulus, Hello Molly,Shein and Windsor(Windsor is more famous for dresses suited for formal events like prom or homecoming).




Light blue sweet 16 party dress with slit


Get this dress at Windsor




Short pink sweet 16 dress with sequins


Get this dress at Hello Molly




Short backless black dress with sleeves for sweet 16


Get this dress at Lulus




Champagne rose gold long sweet 16 dress with sequins and thigh slit


Get this dress at Hello Molly




Emerald green dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Sparkly long bodycon dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Shein




Eyelet dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Silver sequined mini dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Dusty pink bodycon dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Shein




Baby pink cami sequined dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Short burgundy dress with sequins


Get this dress at Lulus




Floral jacquard dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Black sequined bodycon dress with mesh sleeves


Get this dress at Shein




Green mini dress for Dresses To Wear To A Sweet 16 Party


Get this dress at Lulus




Champagne satin skater dress with sequins


Get this dress at Shein


Hopefully, you found the perfect party dress for the sweet 16 you’re attending. Now, let’s go over some commonly asked questions.


Commonly Asked Questions

Why is a girl’s 16th birthday so important? 

Like what we mentioned above, 16 is the age where young teens can handle more responsibilities such as getting a job or driving their first car. Moreover, 16 is also the age in a girl’s life where she turns into a woman, and that her childhood has ended.

Is a sweet 16 and a Quinceañera the same thing? 

They are quite similar but they’re not the same thing. A sweet 16 is simply a huge birthday bash or a coming of age party for a young American teen turning 16, while a Quinceañera is loaded with traditions – not only is it an extravagant, glamorous birthday for a young Latina girl turning 15, but it also has religious roots.

The Quinceañera celebration starts at a church where the birthday girl (wearing her quince dress) and her family will be blessed. Another tradition that makes a Quinceañera different from a sweet 16 is the “change of shoes” – where her father or another parental figure will help her change from flat shoes into high heels, which signifies her entry into womanhood.

Can a sweet 16 party have traditions? 

Sure! One popular tradition that can be practiced at a sweet 16 is the father-daughter dance. It’s up to you and your family to create your own unique traditions that will make your sweet 16 stand out from the rest.


Did you find this article helpful? We hope you did! If you’re still looking for more fashion ideas or style guides, check the posts down below.


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  1. so you’re skinny? none of these will work for plus size women.

    1. Maria Julia says:

      Most of these dresses come in XL and L, you’ll just need to navigate to the retailer’s website to see them.

  2. I am an extra large because im fat soooo…. yeah also my sweet 16 is coming up so happy birthday to me!!

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