How to Dress for Prom
Dressing for prom should be a fun experience, but you’ll need to plan your look. Decide if you’ll be wearing a dress, suit, or tuxedo. It doesn’t matter which you choose, as long as you’re comfortable and feel confident in your choice. Take your outfit to the next level by choosing accessories such as jewelry, shoes, flowers, or handbags that compliment rather than compete with your clothes.
Wearing and Styling a Dress
Pick a dress that is appropriate for your school. Most schools have some sort of dress code that will dictate how revealing your prom dress can be. Check the dress code restrictions about acceptable hemlines, necklines, cutaways, and slits.
- Most prom dresses are long formal gowns, but some may have long slits up the leg. Check your school’s prom handbook to determine if a gown with a long slit is allowed.
Look at dresses that will compliment your body type. This will help you avoid unflattering cuts. You’re sure to find lots of beautiful options to narrow down. If your body type is:
- Pear shaped (smaller upper body with wider hips): Choose dresses with fitted tops or an A-line skirt that will balance your curves.
- Slender or straight: Accentuate your curves by highlighting your waist. Pick dresses with an Empire waist, belt, or wrapped fabric. If your school allows it, choose a deep v-neck cut.
- Busty or full: Look for a dress with full coverage so you have good support. You can pick from most necklines and styles.
- Petite: To add the appearance of height, choose shorter dresses that reveal some of your legs. Ruffled dresses can also make you look taller.
- Hourglass (curvy bust and hips with a thinner waist): Since your figure is balanced, try a variety of styles to see what you like best.
- Apple shape (wider waist or hips): Pick dresses with an Empire waist to draw attention towards the top of your body.
Choose colors that flatter your skin tone. Although you can choose any color you want or stick with classic black or white, narrow your choices to a color palette that flatters your complexion. Use some of these suggestions as a starting point for colors based on skin tone:
- Warm: If you have skin with a greenish, yellow, or olive undertone with hair that ranges from dark blonde to dark brown, try oranges, reds, yellows, warm greens, deep blues, and red-purples. Avoid icy colors and jewel tones.
- Cool: For very fair to very dark skin with a bluish undertone and very light to very dark hair, pick bright blues, jewel tones, purples, and bright pinks. Avoid oranges and yellows.
- Neutral: If you can’t tell if you have a warm or cool undertone and you have hazel eyes, try neutral colors like pinks, peaches, jade, and pale blue. Avoid bright colors, reds, and bold yellows.
- 4Try on several dresses to narrow down your options. Once you have several dresses in styles and colors that suit your figure and skin tone, try them on! Bring a trusted friend along for advice and try each dress on. Consider how flattering the dress looks, how comfortable it feels, and how the dress makes you feel. Pick the dress that makes you feel your best.
- 5Make several shopping trips before you buy. Don’t worry if you can’t make up your mind on your first shopping trip. Ask your friend to use their cell phone to take pictures of you wearing the dresses. Then you can shop around a bit more and compare the dresses.
Walk around in the dress to ensure that you’re comfortable. You should feel both beautiful and comfortable in your prom dress. If you sacrifice one for the other, you may not get as much out of your prom experience as you otherwise could. Wear the dress around for at least 10 minutes to decide if it’s easy to move around in it.
- If you’re looking at a strapless dress, move around to see if you have to keep pulling the dress up. If so, you may prefer something with straps or sleeves.
- 7Dress shop 2 to 3 months before prom. Give yourself plenty of time to try on dresses, especially if you think you’ll need to have the dress altered. Keep in mind that as prom gets closer, the selection of dresses will dwindle.
Choosing a Suit or Tuxedo
Rent a tuxedo or get a suit jacket. Prom is a semi-formal event, so you’ll either need a tuxedo jacket or a suit jacket that can mimic the tuxedo look. An actual tuxedo jacket will make you look sharper, but suit jackets are the cheaper option.
- If you do go with a tuxedo, rent instead of buy. Tuxedos are expensive, and since you’re still growing, you’ll probably only wear this piece once.
- The jacket should either have a peaked lapel or a shawl collar. The lapels can either be faced in satin or in the same fabric as the rest of the jacket.
Choose the color of your tuxedo or suit jacket. While black will work well with just about any colors your date wears, you could also wear navy or white if these won’t clash. For example, if your date is wearing a black outfit, avoid wearing navy. If your date is wearing white, your outfit will stand out more if you choose black or navy.
- If you want to wear a bold color such as blue, maroon, or purple, check with your date to ensure that it will work with their outfit.
Match the trousers to your jacket. The dress trousers should be the exact same shade and made from the same material as your jacket. If you’re wearing a tuxedo, the pants should have a satin strip down each trouser leg.
- If you’re buying or renting formal trousers, you’ll also need to get suspenders instead of a belt.
Choose a plain white dress shirt. For a traditional look, go with a shirt that has pleats. For a more modern look, opt for one without pleats. If you’re unsure, try on both to see which you prefer. You’ll also need to decide if you want the standard collar that lays down or if you want a fancier collar that’s wing-tipped.
- If you don’t want a traditional look, choose a shirt color that compliments the color of your date’s outfit instead of white.
- Remember to take cuff style into consideration. Barrel cuffs are simple and the most common on buttoned dress shirts while French cuffs are a little fancier.
Wear a black bow tie instead of a long tie. If you can, tie your own bow tie or use a clip-on version. For a classic prom look, choose a black bow tie. You can also talk with your prom date about coordinating colors.
- For example, if your date is wearing dark earth colors, try a deep green tie.
- If your date is wearing a rich purple with a shimmery blue, choose a a shade of blue or purple that matches.
Pick out a vest or cummerbund. If you want the most formal look, choose a black satin cummerbund to wear under your suit or tux. For a slightly more casual look, wear a black satin vest.
- If you are a little more daring, choose a cummerbund in a solid color that coordinates with your date’s outfit.
Accessorizing Your Dress
Choose comfortable shoes that work with your outfit. Remember that you’ll be dancing and moving all night, so pick shoes that won’t rub or be uncomfortable. The shoes should compliment the style and color of your outfit, especially if the shoes will be visible.
- For example, if you’re wearing a floor-length dress, you may need to wear heels to raise your dress off of the floor.
- Consider wearing stylish or neutral-colored flats for the most comfort.
Select jewelry that compliments the dress. To avoid wearing too much distracting jewelry, choose a statement piece. This could be a necklace, pair of fancy cuff links, or earrings. The item should work with the rest of the outfit instead of competing for attention. Once you’ve chosen your main piece, pick a few other simple items to round out the look.
- Keep in mind that you may be pinning a corsage onto your dress or wearing it on your wrist.
- You might wear a long drop necklace that’s highlighted by your dress. Wear simple stud earrings that don’t overwhelm the rest of your look.
Carry a handbag or clutch, if necessary. Decide if you want to carry a few items with you to prom such as your cell phone, wallet, or makeup. Store these in a handbag or clutch that matches the style of your outfit. If you only need to carry 1 or 2 small things, you may be able to put them in pockets.
- For example, if you’re wearing a beaded flapper-style dress, choose a small beaded clutch in a color that compliments the dress.
Wear a shrug if you think you’ll be cold. Since most proms take place during warm weather, you probably won’t need a shrug. If you get cold easily or think your outfit would look great with a shrug, choose 1 that you can wrap or drape around your shoulders.
- Around prom season, you’ll be able to find lightweight, elegant little wraps made of delicate materials like chiffon. These are your best option since they are both fancy and functional.
Accessorizing Your Tux or Suit
Wear polished dress shoes. If you’re wearing used dress shoes, give them a quick polish so they shine. You can also rent formal shoes to go with your suit or tux. Select shoes that work with the color of your suit or tux. Shoes are available in brown, black, navy, or white.
- If you’re wearing a colored suit, pick a color that will highlight your suit. For example, if the jacket is maroon, choose black or white shoes.
- 2Pick out cuff links. While you don’t have to wear cuff links, a little jewelry will add sparkle and sophistication to your look. Choose cuff links made from a material that will match your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a shirt with gold studs, wear sophisticated gold cuff links instead of silver ones.
Wear a boutonniere. Work with your date to decide on flowers that are suitable for your outfit. For example, you might pick a red rose that matches their outfit. Secure the boutonniere on the left lapel of the jacket so the flower’s stem points down.
- Your flowers should complement the color of your dress but doesn’t have to be the exact same shade. For example, deep red flowers work well with a cream or black outfit.
- If you’re wearing a suit or tux, consider wearing a plain white pocket square to complete your look.