Part 1 Girls
Find the perfect dress.
The most obvious thing you'll need for prom is a gorgeous dress. Prom dresses are a type of formal dress, but as far as formal dresses go, they tend to be on the more budget-friendly side. When picking out the perfect dress, you'll need to consider your own sense of style while also figuring out which dresses look best on you.
- For more information about getting the right dress, see the separate section contained within this article.
Pick out matching shoes.
 The shoes you choose for prom should work with the color and style of your dress. Generally, you'll want to pick out your dress before you pick out the shoes you want to wear with it. When you choose shoes, keep in mind that they need to be comfortable enough to walk and dance in all night.
- The way your shoes look is even more important if you wear a short dress since your shoes will actually be seen.
- Don't be afraid to go for flats, but make sure that the flats you choose are classy enough to work with a semi-formal dress.
- As a word to the wise, if you go for heels, choose low heels. Most girls can manage an evening in low heels, even if she has limited experience with such shoes. On the other hand, extremely high heels can be an accident waiting to happen.
Get the right jewelry.
A little bling can transform your prom look from “nice” to “outstanding.” This is your chance to really glam yourself up, but make sure that the jewelry you pick out complements your dress instead of competing with it for attention.
- Simple, elegant jewelry is usually recommended over flashy pieces. Look for clear gems like cubic zirconia or timeless options like pearls. Avoid pieces with color.
- Try not to get too carried away. A flashy necklace, huge earrings, multiple rings, and heavy bracelets on both wrists can be overkill. Pick one piece to focus on—usually either the earrings or necklace—and choose a couple of other smaller pieces that match the general style of that focal piece without being quite as extravagant.
Consider carrying a clutch.
You may have a few items that you want to carry with you, like your cell phone or compact. The best way to go about bringing these things is to find an elegant clutch purse that works with the color and style of your dress.
- If you don't want to carry a clutch, though, you might be able to persuade your date to carry your phone and extra supplies in his pockets. Just make sure that this is okay with him before you take that option.
Ask yourself if you need a shrug.
For the most part, you may not need a shrug or sweater. Most proms take place during warm weather, and even if the temperatures are still a bit chilly, the temperature inside your prom venue will probably be warm enough. Still, if you get cold easily, it may not hurt to look for a sophisticated little shrug or wrap to drape across your shoulders.
- Around prom season, you'll usually 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.
Keep the corsage in mind.
Your prom date is responsible for buying your corsage, but you should talk it over with him beforehand so that he picks out something suitable. Also keep in mind that you'll need to buy him his boutonniere, and ideally, the two pieces should coordinate with each other.
- Your corsage should complement the color of your dress but it should not be the same exact shade. Also, try to make sure that the corsage and boutonniere match each other in terms of color, flower choice, and overall style.
Part 2 Additional Details on the Prom Dress (Girls)
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. If you automatically gravitate toward styles that are modest and classy, this probably won't be an issue for you. On the other hand, if you tend to be someone who likes showing off a lot of skin, you should check into the dress code restrictions to find out what your school will let you get away with.
- Prom dresses can either be long or short. If going for a long dress, make sure that the hem works for your height. If opting for a short dress, go for one that is no shorter than mid-thigh length. Any hemline shorter than that tends to drain all sense of elegance out of a dress.
Choose colors that flatter your skin tone.
 When all is said and done, you can choose any color prom dress you want. If you really want to look stunning, though, consider narrowing your choices down to a color palette that flatters your skin tone best.
- If you have a "winter complexion," you have pale white, yellowish-olive, or dark skin with blue or pink undertones. You may also have brown hair and dark eyes. Look for dresses with sharp colors, and opt for options like black, navy blue, red, and pink. If lighter colors are your thing, look at icy tones instead of pastels. Avoid beige, orange, and gold.
- If you have a "summer complexion," you have pale pink skin with blue or pink undertones. You may also have blonde or light brown hair and pale eyes. Look for pastel colors and soft neutral colors with rose or blue undertones. Consider dresses that are lavender, plum, rose-brown, or soft blue, but avoid black and orange.
- If you have an "autumn complexion," you have skin with a warm golden undertone. You may also have red or brown hair and golden-brown eyes. Look for colors with similarly golden undertones, including camel, beige, orange, gold, and dark brown. Avoid blue tones, like navy.
- If you have a "spring complexion," your skin is creamy white or peach with golden undertones. You may have straw-colored or strawberry-red hair, as well as blue or green eyes, freckles, and rosy cheeks. Warm colors like camel, peach, golden yellow, and golden brown are your friends, but dark or dull colors should be avoided.
Look at dresses that work for your body type.
As with color, the cut and style of dress you choose is ultimately your choice. Certain styles do tend to flatter some body types more than others. However, girls of all body types can find a cut that looks great.
- If you have a pear shape, your upper body tends to be smaller while your hips are a little more shapely. Show off your tiny waist with a fitted top and balance out your curves with an A-line skirt.
- For a straight, slim figure, create the illusion of curves by drawing attention to the waist with a wrap dress or belted dress. You could also draw attention to the bust line with a deep v-neck, or opt for a dress that bells out at the bottom.
- If you have an inverted triangle shape, you tend to be a little bustier than most girls. Make sure that the dress you choose offers a decent amount of support up top, and balance out your curves by drawing the eye to the waist or the lower hemline.
- If you have an hourglass figure, both your bust and hips are curvy and your waist is notably smaller. You have a lot of options to work with, but since you are blessed with a naturally well-proportioned figure, you should try to avoid dresses that place too much emphasis on either the top or bottom of the dress.
- If you have an apple shape, your midsection tends to be a bit on the wider side. Dresses with an empire waist are great at drawing the attention to the skinniest part of your waist while masking the wider areas.
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.
- In addition to being physically comfortable, you also want to be mentally comfortable. If you think you'll be dancing a lot, you might want to consider an option that has wide straps capable of holding the top in place.
Part 3 Guys
Decide between a tuxedo jacket and a dark 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 at this stage of your life, you'll likely only use this piece once.
- At the rental place, let them know that you are looking for something with a modern fit.
- Go with a plain black jacket, regardless of whether you use a tuxedo or a suit.
- The jacket should either have a peaked lapel or a shawl collar, and the lapels can either be faced in black satin or in the same fabric as the rest of the jacket.
- Also make sure that the jacket has a buttonhole for you to place the boutonniere in.
Match your trousers.
You need to wear dress trousers that match your jacket perfectly. In other words, your trousers need to be in the same shade of black and made from the same material as your jacket.
- Ideally, if you are going with a tuxedo, the trousers will have a satin stripe down the outside of each leg.
- Formal trousers are traditionally held up with suspenders instead of belts.
Choose the right type of shirt.
 Essentially, what you need is 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 aren't sure which you prefer, try both on and figure it out from there.
- Also take cuff style into consideration. Barrel cuffs are simple and usually found on just about any buttoned dress shirt. French what to wear over formal dress to keep warm cuffs are a little more fancy.
- For your collar, you have the normal lay-down collar type, or you could go with a wing tipped option. The latter has stiff, elevated types. If you aren't sure about which looks best, ask for advice at the rental shop.
Wear a tie.
For prom, go with a bow tie instead of a long tie. Opt for a standard bow tie and, unless you are especially clumsy with your fingers, go for a tie that you have to tie yourself instead of using a clip-on version.
- Regarding color, the safest bet is always black. If you know what your date's dress will look like, though, you might be able to pull off a tie in a coordinating color.
Wear the right shoes.
Any plain black dress shoes should work for prom. If you own some already, get them cleaned and shined and simply stick with those.
- You could rent formal black pumps at a tuxedo rental store, but you'll never know how stiff these shoes are, and really stiff shoes that have never been broken in can be very uncomfortable after a night of standing or dancing.
Pick out a vest or cummerbund.
The most traditional option is a simple black satin cummerbund, but if you want something a little less formal, you could also opt for a black satin vest. Pick one or the other, though.
- If you are a little more daring, you might be able to pull off a cummerbund in a color other than black. If you go this route, though, choose a somber color over a bright one and make sure that it coordinates with your date's dress.
- Avoid colored vests.
Consider which accents to use.
If you have all of the items already mentioned, you're basically already set. There are a few additional accents you may want to consider if you really want to take your look over the top, though.
- Choose the right shirt studs and cufflinks. The shirt studs and cufflinks should either match each other or complement each other. Avoid mixing silver and gold metals.
- Also consider wearing a pocket square. Pick out something that will match your personality while remaining classy, and make sure that the color and material complement your date's dress instead of clashing with it. If all else fails, though, a plain white pocket square is a safe choice.
Keep the boutonniere in mind.
Your prom date will be responsible for picking out your boutonniere, but you might want to talk things over with her first to make sure that the two of you can find something suitable. Also note that while she's buying your boutonniere, you'll need to pick out her corsage.
- Both the boutonniere and corsage should match in color and style. Make sure that you and your date pick out pieces that use similar flowers and designs.
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