Time Ticking Down on Dress Hunt

Rachel Jin

With the junior prom less than 2 months away, many eager girls are already on the hunt for the perfect dress.

2 months may sound like a long time to the typical high school boy, whose formal attire responsibilities go little beyond a few minutes being sized up for a tux rental, but for the farer sex, a mere 60 days is “crunch time.”

The words “prom dress” evoke a Tumblr-esque image of a mint green, sweetheart-necked frock, bejeweled at the waist. However, with current trends changing faster than Kylie Jenner’s hair, less traditional styles are flooding the market.

With a myriad of dress destinations like PromGirl, Macy’s and Nordstrom providing a wide selection, narrowing down a style, let alone a particular dress, is a tall order.

I’ve never found stereotypical prom dresses to be my style. However, after 5 years of dinner parties, school dances, and other formal events, I like to think I have honed my “fancy” fashion skill set.

Here are some of my best styling tips for those anxious about finding just the right prom dress to make the night memorable for the right reasons.

1. Knowing your limitations

In fashion, there may be no limitations for the rich and famous, as evidenced by Lady Gaga’s meat dress; However, there are certain guidelines to keep in mind for the rest of us.

My number one rule when it comes to shopping for clothes is to know your body. Remember, especially when online shopping, that the model in the picture has a certain body type, is posed a certain way, spent 3 hours in hair and makeup, and has been retouched to appeal to consumers. I have often spotted a piece hanging on a rack that I had to have, only to try it on and realize that the back sags awkwardly or that the fit is unflattering. Something can look good on a staged picture, but you could end up being crushingly disappointed if you don’t take into consideration the differences between you and the model in the picture.

While I am a huge online shopper, trying on the dress in the changing room is the best way to go in this instance.

2. Know where to look

When I was in 7th grade, I had not yet established my personal style. Shops like Free People and Anthropologie market bohemian-style clothing, while Kate Spade and ASOS may have more minimalist pieces. That being said, the hunt for my banquet dress took longer than it probably should have, because I didn’t know that I was not the “preppy” type and spent a whole hour on the Vineyard Vines website scrolling through pages and pages of clothing that just wasn’t my style.

Don’t make that mistake. Find the brands that consistently hit your taste, and that way, dress-shopping for other events may not be so bad.

3. Explore

If you shop like me, often you will see a dress and do a double take (is that a dress on top of another dress?). Prom may feel like the kind of event where everything, including your dress, has to be perfect, but it could also be an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.

Try something you wouldn’t normally wear. If it looks good, you just discovered a new trend you might like. And if it doesn’t? Well, lesson learned.