By Leah Fletcher
The checklist for the upcoming prom season usually includes getting dress and tux colors coordinated, picking out corsages and ordering the limo. Some of the items on the list signal that proms have changed. The variations range from a simple event in a high school gym to an elaborate evening at a posh hotel, and sometimes from an elegant evening dinner cruise to an event at an aquarium.
“Whatever the evening venue, dressing for the event is still a sacred rite of the prom and there are a number of new formalwear trends for both the young ladies and men,” according to Life Sciences Coach, Lisa Phillips, who noted the trends are endless.
With so many options, selecting a prom outfit can become overwhelming. “There is the option to purchase formal wear or to have a dress or tux custom-made for the occasion,” said Phillips, who recalls designing and sewing her own high school prom dress, which she still saves as a keepsake.
Contemporary prom fashions for girls, Phillips pointed out, range from traditionally styled ball gowns to a contemporary two-piece dresses, which have cropped-styled tops, complimented with skirts that expose a hint of skin at the waistline.
For the young men, tuxes range in colors from blues to red. But there is still the traditional black color. “Suits and tuxedos differ. But more than the physical difference, it’s important to note that a tuxedo sends a different message than a suit does,” said Phillips, a retired teacher and experienced high school prom chaperone.
The prom commemorates a very special occasion for all students. “However, a prom tuxedo sends the message that a young man is wearing something specifically for this memorable occasion,” said Phillips, who explained that a tuxedo also “commemorates the event in a way that a suit can’t.”
Dressing for the Prom—Young Ladies
The Open Back dress: The backless dress stands at the front of the formal fashion line this season.
Designer Omar Jackson said, “It’s fun, it’s sexy, and those components usually result in a dress that is well-designed and elegant.”
The open back dress is displayed in styles that are deep v’s, have a totally open back or have more ornate strappy detail. The style is available in both long and short dresses.
Stylist tip: Jackson, a Philadelphia designer who designs nearly 25 prom dresses each season, said the details are in the dress. “When styling a dress with back detail, I advise my clients to wear their hair up because so it doesn’t hide the details on the dress.”
An important detail to consider, in Jackson’s opinion, is that a dress with back detail is usually less ornate in the front. “To highlight and accent the dress, pair it with statement earrings such as a beaded tassel or sparkling chandelier, which will add interest to the front, creating balance.”
The Mermaid Silhouette: For a classic and flattering shape for most body types, the mermaid style dress will accentuate curves. “So, if you have curves, this style will hug you in the right places, and for those with a minimal shape, the mermaid will create the illusion of curves,” said Jackson.
Stylist tip: Because the mermaid style dress can be difficult to maneuver in, make certain that you can walk and dance in it. And, also be sure the fit is exact. “You want this dress to hug a bit, not have extra fabric at the hips or in the stomach,” said Phillips, who also noted that an easy alteration will achieve a suitable fit and outcome.
Sparkle: A prom dress provides an opportunity for one to stand out. If you wear lots of sparkle, which is currently trending, you won’t have a hard time finding a dress with the brilliance and dazzle required for an enchanted evening, according to Phillips.
Stylist tip: “A sequined dress or gown will make quite a fashion statement, so consider a simple hairstyle, like a high-fashioned bun or sleek ponytail,” directed Phillips. She also suggested a light layer of makeup. For example, a combination of smoky eye and nude lip-gloss or a statement lip and a neutral eye is best.
Dressing for the Prom — Young Men
Color: This season color is significant. According to John Evans, a Wilmington, Delaware designer, menswear is mirroring red carpet and runway trends. Men are choosing bold blues, burgundys and even patterned suits and tuxedos. “The young men are making statements during their grand entrances. It’s not just the young ladies anymore,” said Evans.
Stylist tip: Besides coordinating your attire with a date’s dress, Evans noted the color or pattern chosen should flatter one’s hair, skin and eye coloring. “Your style statement should never say, “This is just wrong.”
Three-piece suit: Some men love a three-piece suit because it can be worn again and again. “It’s not just for prom,” according to Phillips. “It’s formal enough so it doesn’t look outrageous next to a sequined gown.” She advised, if possible, to make an investment in this style suit and, if you can purchase it, have it tailored to fit your measurements.
Stylist tip: Fit is absolutely imperative with a three-piece suit. You want a slim fit and no tugging on the vest buttons. “Have fun with your accessories. Pair a slim tie with your suit for a minimal sleek look or a bow tie for some charm and personality” Phillips advised.
Contrast: If the classic look is your preference, then tuxedo is your best choice this season. You can energize up your look with a style that has a contrasting lapel. For example, Evans noted that a white tux with a black lapel is classic, a little retro and very chic this season. He pointed out that while navy suits with black lapels have less contrast, they make a great stylistic impression.
Stylist tip: The contrast doesn’t always have to be color. Different textures, such as a flat black tuxedo with a black satin lapel, will provide a dash of style while you remain in your comfort zone, according to Evans.
Everyone will find a fitting style this prom season. Go shopping with friends, who can act as sounding boards and provide some necessary advice. “It’s always a good idea to try on some new styles together, but in the end, select the look that makes you feel perfect,” said Phillips. “You want to spend the evening having the time of your life, not being haunted by your wardrobe choice.”