Prom is something that gets idealized in our minds. With it come some costly traditions that seem a like imperatives...but I want to challenge a few of those. First we want to take a moment to consider what it is we really desire from prom. Do we want a ride in a limo, an expensive dress + a fancy meal? Or is what we're really after a fantastically fun + memorable time with good friends full of laughter + to feel like a beautiful version of our true selves?
I'm going to move forward in the state of mind of someone who chose the second set of desires. :) So a few thoughts:
#1: Be you! Let your style shine. That doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be an extrovert. Introverts often have well thought out style. So...if you want to wear Doc Martins or Converse to prom...do it! If you want to wear a velvet pant suit or...a t-shirt with a tulle skirt or...whatever makes you feel most like you...go for it! Have fun!
#2: Keep comfort in mind. I know I sound like a mama, but it comes from experience, strapless dresses need constant tending + sky-high heels are painful. Just sayin'. ;)
#3: Dare to be different in all the best ways. Prom doesn't have to cost the earth or an arm + a leg. The traditional stuff might seem like a right of passage, but it doesn't always (or usually) live up to the hype or make the most headway toward the ultimate goals above.
-This is just my opinion...but I think that secondhand is often more interesting than what can be found at the mall...and no one else will be wearing the same dress. Plus it's the most ethical choice + often cheaper. Special occasion wear isn't usually worn very often, so pre-owned pieces can often be found in good/great condition.
-Raid someone else's closet (with permission, of course). Do a Pretty in Pink + alter it. Old prom dresses or bride's maid dresses might be offered up to you + often offer a lot of fabric, if not style. :) Maybe you could even organize a swap event.
-Try local thrift/consignment shops. Keep in mind that you can shorten a dress, remove sleeves, or tailor it (tailoring works best if the dress is a bit too big...not if it's too small).
-Consider making your dress, if you or someone you know sews. I was able to make my own dress exactly how I wanted it + saved money too.
-Etsy- there are so many options that could be fun to make your own (a few are pictured). Check out other resale sites like: Tradesy, Poshmark, Depop, eBay or Instagram. (Pay close attention to measurements.)
-Find inspiration...Gatsby's Daisy, Frida Kahlo flowers in your hair, Sharon Stone's 1996 (without the jacket) + 1998 Oscar looks, Audrey Hepburn, Diane Keaton... (I like these classic looks, because the photos are less likely to haunt the future you.) ;)
-The first collection of pictures above is 1920s inspired. A handmade dress could get a little extra sparkle from an Etsy art deco beaded appliqué. A thrifted or new slip dress could take on a distinctly twenties vibe layered under an Etsy beaded tank + a beaded appliqué sewn onto a ribbon and worn as a hairband (check the craft store for supplies). It's great that these dresses could easily be worn with a tee or jean jacket for everyday + the tank could work with cut-offs or jeans.
-Use what you already have. You may already have a pair of shoes + jewelry that work well (or borrow/swap some).
-Consider pieces that can be worn again. The two dresses on the left (just above) could be worn more casually with sandals or sneakers (maybe bring the length of the center one up a bit) + a denim or army jacket.
-Constant adjustment is no fun...stitch in a couple of straps made from matching ribbon or some of the fabric left over from alterations, if desired. Too tight...too short...too low cut...too much work.
-Feel + look amazing + then forget about your clothes + have fun!!
Hair + make-up:
-Be you. You already know what make-up looks best. Do your own make-up + just use your favorite products. Do your own hair or let someone you trust help. The salon most often makes me feel like someone other than me + doesn't usually know how my hair works...so the style doesn't last. Natural is truly beautiful, approachable, cheaper, less work, less stressful + more dependable. :)
-A picnic- I know that getting all dressed up + going out to a nice restaurant sounds enticing + traditional...but something totally different could be amazing + memorable! A fire pit + a bag of marshmallows (stick the bag in the plastic recycling bin at the grocery store)...pizza boxes (recycle the tops/compost the bottoms) at the park with a bunch of friends all dressed up. (I felt super conspicuous walking into a restaurant full of normally dressed adults...all of us in our prom gear.)
-There is something appealing to me about the thought of going to a drive-up restaurant like Sonic or In-N-Out with a bunch of friends before prom + making a big happy scene around those picnic tables. Or bring a tablecloth + candles to Chipotle + make a memory. Laughter + silliness is probably more fun than serious conversation in a serious restaurant. (Yup, trash.)
-Parents are not the coolest thing about prom night, but I bet there are a lot of mamas + papas out there who would love to put on a cook-out or potluck dinner in the backyard for a bunch of their favorite people + to clean up afterward. Simple food + friends = perfection.
-Farm to table restaurant. It doesn't have to be the most expensive one.
-Riding bikes or skateboards could be super eco-cool + make for some awesome visuals!
-Embrace the ironic. Decorate your parents' minivan. Load it up with friends + have a ball. It's only a way to get around.
-Get your cool cousin to drive you. He can even pretend to be a Lyft driver, if it helps. :)
-Carpool, because friends are the best part!
-Limo or party bus, if that's the thing, but pack it full + spread the cost around.
Stay safe + sober. You'll want to remember this. Laugh until your face hurts. Be silly. Have fun + make memories with your beautiful friends! :)