Guidelines for prom from The Mycenaean’s resident fashion guru


Quick! Take a look at what you are wearing to prom. Or, if you’ve procrastinated (Grace Harvey!), think about what you plan on wearing. Every year, when going to a dance, I see the same horrifying mistakes on the dance floor, and I’m not just  talking about your dance moves, boys and girls.  Follow these guidelines for a tasteful prom experience:

Orange glow is for hardwood flooring only
Step away from the tanning bed, my little orange friend. So you aren’t as bronze as a Victoria’s Secret model. Who cares? Prom takes place on the ninth of April. It doesn’t even make sense to look “tan” in the beginning of spring, and nobody wants an orange prom date. Get over it, fake-baker—you are white. End of story. Take the opportunity to embrace your natural skin color (or lack thereof), and wear colors that complement your skin tone. For example, if you are pale, skip the white and buttercup yellow dresses. Also avoid a black dress, or you’ll run the risk of looking a little “Edward Cullen.” Instead go for cornflower blues, emerald greens or royal purples—any color that accentuates your eyes. The risk of skin cancer and embarrassment isn’t worth it.

There is something to be said about good support, ladies.
What you wear under your dress sets the foundation for your entire prom experience. That being said, crudely tugging at an ill-fitting strapless bra is worse than smacking your gum while making a speech. Think about it! Your bra is the core of your overall appearance and behavior. You want to look beautiful and graceful, sitting with your date in a fancy restaurant before prom—not as if you should be busing tables at the Waffle House.  In fact, I am pretty sure an ill-fitting bra doesn’t really cut it there either. Then, once you get to prom, do you really want to fuss with all of that discomfort?  Dancing without a functional and supportive bra is like driving on the wrong side of the road without a seat-belt.  Please take some time to shop around and buy a bra that fits.

Be black and proud
Unless you are a retiree on a cruise ship or someone’s pimp, stay away from the white tux. Boys, you are at the prime of your youth! Something about a white tux reminds me of my great uncle who wore a little too much Old Spice and doled out lint-covered stale caramels on Halloween. You owe it to your date to look classy. Prom night is not the night for you to make a statement, and certainly not the night to be tacky. The only get-up worse than a white tux is a colored tux. All I can say about this unfortunate selection is “no.” Pull yourselves together, young men and wear the black tux—it can’t be much simpler than that.  

I don’t care if you were a star on the basketball court or that you really love those new kicks you bought at the store last Saturday. Unless you play for the NBA, athletic shoes must never be worn with a tux—ever. That also goes for Converses and Vans, dude. Suck it up, and wear the dress shoes. It’s only for one night and looking like a gentleman is worth it. If you are really trying to look “fresh,” why would you wear your everyday shoes anyway?

Leave something to the imagination
Remember that Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl? The tube top she was wearing was an accident waiting to happen, and so is an extremely low-cut dress. You’re dancing at the prom, not dating Hugh Hefner. There are ways to highlight your best features without brazenly exposing yourself to the world. Subtlety is much more attractive than revealing everything. Keep them guessing, ladies.  

Size and fit are two different things
Many formal dresses run smaller than your usual dress size. So if you are usually a size 6 and a size 10 fits you better, don’t worry about it. Make sure you can breathe in your dress. Prom dresses, especially those of a satin material, highlight everything—and I mean everything. You get the picture. If you do not feel comfortable in your dress, you probably don’t look too comfortable either. Make sure you fit your dress to your body shape. If you are pear-shaped, try a fitted top with an a-line or full skirt. If you are petite, try a shorter dress or a dress with an asymmetrical hem line. If you are more curvy or apple-shaped, empire waist dresses are your friends, and avoid busy, small prints (or you’ll risk looking somewhat like a quilt).

There you have it–a guide for looking presentable at prom. Do yourself a favor and try to look your best for a night of elegance. Although the experience of going to prom is the most important thing, it doesn’t hurt to look nice either.


  1. Excellent advice, Elizabeth, especially regarding size and fit. There is no sense squeezing into a size 2 if it makes you look like a sausage. I look forward to a follow-up article highlighting the best examples of your advice well taken. Keep up the good work!

    Mrs. Harvey


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.