Don’t panic... As the school prom season approaches, Stephanie Smith has advice for this season’s young queens and princesses.
Those of us who are too old to have experienced a school prom ought to be forgiven for feeling that we really have missed out on something rather special.
The modern school prom is a seriously glamorous business, far exceeding the old-school disco of “back in the day”, when we rocked up to the assembly hall wearing a slightly smarter version of our weekend clothes, sucking mints to conceal the aroma of cider recently consumed as a gang behind the nearby Scout hut.
I dressed up more than most for my school disco, happy to live up to a reputation for eccentric fashion choices, and wore a black and tartan mini crini dress with laced ankle boots.
I didn’t realise, until my name was called out for second place, that there were prizes for those who had chosen to come in fancy dress. I hadn’t chosen to come in fancy dress, although this detail was lost on all of the teachers, and most of my peers. Sigh.
Still, how wonderful - and daunting - it must be to dress up for a school prom, 2015-style. It does seem unfair that exam revision leaves so little time for proper planning, not to mention shopping, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.
It means you have to think quick and clever, and not waste too much time agonising.
The prom season starts in May and runs through until July, in the main, so there is still plenty time to buy online (indeed, I suggest online fashion browsing as a revision break activity - maximum 15 minutes).
Take a look at ASOS.com, which is really easy to filter, and has a video of the items being worn on the white ASOS catwalk, so you can see exactly how it fits, drapes and moves. Normal delivery is within three to four working days, and there is so much to choose from, including ASOS own brand and lots of other High Street and more niche labels. If vintage is your style, or might be, try the HouseofFoxy.com for some beautiful dresses - 30s and 50s inspired styles would work especially well.
Some girls spend hundreds and more on their dress (BCBG at Harvey Nichols is good), but it’s really not necessary.
Coast has a great range for around £150-£200, while River Island, Miss Selfridge, Topshop and other High Street stores have really stepped up in recent seasons, with plenty to choose from at varying prices, so it’s easy to put together your own look for not too much money.
I know lots of mums and nanas/grans these days like to help by looking out for dresses, and why not, if the youngsters in question don’t mind, but do be careful not to dint their confidence by making overly figure-flattering suggestions. If you can’t wear exactly what you want to a big party when you’re 16, when can you? Just make sure they’re getting home safely.
Don’t worry about someone else wearing the same dress, it’s fine, pack a gorgeous pashmina if you like. And wear shoes you can dance in all night.
First rule of prom dressing: there are no rules, within reason. You can ignore fashion trends, wear last season, vintage and retro, long, short or midi, whatever you like, as long as it’s fabulous.
That said, dresses in whites, creams, nudes and pale pinks in chiffony, floaty fabrics are very popular, so be aware of this if you want to stand out.
You don’t have to wear a dress - think about a ball skirt instead, like the one above, which you can team with a contrast colour top or same, so it looks like a dress. It’s another way to stand out.
Pink embellished tulle dress, £75, at River Island (Proms 3)
Nude maxi dress from a selection at Miss Seldfridge (Proms 1)
Lydia full skirt dress, Coast, £185 (Proms 5).