With prom and formal season approaching quickly, I thought it would be helpful to share my hints for making the most of your night! I believe that the key to a successful formal or prom night is feeling amazing in what you’re wearing. When I was in high school, prom season was always a bit scary. I wanted the perfect dress, complimented by the best jewelry, a pretty hair style, and effortless, red carpet ready makeup.
After high school, formal events weren’t really on my radar. My college didn’t have greek life, so we didn’t have sorority formal, and we also didn’t have “formal” dances. Interestingly enough, law school has a prom type event. Last weekend was Barrister’s Ball, an annual event held at law schools in common law countries. It was a blast, and it was the first time I really dressed up since my sister’s wedding!
It was so fun to get all glam. My normal glam squad (aka my sister and mom) are all the way in CA. Luckily, my roommate helped me apply some fake tan (I use Josie Maran; I was wearing black and my skin hasn’t seen the sun since September). We went and got mani-pedis, and I got my makeup done at Ulta (more on that to come in a future post). Getting super fancy is so much fun, but sometimes its hard to know the right thing to wear for different functions. For example, there were a lot of mixed messages about how formal the Ball was supposed to be. Here are some examples of what my friends and I wore:
I have four commandments for formal wear that I want to share!
- Get a dress that you feel incredible in. Try on as many dresses as you need to until you find the one that makes you feel like Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn or your personal style icon. Loving the dress will mean you wear it more confidently.
- Treat yourself to the royal treatment. In preparation for a super formal event, I usually light candles, put on a great playlist, and wear my favorite robe around. I feel a little more glamorous, which makes the getting ready process more fun.
- Wear the makeup you want to wear. I think with formal wear there is pressure to really amp up your glam. If this is what you like, you should totally go for it! However, if you love subtle makeup, don’t be afraid to wear less. Or pull an Alicia Keys, and don’t wear any!
- Jewelry is like icing on a cake – too much can make you unhappy and too little can leave you wanting. I usually go less heavy on jewelry, especially as I get older. In high school, I wore bracelets, earrings, a necklace, etc. Now, I figure out what I think will most compliment the dress and myself in the dress. With the above look, I only wore large, fun earrings!
I think girls sometimes have it easier – I know, I know, don’t object yet – because there is such a plethora of input (go read Seventeen or Cosmo or any website), and you can easily figure out what is appropriate. However, menswear is a bit trickier. There isn’t the same amount of access to information for menswear that there is for women. Additionally, to be completely transparent, most men just ask their date what to wear. I don’t know about you, but when my dates would ask me, I would just give them a color (to match my dress), but leave out any real detail, or any real answer for that matter. Luckily, The Black Tux put together a detailed but quick cheat sheet for proper menswear for various events.
Next time your date for prom or formal asks what to wear, you can be more specific. Or, if you’re having a formal date night with your boyfriend, you can help him dress accordingly. For those of you with brothers, you can help him be fashionable and make the right choice for his next date/formal event. When I’m home, my dad usually asks my opinion on fashion related things. I do my best, but menswear isn’t my specialty. If you’re in a similar boat, this cheat sheet helps! Dressing well can be expensive, but an option I recommend (especially for prom or formal), is renting! Men can choose from a great selection of menswear to make them look their best.
Most guys and girls get into a bit of a rut in their everyday dress. However, with formal events girls at least have an opportunity to really mix it up. Guys, on the other hand, tend to stick to roughly two options (tux or tux). This guide from The Black Tux encourages a little more creativity, and gives specifics about what exactly should be worn according to what the dress code is. When you’re sure of the pieces you need, it’s easier to have the confidence to get more creative with what version of those pieces you select! For example, if you know you need a sport coat, trousers, and a button down, you may be more willing to pick a patterned button down because you’re no longer worrying about what kind of shirt to wear.
I hope you enjoyed this post!