High school students have been eagerly dressing up to dance the night away at prom for almost a century, which means that for almost a century teen girls have been shopping for (or making their own) absolutely gorgeous dresses.
There are a ton of ball gowns to choose from and, whether you are looking for something simple and streamlined or something that might make Cinderella do a double-take, somewhere out there is the perfect dress for you.
This hasn't always been the case. For decades retail establishments ignored the needs of Rubenesque women, leaving them to either sew their own dress or to buy and tailor a dress to meet their fashion needs. Thankfully today there are a multitude of stores, both online and brick-and-mortar, that are happy to help beautiful, full-figured young women find the gown of their dreams.
But how do you know which dress is right for you? There are a few things to consider before spending your hard-earned cash on a formal dress.
Focus on Fit
The most important part of finding a dress that works for you is to make sure it fits you properly. When you try the dress on you want to make certain it doesn't pull, sag, pucker, or droop. This means you need to move around in the dress before buying it, including sitting, bending, and dancing, to get a good idea of how the dress will fit on prom night.
If the dress droops or sags in places as you move around you may need to choose a smaller dress or have a tailor take in those parts of the garment. If it pulls, puckers, or pinches in places you will want to try on the next size up. Bring someone you trust shopping with you so they can let you know if it looks like the seams are really straining or if a dress that fits you perfectly while you are standing up suddenly becomes an explosion of cleavage when you're sitting down.
This may mean that you buy a dress that isn't your normal size. Given that there is little rhyme or reason in women's clothing sizes in the first place this shouldn't be difficult, but don't let the number on the tag tempt you or psych you out when you are choosing your dress.
If you are normally a size 16 don't be tempted to buy a dress just because the tag says it is a size 12 and don't refuse to buy a dress just because the tag says it is an 18. Nobody is going to see the number on that tag except for you, so it shouldn't have any impact on whether or not you choose a specific dress.
This also means you will want to be as precise as possible when trying on potential prom dresses. If you plan on wearing Spanx at the prom you should make sure you are wearing them when you are trying on dresses, but if you hate Spanx and won't wear them on the big night don't wear them when trying on your formal evening wear.
If you are going to wear high heels to the prom be sure to wear them when you are trying on dresses too, otherwise you might end up with something that is much shorter than you thought it was going to be once you put on your shoes.
Not a "Prom Dress"? Not a Problem!
Lots of people love it when something like prom comes along and gives them an excuse to buy an expensive, frilly gown, but don't let yourself be limited to that if it isn't your style. If you find the perfect ensemble in the spring clearance section of your favorite store don't let the fact that it isn't a floor-length gown stop you from rocking it on the dance floor.
Don't let the price bother you, either. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars just because it is prom night!
If dresses aren't your thing there are a ton of other options you can consider. Lots of amazing women have refused to wear dresses, choosing instead to wear slacks or even putting their own twist on traditional men's fashion.
As long as you are within the boundaries of your school's dress code for the event you should wear whatever makes you happy.
If You've Got It, Flaunt It
We all have things we love about ourselves. Some people really love their legs, others are proud of their gorgeous hair, etc. Whatever it is you like about your body, prom is the perfect time to accentuate it.
If you have fantastic hips you might want to choose a mermaid evening dress to highlight them, while women with perfect shoulders might choose a strapless gown instead. A ball gown is an amazing way to show off a gorgeous bosom and a halter top gown will draw attention to your muscular upper arms.
Your prom dress should make you feel exquisitely beautiful and the best way to do that is to play up your very best features. In 20 years you might look back on your choice of dress and cringe but you'll never feel bad about the most gorgeous parts of yourself! Make sure those prom night pictures capture all of the very best parts of you!
Choosing Your Shoes
Your shoes will have a much bigger impact on your look than you can imagine. A set of high heels can move a full length dress closer to tea length and a pair of flats can make an otherwise beautiful dress pool on the ground around your feet like a child playing dress-up if you aren't careful.
If you think you might be one of those people who ditch their high heels under the table halfway through the night you might consider wearing flats, sandals or kitten heels instead so you don't alter the look of your dress. If you are going to spend the whole evening on your tipoes trying to look tall in pictures you might consider just wearing a pair of 6 inch heels in the first place.
You might even decide to throw a pair of combat boots or chucks under your dress to give it a different look if that is more your style. If you know you are going to need wide width shoes or a relatively rare size do some research beforehand to make sure they will be available. If you have to special order something you will want to receive them long before prom so you have a chance to try them on and make sure they work for you before the big night.
Whatever shoes you choose, make sure they are sturdy, comfortable, and wear them (or something similar) when you are trying on your dress. Don't spend the evening wishing you'd worn different shoes instead of focusing on having fun!
There are some truly amazing plus-size prom dresses out there. A little bit of forethought can help make sure you choose the perfect dress for you.
What are your favorite looks for prom this year?