Prom Dress Preapproval Pros and Cons

Prom Dress Codes have taken a sinister turn to oppression and threats to ban or remove students from the big event.  In an effort to avoid Prom night enforcement, when the student is turned away, schools have started an approval or preapproval process.

Prom DressTypical Prom Outfit Dress Code is:  Dresses cannot be too short, too low-cut, expose too much skin around the midriff or be inappropriately revealing.  And many schools are adding that student must wear the “correct” gender-specific formal wear.

Anyone else notice this seems to be directly limiting the females choice?  I guess I should ask, if anyone on the school board noticed, since it is their rules.

Here is a great photo article of Banned Prom Dresses.  Dress codes that state anything cannot be “too much” or “too anything” is subjective.  Students and parents alike are left to buy a dress (usually spending hundreds of dollars) and hope the female student is not turned away at the door, ruining Prom.  Some schools have implemented a preapproval process to reduce Prom dress code violations.

Pros for Prom Dress Preapproval

  • Dresses can be preapproved by submitting a photo – This allows the student to submit a photo of her dress of choice before purchasing the dress.
  • Notice is provided ahead of Prom for dresses that are not approved.  This will allow for minor alterations, or selection and submission of a new outfit.
  • Preapproval removes the Prom night fear of being turned away, or asked to leave in the middle of Prom.
  • Consistent rules applied to all of the submitted outfits (in theory).

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Homecoming Dress

Summer is coming to an end and it is time to go Back to School.  That means Homecoming is just around the corner.  Homecoming is the weekend where former alumni visit their High School or University.  There is a big sporting event against the local rival school, tailgating activities, and a DANCE!  It is the first big event of the school year, and really the only event that alumni participate in.

Ann Taylor dress

Ann Taylor dress

High School Homecoming dances tend to be semi-formal and far more casual that Prom. Meaning dresses that have a short or half length skirt.  Fabrics can be more casual, and simple jewelry.  Guys can wear dress slacks and a nice shirt, possibly with a tie.

College and University Homecoming dances may be formal attire, full length (long) dresses are worn.  Guys will definitely wear suits and possibly a tuxedo (at some posh schools).  Last year’s Prom dress can be a great option for this year’s college Homecoming formal.

One way to save money on a Homecoming dress is to buy a gown previously worn. Short Prom dresses are very popular, and perfect for Homecoming!    There are still many Prom dresses on eBay from last season, or borrow from a friend or family member (if that is an option).

Nordstrom sale dress

Nordstrom sale dress

If this is your first big dance, here are a few shopping tips.  Stores start stocking Homecoming and Holiday dresses 2-3 months before the event.  Some stores (like Nordstrom) run big summer sales, and you can score a dress on sale.  Retailers are so desperate for summer shoppers, dresses and clothes are often less expensive during summer.  Then stores raise the prices in October, which is right when most Homecoming events are held.

Buying a dress is very different than shopping for jeans.  This may be the first time shopping in Misses or Missy department, which is not the same sizing as Juniors.  Hold up the garment to make sure it is close to the right size, then take a couple sizes into the dressing room.

Remember you will probably eat before the dance, so make sure you can comfortably sit and eat in your dress. If this is your first dance, consider flats or low heels – your feet will thank you.  Most importantly, have fun!


Prom Dress – wear it again

I loved my Senior year Prom dress!  It was red statin, strapless sweetheart neckline, with a front slit.  It fit me perfectly and looked amazing.  After prom, I kept it in my closet even though I “knew” I would never wear it again.  Boy, was I wrong!

Prom Dress Tips to Wear it Again

My freshman year at University I was invited to Homecoming Fraternity Formal with friends.  I needed a fabulous formal gown, but I was a broke college student and did not have any extra money for a formal dress.  I wore my beautiful red prom dress to Homecoming.  I already had the shoes and accessories to match.  No one from my High School was there, so it was new to everyone else.  I spent zero money on a fun night out with friends.  My prom dress became a two-fer (two wearings for the price of one) dress at that Homecoming!

Still not able to part with my gorgeous gown, back to my closet it went.  Then, Christmas rolled around and I was invited to a couple Holiday parties.  I was able to splurge on a short faux fur jacket and then wore my festive red dress to the fanciest party.  I accessorized my dress with a pair of black heels and black bag that I already owned, which gave me a completely different outfit.

A few tips when buying a dress to ensure that you will be able to wear it again:

  1. Classic styles have a long shelf life. Avoid super trendy colors or cuts that will prevent ever being able to wear the dress again.
  2. Pay attention to the fabric. My Senior prom dress was a light weight satin and could be worn year round, just add a tights or pantyhose and a jacket for winter.  A dress from my Junior year was velvet and I only wore it once (as a holiday formal) because it was so hot.
  3. High quality garment that will still look good after multiple times being washed/dry cleaned.
  4. Mix and match shoes, purse, jewelry, hair style, jackets/wraps, and other accessories to give you a unique look for the same dress. This will keep you loving your gown and feel like a new outfit each time.
  5. Avoid messy foods that will stain or damage your dress. Apply cold water immediately on spots, know these tips to get the stains out, and wash or professionally dry clean after each wearing.

Immediately after Prom, or a couple years later, I could have sold my prom dress.  I was able to save more money wearing that dress a few more times, than I could have sold it for.  During High School and college, I loaned a couple of my dresses to friends attending a function at a different school.  We were frugal and looked great doing it!

A former customer loved her prom dress so much, she was looking for suggestions to wear it again for her wedding!  Your Prom dress can be worn multiple times, upcycled into a different garment, used as part of your Halloween costume, or loaned/sold to someone else to enjoy.  Whatever you decide, your gown does not have to be a wear it once item.

Simple Tips to Upcycle Your Prom Dress

Prom season is here!  Check out these helpful hints for buying your Prom Dress.

Simple Tips to Upcycle Your Prom DressAfter Prom, you may consider selling your Prom dress while the style is still current and to make room in your closet for other things.  Or, you may just not want to part with your beautiful frock – so Upcycle it!  You can repurpose your dress into another fabulous outfit.

A former client loved her Prom dress enough that she upcycled it into her wedding gown!  Try different fabric spray paints (continuous spray are better than pump) or dyes for a totally different color or pattern.

A hem transforms a long dress into a semi-formal cocktail dress or skirt, like this example from New Dress a Day.

Keep the skirt and ditch the top, another New Dress a Day example with instructions here.

Or, maybe you are just not ready to drastically alter your dress – accessorize it for other events!
Pexels_dress1Get a little inspiration from your favorite store for layering options.  Lace tops over strapless dresses offer a more casual look.  Or, try a sheer tee shirt over your dress.  Switch up the top from your favorite full skirt!

Add a jacket or cardigan sweater.  Try your dress with various belts or a coordinating scarf.

Experiment with different items in your closet.  It is amazing how many different ways your Prom dress, or any special occasion dress, can be worn!

Prom Dress Shopping Tips

Top 10 Prom Dress Shopping TipsShopping for a Prom dress can be exciting, frustrating, scary, and for many girls – depressing.  Here are a few tips to help have a fun and easy shopping adventure for your perfect outfit.

  1. For widest selection of dresses, sizes, and colors, shop before the weekend.  Most stores restock during the week and the store may sell out of your size/color/style on Saturday and Sunday.  If you find a great little boutique, be sure to ask them when they are getting more dresses and if they will tell you any details about the order.  There also may be new markdowns on dresses that are already in store when the “new” batch of dresses arrive.
  2. Know your budget.  Give the sales girl a range of what you want to spend, but know what your absolute maximum (including tax) amount is.  No dress will ever compare to the gorgeous twice-your-budget dress that you know you cannot afford – so do not try it on.  It will only make finding YOUR dress that much harder.
  3. During the week the stores are less crowded and the sales staff can provide extra attention.  Be sure to tell them what kind of dress and color preference you are looking for, then they can save you time by pulling the best matches in the store.
  4. Know the difference between Junior and Misses sizes.  What sizing is the dress?  Is this the correct fit for you?  Sales staff should be able to help you determine your size and what dresses will fit you.  Remember, dress sizes are not standard, meaning that one dress may fit perfectly and the same size dress of another brand could be too big or small.
  5. Try on different styles.  Try on short dresses, long gowns, solid and print patterns, single strap, halter, and others to find out what looks great on you. Let the sales staff pick a few dresses for you.  You might find a dress that you love, one that you would not select for yourself.  Be adventurous, but remember that you you need to be able to sit and breathe in your entire outfit.
  6. Try on the entire outfit as you would wear it.  Do not just slip the dress on over your jeans or shorts!  Putting on a dress or outfit over your clothes will cause your butt to look lumpy, tops to be too tight, and result in distractions.  Make sure the dress will zip up, and it is an overall good fit.
  7. The big-box stores like Dillard’s and Macy’s stock the same dresses in all of their stores.  If you find one that you like but it is not the right color, size, etc, then ask the store to call around at another location to find the one you want.  You may even be able to go on their website and order the exact color & style – just be sure that you have already tried it on or something similar to avoid a last minute dress emergency!
  8. Since the big-box store carry so many of the dresses this can lead to many other girls wearing the same style dress as you.  Many specialty boutiques offer a dress registry, where they track what dress style and color were purchased for your school.
  9. Bring a few different bras with you to try on dresses.  A strapless bra can make a huge difference for fit and comfort.  They are often different levels of padding so be sure to try on your dress with the bra that you plan to wear.  A strapless bra with clear straps provides great support and can be worn with a variety of dress styles.
  10. Bring at least one pair of dress shoes with you.  A pair of flats or low heels, medium heels, and high heels will help to complete the look.  Even if these are not the exact shoes that you will wear, the heel height can help determine if you will need a hem or the dress is too short.

Have fun, relax, and be bold!