When it comes to looking for the perfect prom dress and trying to figure out how to find the right gown for you, it's just another decision heaped onto your plate at a time when you're already dealing with a bunch of stressful stuff. Besides all of the regular end-of-the-school-year woes, like worrying about finals, college applications, and your extracurriculars, there are probably all kinds of other things going on in your head that are causing you stress.
Prom itself can be an exercise in anxiety: There's a lot of focus put upon how much money your family can afford to spend and what you're wearing and who you're going with and how you'll get there. So with everything else going on in your life right now, shouldn't going to a big party be the fun part?
While a single dress or a night at prom isn't going to change your life, no matter how many iconic cinematic prom moments you watch, having a non-traditional prom dress (something vintage, something "for the boys," something co-ord-y) can be a good solution to a bunch of the frustrations that shopping for a prom dress can induce. Prom isn't the biggest moment of your whole life, but it can definitely be a special part of your memories and can give you stories to tell for years to come — whether it was a magical night or an "Oh My God, I Can't Believe I Survived That" disaster or even completely lackluster. As with most moments in life, I feel like you should at least go into it wearing something you love.
Here's why that dress should be a non-traditional one:
1. You Have Way More Options
Especially if you're plus-size, petite, or tall, not relying on the racks that are set aside for prom dresses is going to open up your options so much more. I mean, how many prom dresses get made every year? How many other kinds of dresses get made every year? Right. If you are looking beyond what's classified as a "prom dress" — or even look past dresses into two-piece outfits, tuxes, suits, etc., there will be a whole new world of options opened up to you.
2. You're Less Likely To Show Up In The Same Dress As Someone Else
It's not the end of the world to show up in the same dress as someone else! However, you're compared and made to be competitive with your classmates enough already, aren't you? Showing up in a unique dress can avoid bad feelings all around and make you stand out in your own way.
3. You'll Be More Comfortable
Whether "comfortable" to you means wearing a corseted dress that's totally your style and makes you feel the most like yourself, or you pick a dress that has pockets or an elastic waistband for literal comfort, non-traditional dresses have these qualities in spades. It's totally possible to look and feel like yourself in sparkly taffeta, but not everyone will.
4. You'll Probably Save Money
Just like how putting the word "wedding" in front of the words cake, flowers, or dress can jack up the cost, prom dresses are priced to cost as much as they think you'll pay for the special occasion. Picking a "normal" dress is an easy way to save a few bucks. Buying something vintage can save you even more money and give you a similar look to what's in stores right now or a completely unique look.
5. You Can Pick A Dress That's Not Just Pretty, But Interesting
Whether it's re-purposing a family member's vintage wedding dress, getting something custom made, scoring a great vintage find, stumbling upon the perfect dress on a trip, or getting the perfect dress in an unexpected place, your dress won't just be pretty, but it will have a story attached to it, too. The prom dress I'd originally picked out for myself was a pretty white maternity dress that had a gorgeous empire cut that I hadn't been able to find in any other store!
6. There's A Good Chance You Will Actually Wear It Again
Unlike Katherine Heigl's character in 27 Dresses, you will probably wear a non-traditional outfit again. Whether it's something suited for cosplay, a two-piece that you can wear as separates, or something meant for everyday or evening wear, it's probably more versatile than a floor-length shimmery gown with cutouts.
7. YOPO: You Only Prom Once
Okay, well you might actually prom twice, but the advice still stands. Forget what you feel like you're supposed to wear and go for what you really want to wear. When you picture yourself feeling confident and having fun, what are you wearing? Then wear that. Whether you're concerned it's too outlandish or "not for prom," screw it! In the words of Mindy Kaling, "I’d rather look back at photos of myself and say: 'Holy shit, why did I wear that fringed suede vest? I look like Shaggy from Scooby Doo,' than, 'Oh superb, I always looked perfectly acceptable my whole life. Time to die now.'"
Images: Flickr/Amandine_Adrien; Giphy