25 Prom Dresses Perfect For People Who Hate Prom Dresses, Because Some Of Us Just Aren't Made For Flounce And Sparkles
The trick to finding the perfect prom dress is forgetting everything you think it *should* look like and making your own rules. Throw away tired stereotypes of pink fluffy cupcake skirts, crazy complicated straps, excessive sparkles, and pageant-worthy ruffles — unless that's your thing, in which case you should absolutely go for it. But if the thought of wearing a bejeweled pink gown to the floor with matching shoes and an updo makes you nauseous, fear not. Your prom should be an excuse to buy a dress that you genuinely love and might not otherwise be able to justify. It should be totally you, comfortable, and make you feel like a princess — even if your idea of a princess is more Kristen Stewart on the red carpet than Cinderella.
These 25 picks are a little less than traditional, but still completely prom-worthy. From pretty minis and modern maxis to unexpected separates or even pants, your perfect prom look is out there if you're ready to step outside the box.
The Understated Stunner
Finally, a floor-length dress that doesn’t feel like you’re playing dress up in your mom’s closet! Flattering slits and a contemporary high neck keep this solid piece interesting — and anything but typical.
Stone Cold Fox Owen Dress, $450, Urban Outfitters
The Twist On Tradish
Yes, that’s a sweetheart neckline, and yes, that’s a full skirt. However, this all-black number features smart details and a mini cut to keep things out of Barbie territory.
Wheels and Dollaby Gigi Satin Dress, $495, Nasty Gal
The Non-Cutesy Pastel
Who said baby blue and lace had to be cutesy? This asymmetrical draped dress is totally grown up with a hint of fairy princess nostalgia.
Zimmerman Seer Drape Dress, $995, Revolve Clothing
The Elegant Jumpsuit
You can totally wear pants to prom. Or, in this case, a jumpsuit. Not only will you feel free to dance and pose all over without any wardrobe malfunctions, but you’ll look feminine, contemporary, and super sleek while doing so.
L’Agence Wide-Leg Halter Jumpsuit, $480, Barneys New York
The Boho Two-Piece
AKA the “dressed up Coachella” ensemble. This is like something you’d love to wear on the daily, but is fancy enough to pull off for prom. Just maybe keep the flower crown at home so you don’t look too festival-y.
For Love & Lemons Luau Set, $387, Free People
The Modern Flip
This dress is flippy and and girly, but unexpected white leather and subtle studded trims render this way more rocker babe than flouncy baby doll.
Parker Rune Dress, $594, Bloomingdales
The Scarlet Lacer
A sheer top, cap sleeves, and intricate embroidery up top perfectly balance a classic skirt. This red is timeless, and will totally pop in your photos.
Petite Skater Dress with Lace Trim, $99, ASOS
The Wear-Again (And Again)
This might seem a little casual for prom, but a perfect fit and the right accessories can easily elevate a simple dress with a smart cut. Plus, you’ll get at least a few wears out of it once the big night’s over.
Finders Keepers Fatal Attraction Cutaway Dress, $158, Nasty Gal
The Contemporary Daisy Buchanan
Intricate beading and just the right amount of sparkle lend this shift some 1920’s glamour while still feeling fresh. Dress this one down after prom with some little biker boots.
Night Breeze Beaded Shift, $400, Free People
The Dreamy Watercolor
Get your pretty, soft, silky fix without all the typical prom puffiness. This Ted Baker number fits the bill with a beautiful print, elegant details, and timeless cut.
Ted Baker Skater Dress in Blooms of Enchantment Print, $288, ASOS
The "Byeee, I'm Off To Art School"
Unusual color blocking and a crisp cut means you’ll stand out from the crowd in all the best ways.
Asilio Fracture Fit-And-Flare Dress, $275, Nasty Gal
The Secret Romper
I never knew a romper-meets-sheer-maxi could look so chic. Start practicing your Angelina Jolie leg pose now.
BCBGeneration, $108, Bloomingdales
The Cool Girl Lace
Who says Prom Queens can’t wear black?
Saylor Jessa Foil Lace Dress, $250, Free People
The 2015 Bianca Stratford
You know Bianca’s 10 Things I Hate About You pink crop top/ ballerina skirt combo? Of course you do. This is like that, but way more sophisticated and way less 1999.
AQUA Faux Two-Piece with Train, $228, Bloomingdales
The Biker Beauty
Not your average LBD, this dress features lace and leather accents for a little edge.
Nix Dress, $268, All Saints
The Low Key Grecian
Ballet pink and a midi hemline keep this drapey piece more current than toga.
Zimmerman Tuck Dress, $420, Revolve Clothing
The Architectural Color Block
This dress is all about details and construction, and so flattering without having to scream for attention.
3.1 Phillip Lim Judo Cutout Crepe Mini Dress, $695, Net-A-Porter
Rich jewel tones will never not look good. This silhouette is super elegant in its simplicity.
MILLY Silk Crepe Tank Dress, $375, Revolve Clothing
The Unexpected Statement
The Bold Mesh
A little sporty and undeniably cool, this Alexander Wang dress is nothing like you’ve seen on the dance floor of a high school gym.
Bi Color Mesh Tee Dress, $925, Alexander Wang
The Micro Print
Add some delicate jewelry and a simple corsage, and you’ll be good to go.
Shona Joy Theory Scarf Dress, $286, Revolve Clothing
The Sweet Structured Mini
This understated mini takes some cues from prom tradition while remaining completely modern.
Origami Rose Bandeau Dress, $100, Topshop
The Space Princess
Not only is this totally twirl-worthy, but it’s a perfect space station metallic and has an unexpected racerback.
Tevin Racer Back Party Dress, $368, Alice and Olivia
The LBR (Little Black Romper)
I really wish rompers had been trendy when I went to prom. This dressed up take on the spring/summer staple is just the right balance of playful, sexy, and dressy. Amp up a piece like this up with eye-catching accessories.
Cut-Out Playsuit, $96, Topshop
The Bold Floral
This effortless wrap dress is breezy, beautiful, and, like all Reformation pieces, eco friendly! Win-win.
Gisele Dress, $328, Reformation