The NYLON Guide To Prom Dressing

Not a poufy gown in sight

It’s officially prom season, which means if you haven’t already started planning what you’ll be donning to the big event, now is a good time to start. Well, in all fairness, yesterday was a good time to start, but, as master procrastinators ourselves, we're not judging.

Getting your look together for prom night can prove to be a stressful feat. First, the dress (or non-dress), then all the coordinating accessories. Of course, it's also essential to make sure it’s a look you’re not going to regret 10 years down the road; just think of all the photos that will end up on family members’ mantles. This is bound to be the biggest (and most documented) night of your high school career, so you definitely don’t want to look back at the photos one day and cringe.

To help you avoid all that future cringing, we put together a couple of no-fail looks for the cool girl that are anything but the classic beaded, poufy tulle gowns of your nightmares. We promise.

Below, our guide to five alternative—yet totally prom-appropriate—looks that will have you feeling like a queen whether you take home the tiara or not.

Who said you can’t wear resort to the prom? In our world, beachy-bohemian can definitely pass as formal. We love the look of an all-white draped jumpsuit paired with colorful, tropical-inspired accessories.

1. & Other Stories, Suede Fringe Sandalette, $125, available at & Other Stories; 2. Solace London, Selena Satin Jumpsuit, $480, available at Solace London; 3. Vanessa Mooney, The Astrid Knotted Tassel Earrings, $45, available at Vanessa Mooney; 4. Cult Gaia, Gaia’s Ark, $128, available at Cult Gaia.

Playing dress-up not your thing? Opt for something cool and casual, like a simple slip dress, for an understated look that’s still on the fancy side. Oh, and bonus points if you opt for shoes you can actually keep on once you hit the dance floor.

1. Young Frankk, Circle Earrings, $118, available at Need Supply Co.; 2. Everlane, The Pointed Slide, $145, available at Everlane; 3. Lily Ashwell, Gia Slip, $250, available at Lily Ashwell; 4. Loeffler Randall, Tassel Pouch, $195, available at Loeffler Randall.

I think we’re all well aware that pantsuits are here to stay—so why not wear one to prom and skip the typical dress? Rather than a classic solid tux, opt for a suit with a fun, poppy print to keep things interesting.

1. Claire Vivier, Flat Clutch, $185, available at Claire Vivier; 2. Wildfang, The Jacobson BF Blazer, $168, available at Wildfang; 3. Wildfang, The Ahmed Pant, $98, available at Wildfang; 4. Modern Weaving, Exclamation Earrings, $120, available at Modern Weaving; 5. ASOS, Missouri Fringed Brogues, $40, available at ASOS.

Just because it’s prom, doesn’t mean you can’t still channel your inner (and outer) goth. Swap out your combat boots for chunky, platform sandals and pair with a slinky black dress, and voila, formal witch.

1. Nissa, For Sheer Choker, $32, available at Nissa; 2. Bao Bao Issey Miyake, Prism Metallic Wristlet, $495, available at Bao Bao Issey Miyake; 3. Aritzia, Pascale Dress, $185, available at Aritzia; 4. Charles & Keith, Oversized Buckle Platforms, $59, available at Charles & Keith.

Good news: A classic prom look doesn’t have to involve crinoline or sequined beading. A cascading ruffle paired with hints of florals and metallics give off total romantic vibes and are formal enough without screaming “prom.”

1. Chan Luu, Gold-Plated Multi-Stone Choker, $215, available at Net-A-Porter; 2. Aldo, Daromara, $65, available at Aldo; 3. Topshop, Soft Ruffle Cold Shoulder Maxi Dress, $240, available at Topshop; 4. Lost Ink, Wide Fit Rose Gold Heeled Sandals, $64, available at ASOS.