While spring ushers in a multitude of festivities and celebrations, one great tradition is particularly beloved by high schoolers. That, of course, is prom.
Over its history, the annual celebration of juniors and seniors has become much more than a dance with some streamers hanging from the gym ceiling and a communal punch bowl. According to Seventeen magazine, the first reference to prom dates all the way back to 1894, when it was an event where teens gathered together to practice their social etiquette—of course, back then, it was referred to by its original formal name, the “promenade.” Now, prom is a springtime celebration to signal the end of another school year, see classmates clean up in some sparkly duds, and spend the night dancing with friends. We talked with local experts about fashion trends for prom dresses, tuxedos, hair and makeup, and they shared their favorite tips with us to help you have a stress-free—and ultimately super stylish—night at the prom. Happy dancing!
Where to Be
This year, as in years past, many lake-area high schools are taking their celebrations on the road. For students at Wayzata High School, the big night will be held on May 18 at International Market Square in downtown Minneapolis. Sue Iverson, the faculty advisor to the prom committee, says that students have been planning the event since January.
“The students have been so excited,” Iverson says. As tradition goes, junior students are in charge of planning the big night for the seniors. This year, Wayzata’s prom theme is Memories. Organizers say the were inspired by the hit Netflix film Kissing Booth, and plan to decorate with photos from their years together displayed around the ballroom, reminding them all of the special moments they’ve shared.
Minnetonka High School’s prom will be held on the top floor of the IDS Tower in downtown Minneapolis.
What to Wear
With so many options, it can be tough to narrow down exactly what to wear on the big day. For students choosing dresses, deciding on the color, cut and style can be daunting—especially when you’re trying to coordinate colors and styles with a date or a group of friends.
Teens who are looking for a fresh, contemporary look for their prom can stop by The Social Room in Wayzata. Kayla Moe, the lead consultant at The Social Room, says that helping teens find that special dress for prom night is something she looks forward to every year.
“I usually ask [clients] a simplified version of what we ask our bridesmaids,” Moe explains. Moe, who typically lends a hand to wedding parties, knows that finding the perfect prom dress is a big deal for teens. Where they go to school, whether or not they’ve been to prom before, and what styles they already have in mind all help Moe narrow down the options to find that dream dress. “Usually, I’ll grab a couple of dresses that I think they wouldn’t normally try on,” Moe says, to help clients think outside the box.
Styles for prom dresses are typically derivative of whatever is on trend for wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses in a given year. “Beading and lace are something that has trickled down from bridal gowns,” Moe says. “Open backs and slits in skirts are very popular this year,” she adds. Beaded bodices and two-piece ensembles are also on trend this season. And as far as color is concerned, Moe says that you can’t go wrong with classic shades of pink or flattering blush.
Moe notes that a lot of clients bring their moms to help them make the big decision, and the process often includes a few happy tears. As the perceived importance of the prom tradition has grown over the years, it can feel like a real coming-of-age moment for families. “Especially if it’s their first time going to prom,” Moe says, “it can be a magical moment. It’s kind of like a mini wedding day.”
Of course, not everyone wants a traditional prom dress—and not everyone wants to (or can afford to) spend big bucks on their look. Lots of local teens find beautiful—and often one-of-a-kind—dresses or ensembles at consignment shops like Wayzata’s Fashion Avenue.
“We don’t actually have ‘prom’ dresses,” says Fashion Avenue sales associate Fernanda Lopez. “We have nice dresses that have been bought for prom.” And many creative, design-minded clients have created their prom looks entirely from odds and ends they’ve collected at Fashion Avenue.
It’s also possible to pick up some designer pieces for a fraction of the price; some of Fashion Avenue’s biggest sellers are beauty editors across the country. “We have [them] sending in clothes from New York and Los Angeles,” Lopez explains. “You can buy brand-new items that have never been worn.”
How to Style
After the dress, hair and makeup complete a prom-goer’s look for the night. Leah Carlson is the owner of Lavish Salon in Wayzata, which hosts a handful of teens every prom season who want a professional touch on their final look. Carlson, calls prom season “high-energy days.” As far as hair trends go, Carlson says that braids, waves, and half-up, half-down styles are great ways to look sophisticated but still look young. “It’s supposed to be a very romantic look,” Carlson notes. “We’re not seeing as many severe updos anymore.”
Ashley Richards, a stylist at Mérite House of Beauty, agrees. For hair trends, “anything goes—that’s what makes it fun.” She suggests that prom clients arrive at the stylist’s chair with second-day unwashed hair (for better grip). “Pinterest is a great place to look at fun inspirational ideas for hair and makeup.” Stylist Charlie Ophoven agrees. “Ask for something you feel comfortable and confident in,” she says.
Makeup should also be fun and true-to-yourself, says Richards. “A natural face with a bold lip. Beautiful contouring with big lashes. Accented colors on the lids and lashes. It’s all beautiful and fun.”
Makeup stylist Jackie Tussing says, “My tip is to make sure the skin is prepped with proper products. Be sure to exfoliate and moisturize for a nice glow. And sometimes,” she adds, “less is more!”
No Dress? No Problem.
And don’t forget the guys! Formalwear specialist Kathy Johnston, from Plymouth’s The Foursome Fine Menswear, says, “Fit and color are very important this season. Most young men are looking for the newer, trimmer fits, especially in pants. Coats are shorter and being worn closer to the body.” And how about a bit of whimsy? Johnston adds, “Bow ties are all the rage.”
Johnston recommends that prom-goers wanting to order a suit or tux should “come in and order early,” even if you don’t know the color of your date’s outfit yet. “You can always get a tie and pocket square to match your date’s dress at a later date.”
The Social Room, which offers tuxedo rentals and purchases, also offers color matching for those trying to find the right hue.
Hair and makeup by Mérite House of Beauty and LivSkin MedSpa