How to Pick the Perfect Prom Dress

Julia Hampton

With prom just around the corner, figuring out how to pick the perfect prom dress may be preying on your mind. After all, you'll want to look fabulous for the big event of the school year. LoveToKnow Teens spoke with Julia Hampton, founder and CEO of Nu-U Image Consulting. Ms. Hampton shares with us her tips on how any teen can look like a celebrity on prom night!

Interview with Julia Hampton

Where Can Teens Spot Prom Trends?

Take cues from what we saw on the red carpet, magazines, and what you are seeing in the stores now to find some of the most sought after styles of the season.

Start out searching for your perfect dress by flipping through magazines and online to see what kind of dress you are most attracted to. Then hit the stores with an idea in mind of what you are looking for. Try on as many dresses as you can; your idea of the "perfect dress" may not be as well suited for you as another style. Don't limit yourself.

Which Length Dress is Best?

Short is the way to go in 2009! We have finally said goodbye to the traditional views that long gowns are the only way to go. Of course, long gowns and just below the knee can be amazing as well. Go for what looks best and forget the hemline. The key is what looks best on you and makes you feel special. If going short however, detail is key in order to keep it prom worthy, think lace, bows, sequins and ruffles.

How to Pick the Perfect Prom Dress

Some simple tips to remember are:

  • For a fuller figure, try an empire waist and a shorter hem. An empire waist will give you a long lean silhouette.
  • Hourglass or pear shape- (Small waist, full hips and bust). You can look great in most dresses out there. Dresses to flatter you most would be strapless dresses and dresses with a cinched waist and shorter hem.
  • Triangle-(Small on top and heavier bottom). Go for a longer bodice with full skirts to camouflage the hip area. Look for cinched waists and cap sleeves to create a more balanced look.
  • Inverted triangle- (Fuller on top)- Search for dresses with very simple necklines, no ruffles, bows or rouching on top that will only draw attention to that area. Create balance with a fuller skirt.
  • Thin and no curves- (Slender)- Create curves with a bubble hem or A-line dress. Look for detail on top, which will give the illusion of something more. You can also play up your attributes with a floor-length ball gown. Feel free to wear patterns and to choose whatever color suits you best.

Short- Shorter hemlines are the best. Look for mid-calf or mid-knee dresses that won't overtake your small frame. Small detail and solid colors are best so everyone sees you and not just the dress.

Is There a Style That Looks Good on Any Figure?

A sleeveless sheath dress that hits just at or below the knee should complement any figure.

How Do You Select the Right Bra?

Choosing the right bra is very important and can really make a difference in how your prom dress will fit. If you are small busted you may be able to get away without wearing a bra if your dress is not sheer or light in color. However, you should look into nipple covers or silicon pasties if you choose to go without; you can never be too careful.

If you are wearing a strapless or spaghetti strap dress, then opt for a strapless or bandeau bra. Look for one with boning in the cup to support your breasts and help keep it from falling down to your waist. Another thing that may be helpful if to buy some double-sided adhesive tape that can help keep your bra and your dress in place.

A backless bra may be more difficult. You will need a strapless, bandless bra. You may also be able to get a bra extender strap that you can attach to your own bra and wrap around your waist (if your dress is not completely backless.)

A halter style dress will require a halter bra. These are very easy to find and may be the most comfortable out of the ones mentioned above. Look for a bra with adjustable straps that will extend around your neck, leaving your shoulders bare.

How Can Girls Minimize Bumps and Bulges?

There are miracle workers out there now that can help minimize certain assets or simply create a smoother look underneath your dress. Look at your local lingerie store or department store for shapewear such as waist cinchers or thigh slimmers. They have a wide variety of styles to suit whatever you may be wearing. Spanx and Body Wrap are two great brands to look for.

Do You Have to Spend a Fortune to Look Fabulous?

You do not have to spend a lot to look great on prom night! If you have already exhausted your own closet and family and friends closets and found nothing... you can start looking for your dress early and hit the local thrift stores to find really expensive dresses marked down to almost nothing! Outlet malls are also a great place to find inexpensive prom dresses.

What Accessories are Hot for Prom?

If you want to change your look, you can add a hair extension clip in piece to create a completely different look. These are very hot for prom night. Other accessories that are hot this year are rhinestone hair clips, flowered or braided headbands, beaded clutch purses, and strappy metallic heels.

What are the Hot Celebrity Styles?

Some styles that I really love this year are the one strap dresses, short flirty hemlines, sequins in every size and color are always a hit, and dresses in fun colors like papaya, plum or yellow are sure to make you stand out on prom night!


If you need assistance in deciding how to pick the perfect prom dress, bring along a friend or family member to help make the decision. They'll be able to see the dress from all angles and be able to give their opinion on which dress looks best on your figure.

How to Pick the Perfect Prom Dress