What to Wear on Prom

Prom season is upon us, and we want to help you look your best. Prom is the one night of the year where you can really make a statement with your outfit. You can show off your personality, show how much you care about yourself, and most importantly, have fun! But when it comes down to it, there are some key things to keep in mind when picking out what to wear on prom. Prom is a big deal, and you want to look your best. But what does that mean? What should you wear? Where do you start?

What to Wear on Prom

If you’re reading this, you’re probably planning on attending prom.

If that’s the case, then we want to make sure that you look great! We’ve asked our stylist to create a collection of prom outfits for girls and guys that will help you stand out in the crowd.

You might be thinking: “But wait… what if I’m not going to prom?” Well, don’t worry! We’ve got some great tips on how to dress up any day of the year as well as some ideas for what to wear on any occasion.

Wearing the right outfit to prom is an important decision. After all, it’s a night to remember—and one that may end up in your yearbook or on social media for years to come.

But don’t worry: We’ve got some tips for you!

Prom is more than just about looking good; it’s about feeling good and having fun. So if you’re planning on attending prom, consider these tips before you go shopping for your dress.

Prom is a big deal. It’s the culmination of months of hard work and preparation—a night where you can forget about the stresses of school, forget about your homework, and just have fun.

It’s also a night for looking your best. Your mom has probably been telling you since kindergarten that it’s important to look nice, so why not take her advice?

Prom is a formal event and you are expected to wear formal attire. Formal prom attire may be classified as a dress, tuxedo, dress suit, including a tie or bow tie, a dress shirt, which may include a vest or cummerbund, and dress shoes. Dresses may be strapless (if they fit properly) or include spaghetti straps.

PROM FASHION ADVICE: WHAT TO WEAR TO PROM
Prom season has a funny way of sneaking up on even the most forward-thinking fashionista! With so many prom dress styles available, any assistance navigating the sea of prom fashion possibilities can be a big lifesaver. As every social-savvy girl can attest, even the smallest fashion detail matters for nailing that one-of-a-kind, Insta-worthy moment. Prom dresses come in a dizzying array of cuts and colors, and topping it with the right prom accessories can quickly make (or break) the look. With head-to-toe fashion advice in this section of the Prom Guide, learn how to flatter and flaunt your best features, from the Pinterest-inspired prom updo to the perfectly pedicured toes. The experts at PromGirl have the breakdown of what to wear, starting with the all-important statement dress and finishing the look with accessories like eye-catching jewelry and prom heels that give you a runway-worthy sashay. Worried about your date’s prom attire? Don’t sweat it, there’s fashion advice for that too!

Prom is so much more than just a party, so why settle for just a party dress? A prom dress is often considered the most significant part of the entire prom experience, so you should choose a dress that expresses your individuality! Take advantage of the tips in this section of the Prom Guide that explore ways to find your ideal style by body type, color, theme, or the latest trends. There’s also an informative dress-fitting video on how to ensure a prom-perfect fit, as well as tips for keeping your new prom dress in tip-top shape from delivery to preservation. Easily avoid potential pitfalls like purchasing prom dresses from counterfeit websites. These bait-and-switch websites advertise gorgeous prom dresses at incredibly low prices, but deliver low quality, counterfeit items that look nothing like the dresses that were advertised. Thankfully, right here in this Prom Guide, we’ll show you how to spot these counterfeit sites and avoid getting scammed.

Prom Accessories
PROM ACCESSORIES
ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR PROM DRESS
EARRINGS FOR PROM
NECKLACES AND BRACELETS FOR PROM
SHOES FOR PROM
PURSES FOR PROM

Once you’ve found the perfect dress, the right prom accessories bring your look to the next level! Jewelry, shoes, and clutches can add a layer of excitement to your outfit, but styling details can trip up even the most confident fashionistas. Explore how to highlight a strapless dress with shoulder-grazing chandelier earrings, or add sparkling charm to a one-shoulder Grecian-style dress with glittering studs. Want to show off dramatic prom heels in a high-low dress, or jazz up your look with rhinestone sneakers? Let PromGirl help you sort through the nuances of coordinating all of your prom accessories for your favorite dress style.

Easy to overlook, flowers are a notably important prom accessory. Dating back to the early days of prom traditions, exchanging corsages and boutonnieres is a long-standing, cherished ritual between prom dates. Exotic, tropical flowers can create an attention-grabbing contrast to prom dresses and suits, while subtle, delicate blooms add soft, gentle flair and elegance. Either way, coordinating flowers with your prom attire can really complete the entire look. Flowers even have meanings and make a statement. Hint: Pick sunny yellow flowers if you want to signal friendship, but choose a fiery red if you’re seeking romance. Follow the fashion-worthy floral advice for prom in this section of the Prom Guide to make sure your corsage is on-point for prom night!

Suiting up to stand out shouldn’t always be the goal. Your date’s attire should allow him to express his unique style, but also complement yours; therefore, the right suit and tie (or tux and bow tie) for your date is essential. The perfect fit and colors are key. While some guys may opt for suits in muted shades to allow their dates to shine, other guys might want to rock a bold-colored shirt or pin-striped suit, joining their dates in the spotlight. Try coordinating suit styles among your prom squad for exceptional group shots. As suit fashion options continue to evolve with art and pop culture, you’ll be surprised at the wealth of fashion choices for both guys and girls, so have fun exploring the possibilities!

Suit?

Blazer?

Prom is always something to look forward to, especially after working hard to get through the term.

But there’s this certain pressure to get everything right.

One thing most likely gives young men the jitters – the Prom outfit.

Outfit choices usually build up more stress than necessary.

REAL MEN REAL STYLE VIDEOS
Relax and take a deep breath.

Sure, I set a towel on fire with a hair dryer when I got ready for my high school prom, but I’ve learned a lot since then, and you get all that wisdom of the ages handed down to you here on the blog and at our YouTube channel. (Also, hair dryer safety standards have improved a lot since then.)

Getting dressed for prom is fun. And there’s one simple trick that, more than any other piece of advice, will guarantee that you’re one of the best-looking guys there:

Keep it classic, keep it timeless; and keep it tasteful.

These are all three facets of the same idea — that you want to look like a man who took control of his clothes, not a man whose clothes got draped over him by a relative or a rental tux salesman.

That means staying away from the gaudy offerings you’ll see a lot of places. Whether you go for a tux or a suit, avoid anything — seriously, anything — that comes in a shiny, plastic-like, brightly-colored fabric.

Instead, deck yourself out in the powerful elegance of black and white. With just a few tasteful touches of color here and there you’ll be an impressive alternative to the guys in the goofier, novelty-style “formal” garments.

prom suitsTrue Black Tie: The Semi-Formal Option
What most people call formal wear is actually semi-formal, and it means a tuxedo jacket and black-tie outfit.

Realistically, your prom won’t be a strict black tie event. It’s impossible to hold a crowd of high school students to that standard, to say nothing of unfair to students who don’t have the resources for an elaborate rental outfit.

But it will certainly be an option at most proms, and for a guy who wants to look wickedly sharp it’s still the best choice out there. By dressing to true black tie standards when most of your peers are in more costume-like garments you’re sure to stand out.

You won’t want to buy a tuxedo at this stage of your life — you’re still growing, and they’re expensive garments to replace. Instead, you’ll be renting.

Make it clear at the rental store that you want proper black-tie attire, including the following:

prom dress ideas1. The Jacket
Tuxedo-style jacket in plain black with either peaked lapels or a shawl collar.

The lapels can be faced in black satin or left the same surface as the jacket, though the former is more traditional and a bit sharper-looking.

If you plan on wearing a boutonniere flower (which I recommend), make sure there’s a working buttonhole for it.

  1. The Trousers
    Matching black in the same material as the jacket.

There should be a stripe of satin (the same satin that’s on the lapels) down the outside of each trouser leg. They should be held up with suspenders, not a belt, and the trousers should have tabs for the suspenders inside the waistband.

You don’t want the cheaper metal clip style of suspenders showing from underneath your jacket while you dance.

formal outfits3. The Shirt
Plain white with a stiff vertical band (called a placket) in the center where the sides join. The buttonholes will be holes on both sides, fastened with studs rather than sewn-on buttons.

Cuffs should be French-style. The collar can be either a basic point collar (like you would see on most good dress shirts) or the raised wing-style collar with stiff, elevated points.

  1. The Tie
    A plain black bow tie. Take the extra five minutes to learn how to tie one yourself, rather than using a clip-on.

It’s about as easy as tying your shoes, there’s easy how-to guides online if the rental outfit doesn’t come with one (Wikipedia alone can get you through it), and it’ll look much better. People will notice.

dress shoes for prom5. The Shoes
You could rent formal pumps to go with the outfit, but if you have a pair of plain black dress shoes of your own I’d recommend shining them up and wearing them instead.

A night of dancing is a tough way to break in shoes you’ve never worn before.

  1. The Waist
    You can wear either a vest or a cummerbund. Either one is fine, but plain black satin is preferable for both. You can wear a colored cummerbund, but if you do, stick to very dark and sober colors.

Bright colors look terrible. A colored vest of any kind is too much — if you opt for a vest, stick to black.

  1. Accents
    You can usually select your shirt studs and cufflinks from several options. They should either match or be complementing, such as plain black shirt studs and gold-and-black cufflinks. Never mix silver and gold metals in the same outfit.

For a touch of color, consider adding a boutonniere — a plain red carnation is always striking, or you can talk to a florist about a matching boutonniere-and-corsage set for you and your date. Just stick to ones with a single flower for you; gentlemen should never be wearing a bouquet on their chest.

If this sounds a little too restrained to you, think again. The elegant simplicity of the black tie outfit brings out everything that goes with it.

A single flower becomes a vivid accent; a darkly-colored cummerbund is suddenly a bold fashion statement. And, most importantly, it means that you and your date — not your gaudy outfit — will be the center of attention.

prom outfitsDark Suits: The “Black Tie Optional” Alternative
Unless your school specifies in explicit terms that you have to wear black tie, you can treat prom as a “black tie optional” event.

That means that instead of wearing a tuxedo you can wear a plain, dark suit with a white shirt and a colored tie.

This is often a more affordable option (particularly for sons lucky enough to fit in their father’s business suits), and it gives you a little more leeway to add colored elements, particularly the necktie.

Just exercise restraint — you’ll look better in a simple dark suit with a nice muted tie in the same color family as your date’s dress than you will wearing wild patterns and neon colors.

It isn’t as striking as black tie, but a good suit (especially one that fits well) will still set you apart as one of the sharper-dressed young men at the prom.

A Word on Matching Your Date
Try not to get talked into matching outfits. A little complementing contrast between you and your date is a good thing.

If she’s wearing a light blue dress, a dark blue boutonniere flower on your tux or a navy-and-gold necktie with your suit is more than enough of a nod to her choice. You’re trying to look like two charming young people, not a wedding cake topper.

It’s easy to get talked into some of the big fashion mistakes of prom — wearing bright colors, breaking the black tie rules, and matching your date too closely — but this is a great chance for you to take charge of your own outfit and stand out on your own.

Whatever you choose to wear, good luck — and remember that the most important part of your outfit is your demeanor and your respect toward your peers and your companion for the evening.

What to Wear on Prom for Guys

If you’re a guy, you’ve probably already started thinking about what to wear for prom. And if not, you should be! Prom is a big deal—and it’s an occasion that can make or break your entire high school career.

Prom is like the end of one chapter and the beginning of another: it’s one final night of freedom before you head off to college or start work. You want to look good, but also like yourself. You want to feel confident and have fun without compromising your style or personality.

So whether this is your first prom or your last, here are some tips for looking sharp while still being yourself:

You’ve been looking forward to this day since you were in middle school. Now that prom is finally here, you’re probably having a hard time choosing what to wear. Well, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips for how to dress for your big dance:

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

  • Suit or Tux: It’s prom—polo shirts are not okay.
  • Tie or Bow Tie: Which one is up to you. Bow ties work best with tuxedos.
  • Dress Shirt: White is the way to go. If you wear a tux and bow tie, try a tuxedo shirt.
  • Black Shoes: Shiny patent leather is great for a modern outfit. Black leather works, too.
Prom Outfits for Men cover image blue velvet jacket

Stressing about prom? Can’t wait? Maybe… both? Congrats, you’re normal. But if you’re definitely going, you definitely don’t want a “normal” prom outfit. It’s a big deal, and you only get one shot to show up.

We have some recommendations. Whether you’re looking for some version of the classic black and white tux, or a modern look that won’t age poorly, we’ll get you ready for the party.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

First, let’s talk about the basics: what you need, what’s optional.NEED

Suit or Tux: It’s prom—polo shirts are not okay.
Tie or Bow Tie: Which one is up to you. Bow ties work best with tuxedos.
Dress Shirt: White is the way to go. If you wear a tux and bow tie, try a tuxedo shirt.
Black Shoes: Shiny patent leather is great for a modern outfit. Black leather works, too.OPTIONAL

Suspenders: A fun, vibey accessory, but tux pants have waist adjusters and you can use a belt for a suit. Your pants will be fine without suspenders.
Pocket Squares: You should wear one if you can—it just looks great.
Vest: You don’t have to wear a vest, especially for a modern look.
Cummerbund: An old-school tux garment that’s coming back, but it’s not required.
Cufflinks: You should totally wear these, but you can get by without.

If that seems like a lot to handle, let us do it for you—check out our complete outfits with everything you need for prom. Or, read on to build the perfect look for you

Classic Prom Outfits for Men

Do it right, and a classic look won’t feel outdated. Google vintage pics of OG actors, athletes, or musicians—the legends keep it simple. Below are three men’s prom outfits to help you reach legend status in your own time.

CLASSIC PROM SUIT IDEAS

Unless your prom has a black tie dress code (learn more about that here), you’ll still look formal enough for prom if you wear the right suit. While everyone else goes big with a tux, a suit can make a low-key, timeless statement. A blue suit (or navy, or grey) is a great base for accessories.

blue men's prom suit
Blue Suit 

As good as this suit looks with the red tie and brown shoes above, you’ll want to dress it up with black and white ties, shoes, and accessories for a formal prom. Make yours interesting with unique patterns like tartan or pindots. Don’t forget the pocket square (learn more about pocket squares here).

CLASSIC PROM TUXEDO IDEAS

The classic tux has been around for a long time, and that’s because it makes everyone and every body type look great. It’s a good choice when you want to go big, but in a subtle way. To pull this off, less is more. Start with a black tuxedo and white shirt, then add black and white accessories.

If you want to coordinate with your date, try matching the color of your pocket square to their outfit. Our quad pocket squares to each have four shades—in blue, green, red, yellow, and more colors—so you can fold up to the right tone and let it peek out of your jacket pocket. It’s like a rubik’s cube, except cool. (Jk, those are fun.) Keep everything else B&W to avoid looking like a twinning sibling combo, not cool.

Okay, so you want to go classic, but not that classic. If a black tux doesn’t get you hyped, midnight blue might be the move for you. It’s just as classic, but the dark blue fabric is a little more unexpected.


Modern Prom Outfits for Men

If the classic looks are too traditional for you, or you’re looking to make a statement, a modern prom outfit could be a wise move. Need to bring awards season energy? One of the modern looks below should do it.

MODERN PROM SUIT IDEAS

If you wear a suit with a pattern—a modern trend, btw—you should try to avoid doubling down patterns on your accessories. It gets messy quick. This suit has a simple black and white pattern (called gingham) that isn’t too “out there,” and looks great on anyone.

Since you don’t want more patterns, find accessories with different textures, like a knit tie or a bow tie made of rich velvet fabric. If you do decide you want a little pattern, make sure it’s different from the one on your suit. A polka dot pattern should work with gingham (see the pocket square below).

MODERN PROM TUX IDEAS

For a modern take on the classic tux, try a dinner jacket look—a unique jacket paired with black tuxedo pants. The burgundy version below is just one of many options—emerald, plum, marigold, and rose are all bold colors that are equally rock-able.

If you haven’t noticed, we recommend a lot of black and white accessories for prom. Maybe that’s just us, traumatized by shiny, bright-colored vest and tie combos. Besides, you can take the accessories below and wear them with any suit or tux (or dinner jacket prom outfit), and you’ll look perfect. Don’t overlook the shoes—these grosgrain loafers are great for dancing.


Make the Look Yours

Choosing the right suit is big, but the tie, shoes, and sunglasses you pair with that suit or tux are important, too. That’s how you truly own your look and make it personal, and choosing the right accessories is the easiest, best way to stand out.

We make it easy to personalize men’s prom outfits. In fact, we make the whole process of renting (or buying) prom suits simple. If you like the classic approach, we have over 300 showrooms across the country where we’ll help you find your sizes (and style).

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