Fashion: Style kings and queens of the school prom

Striped halterneck shift dress, £55; maxi dress, from a selection, both by Little Mistress.Striped halterneck shift dress, £55; maxi dress, from a selection, both by Little Mistress.
Striped halterneck shift dress, £55; maxi dress, from a selection, both by Little Mistress.
As school leavers prepare for their prom night, recent graduate Abigail Turner has advice on standing out in those Insta photos.

Prom season is just around the corner and with it comes the panic of picking a dress. THE dress. You may want something comfortable, that you can dance in, but also stand-out special and in keeping with current trends. Should it be short or long? Floral or block colour? Strapless or sleeves? The whole task is daunting.

Boys had it easier until recently. They simply had to pick between a three-piece suit or a two-piece and choose from just a few colours. However, nowadays young men are faced with a whole array of sartorial ideas. Should they have skinny, straight or flared trousers? What sort of material should their jacket be? What sort of extras can they get away with? The list is now endless. With designers such as Thom Browne pioneering the way in men’s tailoring, the choices boys make for prom are now just as agonising as they are for the girls.

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Proms have been influenced by American high school dramas such as One Tree Hill and The OC. Traditionally in the UK, secondary schools held a summer ball at the end of the year, but during the 2000s the influence of US TV shows made the school prom a regular feature to mark the end of secondary school (Year 11) and the end of sixth form (Year 13).

Black and white jumpsuit, £45, at Miss SelfridgeBlack and white jumpsuit, £45, at Miss Selfridge
Black and white jumpsuit, £45, at Miss Selfridge

Having said that, the UK prom certainly does not put as much pressure on youngsters as it does in the US, certainly in terms of having a date, becoming prom king and prom queen, or being an established and highly regarded member of the planning committee.

Yet the teenage prom can be as stressful as a wedding, from picking the perfect dress and getting the make-up just so, to the inevitable photos, which will last a lifetime and be splashed all over social media. Here are few ideas from the high street that will help you.

For boys, different textures and patterns are a good idea. This tonal unstructured suit from Jigsaw is light and airy for summer and if you dare to pair it with trainers you shall have the casual smart look down to a tee (although do check the dress code; if there is a stringent one in place, as you don’t want to be turned away at the door by the usual uniform police on the teaching staff).

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Of course, you can never go wrong with a classic, and this elegant three-piece suit from Burton embodies all that is stylish for prom night.

Checked shirt, £98; unstructured suit jacket, £350; trousers, £150. All at Jigsaw.Checked shirt, £98; unstructured suit jacket, £350; trousers, £150. All at Jigsaw.
Checked shirt, £98; unstructured suit jacket, £350; trousers, £150. All at Jigsaw.

It’s a given that girls have many more choices for their perfect prom look than boys have. Once upon a time, the traditional prom dress was feminine and floaty, and that can still be the case for those who want it, but girls can now make many more varied statements with their look. Consider darkly glamorous in all black, romantic and elegant in silk maxi gowns or sweet in pastel shift dresses. It doesn’t even have to be a dress. This jumpsuit from Miss Selfridge is feminine and powerful.

This Little Mistress shift dress on the other hand, is very Tinkerbell. For a petite girl, this is perfect, not least because you won’t trip over the hem of your dress. For a traditional elegant look, silk is the way to go and this dazzling emerald green Monsoon maxi dress is regal and divine. You will look like royalty and – most importantly – really stand out on all your peers’ Instagram feeds.

Yorkshire Fashion Diary

May 22: Silk scarf printing workshop by Leeds City Museum. All materials are provided, but bring an apron.

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Emerald green halterneck maxi dress, £109, Monsoon.Emerald green halterneck maxi dress, £109, Monsoon.
Emerald green halterneck maxi dress, £109, Monsoon.

May 26: Phase Eight will be hosting an in-store event this Saturday, 12noon-5pm, in its Skipton, Harrogate, Ilkley and Meadowhall stores with 20 per cent off summer collections, a glass of fizz while you browse, complimentary treats and goodies. Harrogate and Meadowhall will also offer free hand treatments from L’Occitane.

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