Do you guys know any good websites to check out for prom dresses? I want to find something that no one else in my town will be wearing.

Ooh yes, girl. LET US STAND OUT. I had to buy my junior-year prom dress at Robinsons-May (a now-extinct standard mall department store)—imagine the diarrhea nerves I had worrying that some other girl would be wearing my same dress! QUELLE HORROR! (Relax, that didn’t happen—but I wasted a lot of time fearing that it would.) Avoid that kind of risky business by going straight for vintage, which cuts down your odds of running into a duplicate of your dress by approximately a million percent. If there aren’t any good thrift/vintage stores in your area, start by scoping out Etsy and eBay. Searching “vintage prom dress” on Etsy brings up something like 850 options. If you aren’t already sure what you’re looking for, flipping through those photos should give you some ideas. What style of dress do you want? Strapless with a big tulle petticoat? Something pink? For more ideas, take a lurk at the vintage prom dress guide I wrote last year. If you still haven’t found the dress of your dreams, just start Googling wildly. I searched for “vintage prom dresses” and found the Rusty Zipper, which has some cute stuff. Finally, raid the closets of your familia! Maybe your older sister or your auntie has a badass dress in their stash. That pretty much guarantees the uniqueness of your outfit, AND you won’t have to spend any money on a dress! Keep in mind that the sooner you start searching, the better, just in case you need to do any fix-up sewing or have something adjusted by a tailor. Good luck! —Marie

I plan to wear a dress that used to belong to my grandma. I don’t want to look like I’m in period costume. How can I “modern up” a vintage dress? —Lily

If you ever saw Pretty in Pink, you might remember the controversial scene when Andie (Molly Ringwald) cuts up her boss’s old ’50s-style prom dress and refashions it into a more modern-looking style (though “modern” at that time was the ’80s).

L-R: Before and after.

L-R: Before and after.

Lots of people cried foul and wished that Andie had left the dress as it was, a cute taffeta fit-and-flare number, instead of giving it a high collar and cut-out sleeves.

What’s this have to do with your situation, you ask? Well, both you and Andie want to jazz up an old hand-me-down. There ain’t nothing wrong with that! I wish I could see the dress you’re talking about, but since I can’t and my psychic powers are a little rusty, I will just make some general suggestions. If you are allowed to modify the dress, then we are GOOD TO GO. Consider cutting long sleeves off, into either cap sleeves or no sleeves at all. If the dress is long, shorten it! If it’s short, add some trim to the bottom to give it length and pizzazz. Speaking of PIZZAZZ (hey that word has the word pizza in it), why not sew sequins on the neck or bust of the dress? We can always use some sparkle!

If you don’t know how to sew, find a relative or a friend who can do the dirty work (just bake them cookies or take them to the movies to show your gratitude). Or, if you have a little $$ to spare, you can always take the dress to a seamstress or a tailor.

Keeping your shoes and accessories modern will help a lot, so don’t be afraid to go all out with either, especially since you’d be saving money on the dress. Have fun at prom! —Marie

I like long dresses, but they’re not so great for dancing, which is pretty much the reason I go to prom! I’m looking for a short dress that would be fun to dance in—something flippy or swingy, maybe? Prom is kind of getting close and I’m worried I won’t find anything fun!

Ahhh, I can totally relate! There’s nothing worse than wanting to dance at a party, but being stuck in a stuffy, structured dress. I think there are definitely some long, flowy dresses that allow you to move, but I love that you want to wear something short—I can’t get enough of short swingy dresses myself at the moment!

Whenever someone’s looking for something to wear to a fancy event, I always recommend the website Rent the Runway. Since most prom dresses—even the ones that are procured with the purest intentions to alter and/or repurpose them after the dance—end up in the back of the closet, never to be seen again, it’s much more practical to rent a designer dress for a few days and send it back when the dance is over.

Since I don’t know about your personal style (or how formal you want to be), I tried to pick out a variety of options that will fit a few different aesthetics—all perfect for a night on the dance floor:


All dresses from Rent the Runway. Costs are for four-day rentals. Top row, left to right: Grand Scheme Dress by Z Spoke by Zac Posen, $90; Moschino Time for Tea Dress, $225; So Fan-tastic Dress by Temperley London, $250. Bottom row, L-R: School Girl Gone Bad Dress, BCBG Max Azria, $65; Pastel Floral Fantasy Dress by Prabal Gurung, $250; Tibi Red Rococo Print Dress, $75.

How it works is you order the dress you want to borrow (you can even get a backup size just in case, at no extra charge), it arrives in the mail, you dance the night away, then you send it back in a prepaid box, sort of like Netflix before it was streaming.

But if you really want to buy something you’ll own for a while, I get that too! Here are some super cute, twirl-worthy dresses you won’t have to send back when prom is over:


Top, left to right: Little Mistress Sequin Lace Stripe Prom Dress, $125, ASOS; Opulence England One Shoulder Chiffon Pearl Flower Dress, $82.50, ASOS. Bottom, L-R: Step Up to the Plait Dress by Ryu, $70, Modcloth; “Marilyn” Short Convertible Dress, $195, Monif C.

Just from your question I can tell you are totally going to have a blast. —Gabi

I want to wear a tuxedo to prom. Where can I find a nice one that will look good on a girl? —Olivia

For a pro answer I took your question to my friend Rae, who runs the blog The Handsome Butch and fits suits on people all over the gender spectrum. Here’s what she said: “Without knowing anything about your body or gender presentation or budget, I’m going to suggest you check out Brooks Brothers boys’ department. Boys’ tuxes usually fit women’s bodies better than men’s suits, and plus they’re a lot cheaper (for comparable quality). J. Crew also makes a nice boys’ tux.” Rae warns against renting a tuxedo: it’s “weirdly expensive” she says—more per day than any of the dresses Gabi just showed you—and you can’t get it altered if it’s not a perfect fit (which it usually isn’t). Cheaper than renting or buying new is getting a suit from a secondhand/thrift store—but be warned that the cost of altering an old tux can wind up being more than the suit itself ($75 to tailor a $25 suit is pretty typical). —Lola

I have acne and a few acne scars on my back, and so I don’t want to wear a backless dress, or one with a low back. Do you have any suggestions for dresses that would be fancy enough for prom, but cover my back?

We have so many options, my sweets! Take a peek at just a few of these that I found on Pinup Girl Clothing, Modcloth, and Topshop:


Clockwise from top left: Looking Like a Million Bucks Dress, $80, Modcloth; Foil Bonded Lace Skater Dress, $120, Topshop; To Speech Her Own Dress, $100, Modcloth; Evelyn Dress, $120, Pinup Girl Clothing, [link: ], Isabelle Dress in Turquoise, $200, Pinup Girl Clothing.

All of these are perfectly fancy for prom and have good back coverage. How will you choose? I’d want them all! BUT let’s say you aren’t feeling any of these and by MURPHY’S LAW or whatever, you find a dress elsewhere that you LOVE, but it’s strapless. Yes, you can wear a shawl or something, but I’m telling you: nobody will give two dookies about your back, or even notice your scars/spots. And hopefully you’ll be having so much fun you won’t be thinking about them either! Hope this helps, chickadee! —Marie ♦

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