My school’s dress code for graduation is pretty strict, but I’m not really about that life. My outfit has to be conservative—no short skirts or huge-ass heels. Basically, they want everyone to dress like Michelle Obama. Ideas? —Maeve

While Michelle Obama always looks amazing, I can see how you might want to go a different route as a teenage babe saying SEE YA to high school forever. Dress codes can blow, but if you look at it a different way, such limitations help narrow down your choices! You know how the menus at all-night diners are often so huge they’re overwhelming, and you don’t know what to order? Sometimes it’s refreshing to have just a few simple choices right in front of you, you know?

First, let’s focus on the “no short skirts” rule and look for some interesting knee-length dresses. If there are no rules against wearing prints or patterns, there’s your making-things-interesting loophole! Think of all the printed possibilities: polka dots, funky florals, gingham, checks, and/or novelty patterns! You can stay well within your school’s restrictions but still look cool and amazing.

If you do have to stick to a solid color, look for something with an interesting silhouette or motif, like a flared skirt or a nautical theme. Take a gander at this collage of the coolest dresses I found on Unique Vintage:

Clockwise from top left: polka-dotted dress, $80 Unique Vintage; checkered dress, $60, Unique Vintage; swing dress, $80, Unique Vintage; flowered dress, $76, Unique Vintage; green dress, $158, Unique Vintage; bow dress, $94, Unique Vintage.

Clockwise from top left: polka-dot dress, $80; checkered dress, $60; swing dress, $80; flower-print dress, $76; green dress, $158; sailor dress, $94.

If your school balks at bare shoulders but you want to wear a strapless or spaghetti-strap dress, throw a cardigan over it. Simple as that!

I’m trying to find a dress I can wear to my graduation, the afterparty, and future college events. I’m looking for something badass that my grandma will still approve of, but everything I’ve seen looks too stuffy, too girly, or kinda tacky. Important sidenote: I like emphasizing my waist, legs, and tits! —G., 18, Seattle

I feel like your best bet in this sitch is finding a L(B)BD, aka a Li’l (Badass) Black Dress. The perfect black dress for you won’t be too conservative and will be versatile enough to wear over and over again on all sorts of occasions.

Since you like to emphasize your waist, legs, and tetas, I’d go for a skater or bodycon dress that shows off a bit of cleave. Skater dresses fit close to the waist and flare out, while bodycon dresses hug your figure and show off your curves. Both are incredibly flattering in the ways you’re going for, so it just depends on which style you like best! Here are a bunch of black dresses that should fit the bill:

Clockwise from top left: fitted skater dress, $42, LuLu*s; cut-out dress, $38, ASOS; high-low skater dress, $105, ASOS; sweetheart skater dress, $61, ASOS; lace skater dress, $72.50, ASOS; zip-front dress, $228.50, ASOS.

Clockwise from top left: fitted skater dress, $42, LuLu’s; cut-out dress, $38, ASOS; high-low skater dress, $105, ASOS; sweetheart skater dress, $61, ASOS; lace skater dress, $72.50, ASOS; zip-front dress, $228.50, ASOS.

At my graduation, we have to wear white clothing and shoes and gold, silver, or red jewelry. I’ve decided to go with a simple white jersey dress, but I have no idea what to do about shoes or accessories. Any advice? —Casey

What’s fun about a simple white dress is that you can go crazy with accessories. If the color of your jewelry is your only limitation, I’d go for something unexpected like a statement necklace— I like this “solar flare” necklace from LuLu’s and this flower necklace from Topshop. Then there’s this gold tooth necklace if you wanna creep out your teachers—this is your last chance to freak them out, so why not? In another variation on the mouth idea, This lip-pendant necklace also falls in line with your school’s color requirements.

For shoes, I love these panda flats and these lace booties. Or how about some white Docs? If you want to wear something dressier, white wedge sandals like this pair are walkable enough that you won’t trip down the aisle.

I recently dyed my my hair bubblegum pink, and I’m having trouble shopping for a graduation dress. What colors would complement, or at least not clash with, my hair? —Mari, Seattle

One thing I learned during my own days of candy-colored-hair-edness was to never let the shade of my locks determine my outfit. You don’t really have to match your clothes to your hair—you probably look great in every color! Some proof of this life truth: One of my favorite pink-haired bloggers is Kate of Scathingly Brilliant. She wears outfits of every color combination and always looks as cute as hell. Check her out for some inspo:

But if you’re really into coordinating your colors, you still don’t have to stick to black, pink, and white. (Though I have to say, I’m pretty obsessed with this pink numba!) According to the theory of complementary colors, the colors that correspond best with bubblegum pink are baby blue and mint green (plus, with either of those colors, you’ll look like a walking candy store, which would be AWESOME). Accessorize with an ice cream necklace for added sweetness! Here are some nice choices for a pastel princess look:

Clockwise from top left: halter dress, $128, Unique Vintage; maxi dress, $166, LuLu*s; tea dress, $110, Unique Vintage; lace dress, $99, ModCloth; striped dress, $150, ModCloth; bow dress, $148, ModCloth.

Clockwise from top left: halter dress, $128, Unique Vintage; maxi dress, $166, LuLu’s; mint-green mesh cocktail dress, $110, Unique Vintage; lace dress, $148, ModCloth; striped dress, $150, ModCloth; collared dress, $99, ModCloth.

No matter what you end up wearing: HAPPY GRADUATION, ROOKIES! ♦

Whether you’re just generally like, “How do I wear clothes? Wait, what ARE clothes?” or you have a more specific question about pleating, draping, and sophisticated style stuff like that, write to Marie and her fashionable compatriots at [email protected]. Please let us know your first name (or nickname), age, and where you live.