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Top 5 tips for dressing for prom

Finding the perfect look for prom is no small task. You have to decide on hairstyles, makeup options, dress styles and accessories — not to mention help your date look his best too! We asked editorial director of Nancy LeWinter to help us make it easier on you.

Floral prom dress

No matter what size or shape you are or what look you’re trying to achieve, these five tips will have you picture perfect and prom ready!

Stay true to your style

I can’t stress enough that prom is the biggest day of your high school life to really embrace who you are. “The biggest mistake is trying to reinvent yourself for prom, when it really should be a fabulous take on your own personal style,” says Nancy LeWinter. Set all of your insecurities aside and show the world your best and most beautiful self!

Who’s your celeb inspiration?

Yes, I just said to be true to your style, but that doesn’t mean you have to dream up a look all by your lonesome! “Pick a celeb whose style you like and go online to check out her red carpet looks,” says LeWinter. “Remember, size is irrelevant when looking at a celeb for inspiration, but shape does matter. Are you curvy like Katy Perry or straighter like Kristen Bell? You may love Michelle Williams’ style, but if you’re larger busted, those sweet babydoll dresses just don’t work.” Find a look that you know will enhance your best features.

Red dressNow the easy part – finding the dress

Really! With the internet, the right dress for your size, shape and budget is just clicks away. I like to use to start browsing and seeing what’s out there. Then, find a site that suits your tastes best. I love dresses from BCBGMAXAZRIA or Dalia MacPhee. For prom fashions that fit everybody, Nancy’s favorites are and Sydney’s Closet on

Finish the look

You’re almost finished creating the perfect prom look! Don’t ruin it by falling short on hair, makeup and accessories. It’s important to put just as much thought into these as you do when picking your dress. “Test run hair and makeup and see how it looks hours later,” says LeWinter. It’s important to make sure the look will hold up after a night of dancing. And when it comes to accessories, choose ones that complement the dress, not compete with it. Nothing looks worse than a spectacular show-stopping dress that’s been gaudied up with a ton of jewelry. “It sounds like common sense, but when everyone gets in prom mode, the over-the-top approach seems just so appealing that we forget what really looks right,” says LeWinter.

Don’t forget your date!

All night you’ll probably be presented as a pair, so make sure your date looks just as good as you do! (Definitely not better though!) This is a great way to bond with your date before the prom, and I know he’ll appreciate the style help. My advice is to venture away from outfits that are too “matchy-matchy” and go with a more sophisticated look. Instead of matching his tie to the exact color of your dress, find one with a pattern that complements the details of your dress in a similar color palette. “Regardless of which way you go, just make sure you’re comfortable,” adds LeWinter.

Watch: Prom for All!

The cost of going to prom can really add up… tickets, limo ride, flowers, and of course, the dress. Donate your gently worn formal dresses so that everyone can have an awesome prom. Hayden Panettiere is donating hers!

More on prom

Prom skin care countdown: Perfect your complexion for the big day
How to pull off the perfect prom look from head to toe
Hayden Panettiere and launch Prom For All campaign

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