Guide to Dressing for the Prom

As you prepare for one of the most memorable evenings of your school years, let’s delve into a bit of history and style guidance surrounding the prom. It’s an event that has peppered popular culture, particularly in the U.S., but has recently found a cherished place in the UK too.

An American institution

The prom, short for promenade, initially evolved in the United States as an end-of-year dance for high school students. It’s not just a night to frolic under a disco ball; it marks a coming-of-age celebration. Its cultural significance has often been depicted in Hollywood hits. Think Footloose, Mean Girls, Napoleon Dynamite or Pretty in Pink, where the prom is key to the story. (Hopefully, yours will pass with a fraction of the drama.)
These depictions underline prom’s key role in teen America, but in recent decades, this tradition has danced its way across the pond, taking root in British culture. UK youths now celebrate their own rites of passage with similar levels of dazzle.
In fact, dressing for the prom now carries almost as much excitement and preparation in the UK as it does in the States. And it’s definitely not just about the gowns – guys can often fret about their dress, too. So what’s the goal here? It’s pretty simple – look sharp, feel stylish, and leave a lasting impression. Here’s how you can do precisely that.

The Tuxedo

When aiming for sophistication, the tuxedo stands unrivalled. It’s a classic ensemble consisting of a crisp white shirt, a silken bowtie and a sleek dinner jacket – traditionally black but feel free to choose a midnight blue for a dash of contemporary suaveness. 
This is probably the best option if you’re following US tradition for the prom. It’s certainly a staple of the prom scene for boys, so won’t look out of place. If you just feel like something different, read on.

Party Blazer

For those thinking slightly outside traditional bounds, the party blazer offers a vibrant alternative. Opt for bold colours or exciting patterns like floral or geometric designs to set yourself apart without stepping too far from formality. Pair it with neutral trousers to balance the look.
Navy Velvet Paisley Blazer
Remember – the last thing you need is to look like you’re wearing your school blazer (unless that’s a theme). If you’re taking this route, make sure you choose a blazer that is not the same colour as your school’s. 

Full Suit

A well-fitted full suit could very well be your wardrobe weapon of choice. Navy, grey or charcoal provide timeless options, but stepping into lighter shades like beige or pastel can bring a fresh aesthetic perfect for a spring or summer prom.
Then again, there’s nothing wrong with going large and aiming for the full James Bond vibe in a white suit. You’re going to stand out, so make sure you’ve got the attitude and the moves to pull it off. 


If uniform suits aren’t quite your thing, separates are an excellent way to individualise your prom attire. Combine differing jackets and trousers to create contrast – think a burgundy velvet jacket with black trousers. This choice allows personality to shine through while still keeping it classy. It’s a great way to put your own personality on a dress code or theme, and you’ll be able to wear them again and again.

Promming on a Budget

If cash is tight, you can still cut a fine figure at your prom within budget. Start by scouring your wardrobe (and friends’ and family’s) for any suitable formal pieces – perhaps a blazer or dress trousers from a previous event or a family gathering. Identify what’s missing or could use an upgrade, and invest in one statement piece, like a new shirt with a unique collar style or a pair of stylish cufflinks to refresh your look. It’s amazing what a dash of personalisation can do.

The Dress Code

Always remember: adherence to dress code is key. Check any guidance provided for your prom event. Some schools might specify black tie, while others could suggest semi-formal attire. Understanding these expectations ahead of time ensures there’s no faux pas on the grand evening and helps you tailor your choice precisely.
Whether choosing to go timeless with a tux or bold with a blazer, planning for prom night is vital if you’re to avoid last-minute panic shopping. Above all, your comfort and confidence in your chosen outfit go a long way in enhancing your experience of what promises to be an unforgettable night. Dress well, relax and make spectacular memories that will last a lifetime.