How to Style a Prom Dress (Whether You’re 16 or 36…)

Prom season is fast approaching, so brace yourselves for an influx of strapless tulle dresses. They’re coming for you and there’s nowhere to hide!

My high school prom took place in 2006, and I wore a vintage aqua dress from Beyond Retro with fuchsia Topshop heels. I was lucky enough to grow up during the Sex and the City years, and unlike most of my peers I went for a more traditional prom silhouette in an attempt to look like Carrie Bradshaw. (Serious question: who do teens look to for prom inspiration now that SJP isn’t on our TV screens every week?)

I’ve spotted a few “what the do I wear to prom?!” tweets over the last week or so, which inspired me put together a bit of promspiration. And this doesn’t just apply to those of you who are graduating high school this summer – you can totally rock a traditional prom dress past the age of 16 if you pair it with edgy accessories. These three stylish ladies do, and they all look pretty damn fabulous…

Prom Pin-Up #1: Hailee Steinfeld wore a beautiful Donna Karan Atelier prom dress to last year’s Met Ball. The theme was Punk: Chaos to Couture, so she toughened up her girly look with bold hair and makeup. Go one step further by teaming your prom dress with punky accessories (Hailee played it a bit too safe by sticking with metallics and glitter).

Hailee Steinfeld Met Gala Prom Dress

Get the Look: 1. ALDO clutch bag at ASOS and ASOS USA | 2. Gianvito Rossi sandals at Net-A-Porter and Net-A-Porter USA | 3. Chain ear cuff at ASOS and ASOS USA

Prom punk style

Prom Pin-Up #2: Jane Aldridge from Sea of Shoes is my favourite style blogger, and nobody wears a full skirt with quite as much flair. If you own a LBD in a prom style, emphasise your waist with an interesting belt and accessorise with retro bows and hints of blush pink. L.K. Bennet’s feminine booties are a great option, and I also love Topshop’s chunky bow heels.

Jane Sea of Shoes Prom Dress

Get the Look: 1. Ruffle peep toe heels by L.K Bennett | 2. Magic liner at Topshop and Topshop USA | 3. Marni bow belt at Net-A-Porter and Net-A-Porter USA

Prom pretty style

Prom Pin-Up #3: Carrie Bradshaw is the queen of the prom dress. We see her wearing multiple variations on the look throughout all six seasons of Sex and the City, and she doesn’t stick to any style rules, mixing things up in a number unexpected ways. However, if you want to inject a bit of Bradshaw into your prom dress add a Chanel-inspired tweed jacket, layers of pearls and fabulous heels (of course).

Carrie Bradshaw Oscar de la Renta prom dress

Get the Look: 1. Cropped jacket at Topshop and Topshop USA | 2. Triple strand pearl necklace by Ben-Amun | 3. Lulu Frost earrings at Net-A-Porter and Net-A-Porter USA

Carrie Bradshaw Style

Have these three ladies inspired you to wear a traditional prom dress this summer? I now regret throwing mine away (although, in my defence, the skirt was covered in rust stains – the price of choosing vintage).

Images, PR Photos and
  • Ahhh I want to be at home now watching that satc episode, I absolutely love Carrie in her prom dress, she looks so beautiful! Love the two other icons you’ve picked out too, especially Hailee! I remember the biggest fear for me at prom was the nightmare of seeing someone wearing the same dress as me, I got mine from Karen Millen thinking that because it was sort of more “luxury” high-street there wouldn’t be anyone wearing the same dress, I was wrong. As soon as I saw someone wearing the dress and (she spotting me) we both gave each other a look that said “eugh, she’s wearing MY dress” I remember looking to Agyness Deyn for inspiration when it came to Prom dresses, she did that whole effortless, trainers-with-prom-dress look so well! Sadly pinterest didn’t exist then otherwise I’m sure many hours would have been spent pinning looks, bags, shoes etc XX

  • Mira Shpak

    Prom Pin-up is perfect! But I already had my prom:( a long ago :(((((((

    Read my new article on

  • lavieenliz

    prom was so fun!!

  • They’re all cute looks but I really love Jane’s. It’s mainly her awesome hair that makes all the difference but she’s also got such an elegant allure.

    Love from Fiftn_UK @

  • I wish I enjoyed my high school prom more instead of begrudgingly going. If there was a prom while in your twenties…I’d be ALL OVER THAT!