Prom survival guide

Prom is a once in a lifetime event that can be anything you want it to be.The Mix is here to help you through this rite of passage, possibly whilst getting misty eyed about how grown-up you've got *cries in adult*. Read on to find out the ins and outs of making your prom a night you won’t forget, including what to wear to prom, who to take to prom and more.

A group of friends is dancing. They are at their school prom. This is a wide-angle image.

What to wear to prom

Worrying about what to wear to prom is part and parcel of the experience. The dress code is usually semi-formal, but what does that even mean? You might feel like you have to be the most marvellous person in the room. Hang on, not just the room, the most marvellous in a 20-mile radius. Jaws should hit the floor the moment you step into the room.

On second thoughts, maybe not. Here at The Mix we advocate feeling confident in your fashion while being realistic. Pretty please (with a cherry on top) don’t go and spend top-dollar on an outfit you’ll only wear once or twice. Instead, check out the high-street and vintage stores for more affordable prom outfits. You’re going to look fabulous whatever you wear. Dresses and gowns come in all different shapes and sizes, so the options are endless. Honestly, the best one is the one you’re comfortable in. 

If you plan to wear a suit it’s pretty straightforward to rent a tuxedo. In terms of style, black and white is a pretty timeless combo. But you can also go with dark suits or a bold coloured one. Just make sure the one you pick is a decent fit. Pocket squares, bow ties or a dress shirt are also a fun way to add a splash of individuality. You can also try to match with your date or your friends to add an extra bit of fun to your night! 

Who to take to your school prom

America has a lot to answer for. Its obsession with prom – and getting a date for said prom – has seeped into our British culture and it’s a lot. The problem is we Brits don’t really ‘date’ in college. We rely more on drunken mishaps, or attraction developing between friends. But when it comes prom-time we’re suddenly asked to break free from our social awkwardness and get a date for the evening. Here’s some advice. Even if you do manage to successfully find the lucky person, it may not be the American prom experience of your dreams. So don’t stress if you’re going it alone. If it makes you feel any better, Reese Witherspoon a.k.a. Elle Woods didn’t have a date to prom and bought her dad with her instead! So just think about doing prom like Elle thought of Harvard – What, like it’s hard? 

How to look good in school prom photos

No matter how incredible you think you look on prom night, this won’t stop the inevitable grimace whenever you look at the photos in the future. You’re pretty much guaranteed to ask yourself “what the hell was I thinking?” later on in life. But don’t lose all hope because this reaction can be mitigated in a few quick steps:

  • First and foremost, practise your pose and make sure you’re comfortable in your prom outfit. In our opinion the most flattering pose is: stand diagonally to the camera with one foot in front of another whilst turning your head to the side.
  • Avoid high-fashion unless you want the picture to date in less than a year. Wear something fun and fabulous; something you feel comfortable in and that makes you feel like you.

What to expect 

You’re celebrating the end of school – which is brilliant obviously. But remember it’s still school. So all the crap, the cliques and the teacher’s pets you’ve put up with for the past five years are still going to be there. It would be wonderful if everyone put secondary-school politics behind them for one beautiful evening. Maybe you have dreams of the geeks dancing with the popular kids or that the quietest person in the year will incomprehensibly be made Prom Queen – but, sadly, it might not happen.

Our tip? Don’t over romanticise it. You’ll have fun, sure, but unfortunately it’s likely to be like an average school day – just with non-alcoholic punch and a glitter ball. Fret not. There will be many wonderful parties in your adult life to enjoy, so don’t think of this as your only chance to shine.

Surviving the after-party

Forget the school prom – it’s all about the afterparty. Fun, but also filled with even more expectations. Mainly:

  • The pressure to have sex before going to college/university
  • The pressure to get absolutely plastered.

Having sex for the first time is a big decision that you only get to make once. It’s not something you should do to score social points, because you feel peer pressured, or because you’re trying to live up to some American stereotype. Taking that step should be done when YOU feel ready to and because YOU want to. Read more about becoming sexually active here.

And the drunkenness? Things can sometimes get pretty wild on prom night and some boozing is inevitable. But remember – prom is the last impression your college mates will have of you. Do you really want to be remembered as the person who puked all over their outfit or the ‘rebel’ who got seriously bold and yelled “I HATE ALL OF YOU?”

To avoid all of that, read our guide to safe drinking here. If you don’t feel like drinking at all, or if you’re teetotal, then that’s cool too and you can still have a great night, without the looming hangover.

Next Steps


school| virginity

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 07-Nov-2021