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It's one occasion that most girls look forward to their entire lives. Even for those who haven't stepped foot into high school yet, the one event that is always on their minds is prom.

Prom season 2011 has officially begun and there are many details that have to be arranged before the big night. There is one decision that seems to stand out above all others -- what will you wear for the big night? There are countless options to the point that it can be overwhelming. From various dress styles to shoes and all the accessories in between, girls (and boys) are sure to find a look that fits their style and ensure a fantastic evening.

Often when girls picture their ideal prom dress, the first aspect that comes to mind is the color. No matter which color in the spectrum is your favorite, be sure to pick a bold shade. Bright colors can be very eye-catching. Popular colors in stores this year are dramatic pinks and yellows. Although pastel colors are still very elegant, bold colors will grab the most attention on the dance floor.

Another big question when it comes to prom dress basics is whether to go for a solid color or a vibrant pattern. Over the past couple of years, designers have come out with dress collections with animal prints, vivid florals and retro patterns with definite lines and shapes. Don't be afraid to try on some of the striking patterns; the dress often looks different on you than it does on the hanger.

No matter which style is selected, check out the dress' sparkly details. Another big trend this year is dresses with beads and rhinestones. Even just a bit of shine on the dress can pull the entire look together.

With prom being one of few occasions that girls can wear long, fancy gowns, they often take full advantage of the opportunity. The style remains very popular each year, but 2011 is a huge year for the ball gown. When it comes to the poofy dress, specialty prom shops such as TT New York (Eastern Hills, Boulevard and McKinley malls) and Maram's Dress Shop (Main Street in Williamsville) will guarantee that you will be the only one at your school with the specific dress you select.

Some schools hold dinner dances similar to a prom, but they are slightly less formal. In such cases, guests often will wear shorter dresses. A popular fashion trend this year is a full skirt for knee-length dresses. This way, it's more formal than the standard cocktail dress without paying the price of a traditional prom dress. Also, there are more shoe options since they aren't hidden under the dress.

After trying on the dress, it may not be as perfect as you had hoped. Maybe it is too long or short. When examining it, you may feel as if it could use an extra strap or it would look better without an extra layer. At that point, there certainly is no need to give up because alterations can be made. It's common that one alteration can change the entire look of the dress, guaranteeing that it fits your unique style. Some stores or local seamstresses can turn your purchase into your dream gown. Just confirm an appointment as soon as possible since this is a busy season and you want to make sure that it's ready for the big night.

The hunt for the perfect prom dress can be quite time consuming. For a more efficient method of shopping, hundreds of different designers and stores sell dresses online. When searching on the Internet, there is more variety and it often provides options that aren't even available in the store. Some are cautious when shopping online because they are unsure how the dress will fit in person, but if enough time is given, the option to modify it is always available. It's a risk that a shopper may take in order to find a dress unlike any other they've seen in local shops.

Another huge factor to take into consideration when purchasing a prom dress is the price. It's a once, or twice, in a lifetime event so it's understandable if a shopper is willing to splurge on an expensive gown. Putting it into another perspective, remember the dress will be worn for one night. As guys have the option of renting tuxedoes, girls are now able to rent a dress. An online website called Rent the Runway (renttherunway.com) makes this possible, offering designer dresses at much lower prices. The shopper has the option of renting the dress for four or eight days and two sizes will be shipped to make sure that it will work for the event.

Girls have many details to figure out before the evening finally arrives, but guys still have their fair share of preparation as well. A cummerbund or vest should be worn with a tuxedo, but not both. When deciding on which type of tie to wear, there isn't a wrong answer. Bow ties are always in style. When going with a longer tie, pick a skinny one. Also, try a pocket square to match the color of the girl's dress. If her dress has been hemmed, ask to have the cut-off material to provide a perfect match.

It may seem like the school year is never-ending, but in less than two months summer will arrive. Now is the time to be thinking about all of the details that go into prom as the big event is quickly approaching. Don't wait until the last minute with any plans to make sure your evening is everything you hoped it would be.

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Natalie Foster is a senior at Williamsville East High School.