Teens today are so individualistic that the “perfect” prom dress for them may be long or short, new or from a vintage store.

But as high school girls turn their attention to prom this year, they’ll find many dresses focusing on a feature that has not received much attention in past years: the back.

“Backless, or dresses with backs that have straps, sequins and cutouts are what’s in,” says Brittney Howard, the special occasion dress manager for Dillard’s in Charlotte, N.C. “Last year it was high-low hemlines.”

Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk, describes the trend as back drama.

A secondary trend is a gown with a peplum, a reflection of the current popularity of the retro style that’s a short overskirt attached at the waist.

Whatever the style, Goldstein’s advice to prom gown shoppers? “Be open to newness, but put fit first,” she said. “And comfort is key. It’s going to be a long night if your dress is pinching or pulling!”

Prom hair

A casual survey of hair stylists reveals that Pinterest pages and the hairstyles of celebrities, including Taylor Swift’s sweet-yet-sophisticated ponytail at the 2014 Grammy Awards (left), are inspiring prom hair trends. And forget the days of girls bringing in pages ripped from magazines. They just hold up their smartphones to show the perfect prom tresses they’re hoping to achieve.

Face time

When it comes to makeup for prom, many girls want an amped up look of their everyday preferences. “If she’s used to wearing makeup, she wants something more dramatic and maybe a smoky eye,” said Diane Andersen, a Clinique makeup counter manager. “If she’s not used to wearing makeup, she wants just enough to enhance her features.”

The day of prom, Andersen said, it’s not unusual to have girls coming by her counter to get their makeup done. “It’s good because at that age they’re concerned with how their skin looks so it’s a chance to talk to them about taking care of their skin, and if they end up buying a product, that’s great.”

Twinkle toes

As with dresses, the style of shoes girls choose for prom can range from sneakers and flat slippers or sandals to platform heels. Amani Dooley-Wilkes, the women’s assistant buyer for Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, said what’s most popular for prom are heels with intricate and sparkling details. “[Teen girls] love sequins, glitter and beading and are open to a platform or single sole,” she said.

When it comes to color, they’re gravitating toward iridescent silver material, “Tiffany” blue, pinks and gold.

“I think these trends are popular because they’re very flattering on the foot and give her some coverage at the same time, and they complement any dress,” she said.


There was a time when teens wouldn’t dare show up to prom without a date. Now groups of girls and boys who are friends often go together in packs. Does that signal the end of the once ubiquitous boutonniere for the boy and wrist corsage for the girl? Not according to Connie Proctor, owner of a flower shop in Charlotte. In her six years working for the florist, she hasn’t noticed a decrease in orders.

“Mothers drive this trend – they still want the flowers that match the dress, so they’re the ones who call in the order,” Proctor said.

What is new is the shunning of the white elastic band on wrist corsages.

“The trend now is to build the corsage around a bracelet – a single strand rhinestone bracelet or a larger cuff bracelet – and then the girl has a keepsake from the evening that she can wear,” Proctor said.