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Monday Mailbag: Help With Prom

Dear Fashion Paramedic: I wasn’t sure if you were the right person to ask about this. Your name hints that you might be a helper to those who need assistance with fashion. But your blog is about being a mom. But you did sell jewerly before, so I’ll ask anyway. My parents don’t have a lot of money to buy me a nice dress for prom, but I want to look really nice. What should I do?

–Emily, Oxnard CA
Dear Emily: Yeah, I know I’m having a bit of an identity crisis here at my site. I’ll be reviving my status as a true Fashion Paramedic shortly, and I thank you for getting me back in the swing of things.

You sound like a sweet girl. The first rule of dressing for prom is to BE YOURSELF. Ever go to a friend’s house and see his/her parents’ wedding photo on the wall, and the bride in the picture looks NOTHING like the woman in real life? It’s because sometimes we get caught up in what we think looks right (an updo, overdone makeup, too much jewelry), instead of what we know is right–which is to be true to ourselves.

How do you dress on a normal, day-to-day basis? Do you wear flirty skirts? Jeans? How about your hair? Makeup? You need to consider these things before you go shopping, because if you’ve never worn a dress in your life, you don’t want to buy a dress that’s too complicated.

I understand that your parents may not have a lot of money to buy a swanky dress for you, and I’m proud to know that you’re aware of this and are not lashing out at them. Have you ever considered a dress swap with your friends? Or (don’t freak out about this one . . .) perhaps a 2nd-hand store? The one thing I always hated about prom was that the dresses were so expensive for an event that was only going to last a few hours. I used to swap dresses with friends all the time–I’d wear my own dress to my own school’s prom, then wear a friend’s dress to my boyfriend’s school. It always worked out. Back then, we didn’t have vintage clothes stores or Crossroads Trading Company.

Once you find something you like at a price your parents can afford, the next thing to remember is this: don’t let the dress wear you. YOU wear the dress.

After that, then just to go back to Rule #1: Be yourself. If you wear your hair straight and long, then keep your hair simple, and maybe throw a bit of curl into it. If you have short hair, add some volume, but don’t go experimenting with extensions. If you don’t usually wear makeup, then don’t pile it on just for prom. If the dress is simple, then accessorize with a few pieces of jewelry, but don’t leave the house looking like Mr. T. (I hope you know who that is . . . )

In other words, don’t let the excitement of prom or others’ opinions sway the way you think you should look. If you do, you’ll end up looking like the unrecognizable bride I spoke about earlier.

Be yourself. Have fun. And don’t forget to check in with your parents. We worry about you, you know!

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