Prom.Dress.

Two very little words… one terrifying prospect for a tall teenage girl.

What with this being a British blog, I really ought to refer to the end-of-school celebration as a “leavers’ ball”. But with everything in our oldey-worldey language becoming so Americani(z)ed of late (damn you Statesiders infiltrating our stuffy little brains with your infectiously happy Glee club…!), most British teenagers nowadays are counting down the days until their prom.

When I was at school, people really went to town. For some reason, the arrival of the school prom (rather like a wedding I suppose), meant that all sense of taste and decency could be thrown out the window, and all awareness of what was actually fashionable could be cast aside and replaced with a curly up-do and a sparkly tiara. And why the ruddy hell not? It’s the only time before your wedding day that you get to look like a fairy princess.

In our school, we had a “May Ball”. It happened in sixthform, at the end of term as study-leave kicked off and before the onslaught of A-Levels. Finding a long gown was – in all honesty – a rather joyless task. After traipsing around Debenhams, John Lewis and every other department store that Oxford street had to offer, my poor, despairing mum asked “Why can’t you just wear a short dress?”

Cue steam coming out of my ears. “Because no one else will.” (I’m sure your own mothers have witnessed the steam…).

I realise from talking to teenagers nowadays that the school prom I used to know and dread – ahem, love — has got a bit cooler. There are short dresses, even trousers. Hell, I spoke to one teenage girl who wore jeans to hers. JEANS. But there are still a few glamour-pusses out there who (understandably) take the whole fashion parade very seriously. For those girls, only a floor-sweeper will do.

My prom-induced shopping nightmare thankfully ended with me buying a sparkly black satin corset from Karen Millen, for which my lovely Auntie Anne made a matching black satin skirt with a fishtail train. (In truth it wasn’t exactly matching… but it was damn well good enough). It was so long that I almost fell over it several times, but I didn’t care. I felt like that fairy princess. (Well, at least I would have done, had my horrible boyfriend not dumped me the week before and left me dateless).

My Prom outfit (right). Alas, I was outshone by my friend Rory's outfit, and have been ever since.

Why discuss proms in November? Because when you’re a tall woman, preparation is key. Especially with something as earth-shatteringly important as a school leavers’ ball. With emotions already running high as you realise you chose all the wrong subjects for your final exams and don’t really know what the hell you’re going to do with your life, it’s a daunting time. Now try and find a dress that’s long enough to cover your tootsies as well. Leaving things to the last minute can result in a great deal of heartache.

I’ve included some pictures of long-length maxi dresses (because herein lies the biggest challenge). That’s not to say that I wouldn’t advocate rocking a cute little 50s frock or a sequin-drenched mini. It just depends on your dress code. (For shorter dresses with a generous cut, ATTT reader Alison recommends heading to Karen Millen, Phase Eight or Ted Baker… good tip).

You can also glam up some of the below dresses with some statement costume jewellery (my absolute fave place for affordable gems is Glitzy Secrets… I got some of my wedding rocks from there)…

Or, as lovely Lisa shrewdly suggests on our Facebook page, you could always pop into a bridal shop and get a bridesmaid dress made up to fit your proportions exactly. Bridesmaid emporium Dessy has a huge selection of styles and colours… there’s bound to be something that tickles your fancy.

And what about the footwear? The great thing about rocking a maxi, is that if you do feel self-conscious wearing heels, then you can wear flats without dressing down your outfit. (I tend to wear bejewelled flat sandals with a floor-length dress). But if you’ve chosen a short number… I say go with the heels. Make those legs look even more fabulous and give your classmates something to remember you by.

So don’t panic school leavers. By my reckoning, you’ve got at least six months to go until D-Day, and therefore plenty of time to find the gown of your dreams.

L xx

P.S. Just don’t spend the night crying about your horrible ex-boyfriend who dumped you the week before, drink ten too many Smirnoff Ices, and then follow your physics teacher round the ballroom while professing your undying love for him. That would just be stupid.

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13 Responses to Prom.Dress.

  1. I went to a million bridal shops and at 5″11 I was the only girl there that didn’t have to stand on the little box to make it sit on the ground!

    They make bridal dresses much much longer (/PERFECT for us tallies) so that they can tailor it to the right length. After all it’s a lot easier to take it up than add extra material to the bottom- however my friend did have this done and it looked great! Definitely give them a try, you never know you might get lucky like I managed to! 🙂

  2. My prom dress was a complete one-off. I knew finding a dress would be a tricksy job so I made it simpler and had it made too. Did you know that as well as the fabulous fashion bible that is the September issue, Vogue also sell dress making patterns? I picked the dress design I wanted from a catalogue of patterns at my local haberdashery and they helped advise me choose the perfect material. Then they hooked me up with a lovely lady who made it up so that it fit me perfectly (even with heels!). What those women didn’t know about dressmaking wasn’t worth knowing – and all told it cost less that a dress from Coast might’ve. Still love it now 🙂

  3. Nice suit! Liked the article, it’s amazing how simple things like picking out a prom dress can be so challenging if you’re tall. It’s a way of life…

  4. I was really lucky and found a gorgeous prom dress in a local dress shop that was the perfect length, and I wore these little jewelled flip flops because you couldn’t see my feet anyway. I did fin, though, that Ebay sell a lot of made to measure dresses that are really nice, and reasonably priced. As someone else said, a lot of dresses are made longer so they can be taken up or worn with heels. I would definitely reccomend flats, though, I lasted all night! I refused to wear a short dress just because I wanted to feel like a princess haha 😀 I actually brought the second dress I tried on, I was so lucky!

  5. I’m having a similar problem right now, on the hunt for a dress for my work Christmas party. I’m not after a ball gown, just a good party dress, but I have yet to find anything that actually covers my behind!! So many gorgeous dresses out there, but they’re short on normal-size girls… On me, AVERT YOUR EYES. If anyone has found any decent-length party dresses out there I am all ears!

  6. Emma, have you tried looking on the Next Tall website? They have quite a few really nice dresses, you should definitely look. 🙂

  7. Lauren, do you want to be my date for the party? Found THE perfect dress, delivery due in a fortnight. Thank you so much!! X

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