Tailor-Make the Perfect Prom Dress

Think of your professional tailor as your local full-service fairy godmother, the seamstress who works magic on your prom dress, making it completely and uniquely you.

No matter how much you love and idolize her, you are not Lady Gaga, nor is Middlefield High School’s Senior Prom the fashion equivalent of the Emmys and Oscars. Keep prom in proportion, focusing more on fun and function than fashion and photography. Try to remember the long-standing definition of “elegance”-just enough of just the right stuff. This year, “elegance” means letting fabrics speak louder than frills; and it always has meant fit and finish matter more than sparkle. Therefore, work with an experienced tailor to find a fabric that flatters not only your shape but also your skin tone and texture. Let your tailor custom-fit your dress so that it caresses your curves and moves with you as you walk and dance.

Do not wear what’s trendy. Wear what’s you.

If you carefully and critically watch the red carpet shows, you understand that a designer’s signature does not automatically guarantee a great look. If you supplement your viewing with “Fashion Police,” you surely know how Armani, Givenchy, Dolce and Gabana, and Chanel can screw up just as royally as the army-navy surplus store. The more you understand about your own signature style, and the more you collaborate with a trustworthy tailor, the more you protect against fashion faux pas and guarantee a perfect prom fashion statement. Especially keep in mind that “outrageously expensive” is not synonymous with “wonderfully stylish.”

Of course, you should pay attention to fashion-especially in your shoes, jewelry, and hairstyle. The idea is, however, to make the fashions fit you, not to make yourself fit the fashions. Although it may seem like two versions of the same idea, you want people to say, “That dress looks great on you!” You do not want them to say, “You look great in that dress,” because that would imply the dress has stolen your show. Apply another simple rule of thumb, too: When you look nostalgically at your prom pictures twenty years from now, you do not want to scream in horror, “OMG! I looked soooo 2011!” Instead, you want to mist-up and smile, thinking, “Such a pretty dress. A classic.”

Practical advice for prom-dress designers

Naturally, you must protect yourself against every girl’s prom nightmare: some other girl shows up wearing exactly the same dress over which you agonized for hours… and she looks better in it than you do. When you work with a skilled tailor to customize the dress according to your standards and body, you immunize yourself against imitation.

You also should allow a little room for practicality. Unlike the women model-walking the red carpet, you do not have a little wardrobe pit-crew arranging your train and making sure your wardrobe tapes are working. The less routine maintenance your dress requires, the happier your prom night will be. Try to remember that you will be eating, drinking, and visiting the rest room through the course of your evening, and you should allow for those functions in your dress design.

Finally, make sure the Dean of Students will not have issues with your dress, asking your professional tailor to double-check the dress for compliance with the dress code. You know how sensitive those teachers and administrators are about d├ęcolletage.

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