Prom time is prime time for teenagers to splurge on outfits of their dreams.

Given that freedom (and possibly a financial contribution from their parents), one might expect high schoolers to attend one of the biggest social events of the year as wannabe hip-hop or rock stars.

Surprisingly, though, trendy teens who normally wear wear low-waisted jeans and logo-filled loungewear get their prom night inspiration elsewhere: from old Hollywood, where demure gowns made of draped satin and carefully coiffed updos ruled the red carpets.

“I think there is a definite prom feeling when it comes to clothes, and that hasn’t changed in 15 years. But there is so much more being offered now, and at incredible price points,” says stylist Kirsten Siggins, who has put together an online runway show for RED, AOL’s teen service. “Prom night will look a lot like the Oscars and Golden Globes. Kids have access to all that now.”

Siggins expects to see glamorous gowns in bright and bold yellow, purple and blue. There’ll be romantic looks, too, including delicate, flowing dresses, she says.

According to Siggins, teenage girls are taking their fashion cues from stars such as Charlize Theron, who wore a girlie blue strapless gown to the Oscars, and Beyonce, who went for a “fairy princess look” in a sweetheart-neckline black velvet gown by Versace, a departure from the racier Roberto Cavalli and Dolce & Gabbana dresses she’s worn in the past.

More alternative looks are coming from Gwen Stefani and Sienna Miller, but Siggins expects their influence to be in vintage or thrift-store touches, such as draped pearl necklaces or brooches. “Go raid your grandmother’s or mother’s closets.”

Another twist could be classic prom silhouettes in more casual fabrics. Polo Jeans Co., which falls under the umbrella of Ralph Lauren, is offering a strapless gown with traditional details, including a corset top and a long train, in denim.

The princess prom look is so universal, Siggins explains, because most girls do have the fantasy of being Cinderella for just one night. When else are they all going to have an opportunity to wear a ballgown, gloves and a tiara?

For a more modern look, though, Siggins recommends girls wear an of-the-moment grosgrain or satin ribbon as a headband instead of the tiara. Fresh flowers in the hair also are a nice touch – and they could be a replacement for that corsage.

Other ways to update a classic prom look include wearing brightly colored or leopard print high heels.

“Don’t make everything matchy-matchy. … It’s not rebeling against prom, but there are all these alternatives where you can look amazing and beautiful and completely acceptable,” says Siggins.

Teenage boys are unlikely to stray too far from traditional tuxedos, especially with “Alfie” and “Ocean’s Twelve” fresh in their minds, she says, but youthful accessories, such as colored T-shirts or classic Converse sneakers, would let boys put their own stamp on their outfit. White shoes, which Siggins claims is a popular look with teens, and skinny ties are other options.

“I think boys should have more fun with it (their outfit). The girls will appreciate it, within reason,” she says.

Since most girls do expect their dates to show up looking somewhat like classic Ken dolls, though, Siggins says boys who are planning something really outlandish should offer a forewarning.

“If you’re going to go a different route, just alert your date. But do keep the look your own.”

She adds: “I think kids care about what they look like every day but even more so for prom. People do go the extra mile for prom.”


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