How to Survive Prom Dress Shopping

Spring is here and with it the time-honored mother/daughter outing to find the perfect prom dress. An entire day of bonding—what could be better?

Well, a lot of things could if you make your trip into too big of a deal. For your daughter to have fun, and for you to survive with her, it can’t feel like more pressure. There’s already enough of that our high school kids. Shopping for a prom dress can be exciting, frustrating, scary, and for many girls—depressing.

Here are just a few tips to making the prom dress shopping a lovely time together:

Sky’s the Limit in the Dressing Room

Let her try anything on. It has sheer panels and too many cutouts? I hear that. Still, put it in the dressing room and let her have her dress-up fun. You both will need to compromise because I ‘m sure you will want her to try on dresses that she will think are too plain. That doesn’t mean you tell her she can have it, it more means having the conversation of where you draw the line later if she’s still attached to it after trying all the other types of gowns on. Most likely she’s going to know what she looks good in—and what you’ll pay for!

Narrow Down What Works

Have her try on many different styles: short dresses, long gowns, solid and print patterns, single strap, halter, and others to find out what looks great on her. Even if she doesn’t like the way a dress looks on the hanger go ahead and grab it. Pick out five completely different styles so you can narrow down what works for her height and body shape.

Ask For Help

Let the sales staff pick a few dresses for you. She might find a dress that you love, one that your daughter wouldn’t select herself—and would never try it on if you suggested it! Tell her to be adventurous, but remember that she needs to be able breathe, go to the bathroom and move in her outfit.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

Know what your absolute maximum budget is—prom dresses can be crazy expensive. Believe me, no dress will ever compare to the gorgeous twice-your-budget dress that your girl tries on. That conversation is best had before dress shopping and while picking out the dresses to try on. You don’t want her falling in love with a dress that she just can’t have. That won’t go well for either of you.

Focus on Fit, Not Size

Grab a few different sizes for her because dress sizes are not standard; one dress may fit perfectly and the same size dress of another brand could be too big or small. There are Juniors, Misses, petite, extra etc. Don’t focus or comment on the number—she may be sensitive to her size.

Don’t Forget the Shoes

If you remember, bring a pair of dress shoes or two. They don’t have to be the ones she is going to wear, but it will help you gauge whether the dress needs hemming and how it looks with varying heel heights. While you’re at it, bringing a few bra styles wouldn’t go amiss.

Lastly, have fun and enjoy your play time together. When she finds the right dress and you see her in the full-length mirror—wow, that’s a moment to savor right there.

Dana Baker

Dana Baker is a writer, a not-so-perfect mom of two and a Parent and Teen Coach. Founder of Parenting In Real Life, Dana knows first hand the challenges of raising a child with anxiety as well as ADHD and some depression. She understands the ups, the downs and the downright uglies and offers a reality check and a dose of good humor in her advice from the trenches. Dana has been featured in RealityMoms, Grown & Flown,, Thrive Global, and ADDitude. You can find more about Dana on Parenting in Real Life.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply