Prom season is officially upon us and, whether you're shopping for yourself or a loved one, we know that the pressure to get everything just right — with a particular emphasis on the dress — is real.
From bright pinks to barely-there neutrals (and a few timeless styles along the way), read on as experts break down some of the biggest prom dress trends to look for this season and offer tips on how to style them.
We’ve also included some expert-approved prom dress picks starting at $58 to help get you started.
2019 PROM DRESS TRENDS
According to Sadie Murray, a style and beauty expert and founder of The Go-To Girlfriend, opting for a bright pink (think fuchsia, hot pink or magenta) is one of the easiest ways to get noticed this prom season.
“Not only was this palette flooding the red carpet at the Oscars earlier this year, but variations of the color look great on every skin tone,” said Murray.
She suggested keeping corresponding makeup natural and fresh as to not distract from the main event. “No need to compete with the vibrancy of the color you’re wearing.”
Expert Pick: Melora Magenta Sleeveless Maxi Dress, $91, Lulus
This gown from Lulu’s has a 4.5-star rating and over 400 reviews for its high-quality fabric and flattering fit. While we love the bright pink hue, there are also nine other shades — including more pinks and neutrals — for you to choose from.
If you’re not into pink, try making a bold statement with another solid hue, ideally with a high slit.
“A slit instantly adds drama and just enough of a flirtatious element to any dress. Not only is this right on point for 2019, but it’s a timeless look that your future (likely more stylish) self will thank you for when looking back at old high school photos,” explained Murray.
Eliza J Strapless Crepe Evening Dress, $168, Nordstrom
This crepe column gown from Eliza J combines saturated color (in this case a vibrant cobalt) and a side slit for a sleek look that will stand the test of time. Dress it up with a piece of statement jewelry (the strapless style is perfect for drop earrings).
Dress the Population Sandra Plunge Crepe Trumpet Gown, $288, Amazon
This high-slit, yet still high-class plunge trumpet-skirt gown from Dress the Population comes in a range of shades (we're loving this rich red), as well as plus sizes.
Another way to make a statement this season is with an understated neutral. “From Tom Ford to Max Mara, we saw an explosion of blush, nude, champagne and head-to-toe neutrals on the runways for spring,” said Murray of the “chic, ethereal and romantic” aesthetic.
Murray suggested opting for “a long, flowy fit with an extra touch that elevates the look like a texturized print or sequins.”
Sumintras Deep V-Neckline Spaghetti Strap Tulle Prom Dress, $60, Amazon
This creamy gold-hued gown, complete with a plunging neckline, free-flowing tulle skirt and open back, oozes glamour. Scoop it up in one of 16 shades for less than $60.
According to celebrity stylist and fashion expert Ali Levine, ballgowns are making a big comeback for 2019.
“I love ballgowns because they offer that classic fit and perfect flare that flatters every single body type. There are also many colors and prints so you have a range of options,” she said.
Look for one with concealed pockets so you can carry your essentials throughout the evening.
Expert Pick: Alfred Sung Strapless High/Low Satin Twill Ball Gown, $242, Nordstrom
This satin twill ball gown from Alfred Sung is the epitome of elegance. Not only does it include secret pockets for stashing, but we love the peek-a-boo hemline for showing off a bit of leg (and your new favorite shoes!).
There’s nothing like a little (or a lot of) sparkle to set the tone for a celebration and, according to Levine, they’re now more versatile than ever.
“Sequins have come a long way from when they first started. You used to see them covering a full gown, but now they’re offered in a range of cuts — from short bodycon dresses to two-pieces — and designs, including sequin-blocking along just the bodice or another focus area,” she explained.
Halter Long Sequin Formal Dress, $149, Simply Dresses
This black gown is covered in intricate sequin detailing from head to toe. It also features an and open back for added intrigue.
If you want to turn the shine up a notch, a metallic gown is another go-to for Kat LeBlanc, a Brooklyn-based wardrobe stylist and blogger behind Luxe LeBlanc.
“A red carpet favorite this past award season, gold and silver dresses have definitely found their way to the dance floor,” said LeBlanc.
For a more feminine touch, Levine’s personal favorite is rose gold. “You can never go wrong with it. It’s like a soft nude with a glam edge, and we’re seeing it from dresses to bags to everything in between,” she said.
Like with sequins, metallics can work well as full pieces or detailed elements so you should feel free to get creative.
Expert Pick: Elegant Encounter Sequin Maxi Dress, $100, Lulus
Pop the bubbly! This Lulu’s gown comes in champagne and rose hues and contains just the right amount of sparkle. It’s also fully lined so you don’t need to worry about any see-through slip-ups.
According to LeBlanc, an open back is one of those trends that should never go out of style.
“An open or detailed back adds an element of surprise and has the ability to spice up even the simplest of dresses," she said.
Strappy to be Here Maxi Dress, $58, Lulus
With close to 1,000 reviews and a near-perfect star rating, shoppers can’t get enough of this gown with its playful strappy back and comfortable fit. It’s also extremely versatile so this is another one you can expect to get more use out of (especially come wedding season).
Two piece prom dresses
If your style tends to read more nontraditional, or you tend to wear different sizes when it comes to tops and bottoms, you might want to look into separates, according to Renee Cafaro, U.S. Editor of SLiNK Magazine.
“Not only is this one of the edgier trends of the season, but separates are easier to rewear or even restyle for the afterparties," she said.
It's important to keep proportion in mind so the look still has shape and balance. "Go for a small body con or crop top if you choose a voluminous ball skirt (like this one from Asos)."
MaCloth Two-Piece Beaded Formal Evening Gown, $139-$151, Amazon
We love how the intricate beading on the top helps break up this two-piece style. Scoop it up in one of 13 shades and mix and match for afterparties and beyond.