By Zoe Whittall
Photography by Francisco Garcia
Styling by Danielle Maresca

It may happen in the gymnasium, the local arena, a community center, or even a hotel but no matter where your limo takes you, prom is far more than a high school dance. And whether you have a date on your arm or go stag with pals, it’s a chance to rock your most sophisticated look and create the kind of memories and hilarious ‘remember when?’ anecdotes you’ll reference well into adulthood. Whether you’re the classic girl in the kicky cocktail dress, the triple threat in your Old Hollywood glamor, or the manic pixie in her vintage best, this is your night.

My most vivid memories of prom (which was long enough ago to have forgotten the butterflies, but not so long ago that I can’t remember what color my nails were) aren’t the sweetheart neckline v. striking white gown debates leading up to the day, but are the times I spent getting ready with friends and the sounds that the limo pumped out as the exhilarating soundtrack to our pre-party circuit. Even the father-daughter dance in the hotel ballroom – the one I was sure was going to be the cheesiest thing ever – turned out to be an emotional and reflective moment of significance. (Perhaps not quite as memorable as the drunk kid who threw a television out of a hotel window later that night, but I digress.)

Here’s my suggested pre-prom ritual; Perhaps while exfoliating and leafing through magazines a few weeks before the big day, revisit some prom classics on celluloid for inspiration. Do you want to wear Converse sneakers like Bella in Twilight? Would you choose Blaine over Duckie if you were the star of your own contemporary Pretty in Pink? And trust me. You’ll never worry about your prom again after witnessing some young Sissy Spacek rage in the classic horror flick, Carrie.

Prom can be one of those events that falls victim to New-Year’s-Eve syndrome, where the pressure for it to be best night of your life heaps on too many expectations of epic greatness. Listen when I tell you — let it ride. Be present in the moment and celebrate passing calculus finally or getting into the college that you wanted to, or landing just the right summer job. Skip the drama and order a round of appreciation for the ones who got you through your first dates and your most difficult exams before you all scatter out into the real world, which, in and of itself, is a pretty epic happening. Decide what would make you most happy and not what you think the ritual calls for.

My boyfriend and I broke up a couple of weeks before the big day and I ended up going to my prom with a guy friend and our group of besties. We had a blast. I have never looked back and thought ‘Man, I missed out on a date with whatshisname.’ And I always remember that I sent off my teen years in style with the ones most precious to me.

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