What to Wear?

Chengli Payton ’25

Semi-formal and prom season is upon us! Given all the excitement surrounding these events and how trends pop up (and wilt) like daisies these days, it begs the question: what should I even wear anymore?

You might also be asking, “What are my fashion tastes?” or, “What will look good on me?” As always, it’s best to do a little light research and reflection before making any purchases. In this article, I will include ten of my favorite tips that you can take advantage of for semi, prom, or any old day!

1. What exactly are the fashions?!

We’ve all heard of trends and micro-trends. I’m not the most eco-friendly person in the world, but I am realizing that even little efforts add up to big changes. So, my best advice is that, if you’re unsure of the trends, stick to a classic look. While there is some merit in experimenting, wearing something timeless is always in! Staple pieces can be on the pricier side, but pay dividends if you’re willing to forego some trends and take a little extra time to be picky with your wardrobe.

2. Where should I go?

The endless lines at the mall are daunting, the dressing rooms are too small, and the mirrors are warped. (For that matter, stores like Aritzia don’t even have mirrors!) Equally so, the mind-numbing scrolling online is demotivating and, quite frankly, depressing. I get it! For this issue, I say split your time equally. Go online first, and start thinking of what styles you are looking for. If you get lucky and find an outfit on the first Google search, congratulations! (And in that case, can you be my stylist?) But if you’re still left searching after you’ve been online for hours, clear your head and try the stores!

3. Consider your silhouette

This advice on where to shop leads me to the following: consider your silhouette. When you go onto or, for example, save yourself the headache by filtering for the size and occasion you are shopping for. And while we all enjoy seeing Pinterest photos of slim bodycon dresses or flowy floral, different styles are flattering on different people and that is okay! This website here describes (primarily feminine) body shapes and offers suggestions on what shapes might work best for you. However, these are merely suggestions, so don’t be afraid to try a different or bolder style from the guidelines.

4. Spring, winter, autumn, and summer!

Another suggestion that might help you feel confident in your clothing (and makeup!) choices is to shop for your skin tone rather than shopping for your silhouette, which can prove difficult. I am no artist, but I have learned that color analysis truly makes all the difference in an outfit and makeup, even what metal of jewelry you like best. As I have said before, don’t be afraid to go outside of all these guidelines, but if you find yourself struggling, by all means, go with these recommendations! The website here offers wonderful insight into color analysis and understanding your skin and hair’s tones.

5. Functionality is key

In a perfect world, I would like to think that functionality is more important than form. Of course, we’ve always been stunned by a beautiful gown or outfit but are disappointed that it lacked pockets or the material kept sagging down. Just like how you can find your most flattering silhouette, let functionality be important to your outfit! You are an individual, so don’t let the dress wear you, but wear it instead!

6. Thrifting is fun!

And as spending money on new purchases might not be in your budget, consider thrifting. Thrifting, as my friends say, can be tiring, but practice makes perfect. By keeping an open mind, there are truly some hidden gems in thrift stores. While such thrifts might be better suited for everyday apparel, not a prom gown, you would be surprised at the types of items that are thrifted! Another popular option that is tried and true is Rent the Runway. This site is subscription-based, or you can opt for a one-time rental, but it is very sustainable because you can literally rent a dress and return it after the big event. Each garment arrives dry-cleaned and checked meticulously for signs of wear and tear, so there is no need to fear!

7. Ask a friend!

Who would we be without our friends? I wouldn’t be the same without them or their valuable advice. So before an event or just as a catch-up moment, spend a day with your friend window-shopping! Bonus points if you can try on outfits and get their advice!

8. Get creative! 

Okay, so maybe learning to sew isn’t exactly reasonable for those with busy schedules, but learning to sew a button or hem a skirt gets you results when you’re in a pinch. The worst thing is when a tailor’s fee ends up costing just as much or more than the garment itself! If you are looking for beginner sewing guides, take a trip to your local JOANN Fabrics store, and the perpetually helpful workers there will always be willing to help you. Also, more bonus points here if you can take a family member with you who knows how to sew. I find that, as with asking friends for help, expertise in-person instead of through internet videos can be invaluable when it comes to fashion and sewing!

9. Google It!!

One of my favorite tech-savvy tips is found in the free, simple, smart Google app. With the technology of “Google Lens,” you can simply scan a photo or screenshot of a garment you like. Thanks to the powers that be (AI, I guess?), Google will supplement your photo with lookalike photos and links to purchase them. It’s also a great way to find similar outfits and compare prices. And if I had to guess, the most fashionable people out there are also very business-minded!

10. Have fun with it!

While there are a lot of things to sweat in life (and high school!), remember that fashion is only a small part of who you are. It doesn’t define you— it only accentuates and adds to you! Whatever you choose to wear, rock it with pride. Hopefully these little tips can help you gain even more confidence!

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All AOSE Press Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • A

    Ava PetreccaJan 31, 2024 at 10:26 am

    Wow, whenever I go shopping I always shop for what is trendy and will fit my body but I have never considered shopping for my skin tone before. And I agree it is so important to not let the dress wear you and to find a dress that you would feel confident and beautiful in!