Prom.Dress.

Two very little words… one terrifying prospect for a tall teenage girl.

What with this being a British blog, I really ought to refer to the end-of-school celebration as a “leavers’ ball”. But with everything in our oldey-worldey language becoming so Americani(z)ed of late (damn you Statesiders infiltrating our stuffy little brains with your infectiously happy Glee club…!), most British teenagers nowadays are counting down the days until their prom.

When I was at school, people really went to town. For some reason, the arrival of the school prom (rather like a wedding I suppose), meant that all sense of taste and decency could be thrown out the window, and all awareness of what was actually fashionable could be cast aside and replaced with a curly up-do and a sparkly tiara. And why the ruddy hell not? It’s the only time before your wedding day that you get to look like a fairy princess.

In our school, we had a “May Ball”. It happened in sixthform, at the end of term as study-leave kicked off and before the onslaught of A-Levels. Finding a long gown was – in all honesty – a rather joyless task. After traipsing around Debenhams, John Lewis and every other department store that Oxford street had to offer, my poor, despairing mum asked “Why can’t you just wear a short dress?”

Cue steam coming out of my ears. “Because no one else will.” (I’m sure your own mothers have witnessed the steam…).

I realise from talking to teenagers nowadays that the school prom I used to know and dread – ahem, love — has got a bit cooler. There are short dresses, even trousers. Hell, I spoke to one teenage girl who wore jeans to hers. JEANS. But there are still a few glamour-pusses out there who (understandably) take the whole fashion parade very seriously. For those girls, only a floor-sweeper will do.

My prom-induced shopping nightmare thankfully ended with me buying a sparkly black satin corset from Karen Millen, for which my lovely Auntie Anne made a matching black satin skirt with a fishtail train. (In truth it wasn’t exactly matching… but it was damn well good enough). It was so long that I almost fell over it several times, but I didn’t care. I felt like that fairy princess. (Well, at least I would have done, had my horrible boyfriend not dumped me the week before and left me dateless).

My Prom outfit (right). Alas, I was outshone by my friend Rory's outfit, and have been ever since.

Why discuss proms in November? Because when you’re a tall woman, preparation is key. Especially with something as earth-shatteringly important as a school leavers’ ball. With emotions already running high as you realise you chose all the wrong subjects for your final exams and don’t really know what the hell you’re going to do with your life, it’s a daunting time. Now try and find a dress that’s long enough to cover your tootsies as well. Leaving things to the last minute can result in a great deal of heartache.

I’ve included some pictures of long-length maxi dresses (because herein lies the biggest challenge). That’s not to say that I wouldn’t advocate rocking a cute little 50s frock or a sequin-drenched mini. It just depends on your dress code. (For shorter dresses with a generous cut, ATTT reader Alison recommends heading to Karen Millen, Phase Eight or Ted Baker… good tip).

You can also glam up some of the below dresses with some statement costume jewellery (my absolute fave place for affordable gems is Glitzy Secrets… I got some of my wedding rocks from there)…

Or, as lovely Lisa shrewdly suggests on our Facebook page, you could always pop into a bridal shop and get a bridesmaid dress made up to fit your proportions exactly. Bridesmaid emporium Dessy has a huge selection of styles and colours… there’s bound to be something that tickles your fancy.

And what about the footwear? The great thing about rocking a maxi, is that if you do feel self-conscious wearing heels, then you can wear flats without dressing down your outfit. (I tend to wear bejewelled flat sandals with a floor-length dress). But if you’ve chosen a short number… I say go with the heels. Make those legs look even more fabulous and give your classmates something to remember you by.

So don’t panic school leavers. By my reckoning, you’ve got at least six months to go until D-Day, and therefore plenty of time to find the gown of your dreams.

L xx

P.S. Just don’t spend the night crying about your horrible ex-boyfriend who dumped you the week before, drink ten too many Smirnoff Ices, and then follow your physics teacher round the ballroom while professing your undying love for him. That would just be stupid.

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