Alright, minor Oscars-related interruption, it's back to part #2 of my little prom dress series. This time I went for dresses that were between $200 and $300, with slightly more expensive accessories. I really like this price point between it's a little easier to a get more classic look. They might seem simple, but it's really expensive to get something that's simple and chic but also done really well.
Helmut Lang Bondage Jersey Dress, $233.99 from from $390 at saks.com, Elizabeth & James Penelope Dress, $218.99 down from $365 at saks.com, ABS Strapless Peplum Dress, $275 at saks.com: I know this Helmut Lang dress probably doesn't scream "Prom!" to anyone but me, but if you have a more casual prom and your aesthetic is more along the lines of edgy and sporty than glam and sparkly, this might be for you. There are some sheer panels on the back, ruching along the front, and an exposed zipper to add some extra oomph, and you could really wear it over and over. I love this Elizabeth & James dress. It has a punkish-ballerina vibe to it without being too '90s or over the top, and the aqua is a really fun, refreshing shade for a formal event, as is the notched neckline (instead of a typical sweetheart). I think you can tie the black ribbon a bunch of different ways, so you could get a lot of different looks out of this. I'd definitely wear this ABS dress. It might be my favorite. Peplums are making a serious comeback, and have a jaunty, almost Victorian feel that works really well with the clean lines of the rest of the dress. The strawberry pink hue is actually really flattering, and a nice alternative to your standard pink.
All J. Crew dresses: Seraphina Dress, $285 at jcrew.com, Silk Chiffon Taryn Dress, $215 at jcrew.com, Cotton cady Erica Dress, $225 at jcrew.com: J. Crew is a seriously underrated and amazing source for prom dresses. They have lots of affordable, simple pieces in a rainbow of colors that you can really wear over and over and over. This Seraphina dress is one of their more unique options--I adore the pale gold/nude shade, which is both totally unexpected and very understated chic, and the asymmetrically pleated chiffon looks really, really expensive. Throw on a thin, sparkly belt, and you'll be best-dressed, hands down. These other two dresses come in a Skittles bag of colors. I like this empire-waisted chiffon number because it's very simple and very girly. Empire waists can be tricky, since they aren't flattering on a lot of body types, but if you have the height and frame to pull it off it's very Juliet (from Romeo and Juliet, the Claire Danes version. Of course). This faded purple would be really fun with some sparkly accessories and statement heels. I'm not a huge fan of this third dress in that green, but it comes in a ton of other, more wearable colors. It's pretty much the most versatile dress over, and has pockets! Always a plus. I'd get it in black or navy and hem it 6-8 inches (to mitigate the bridesmaid vibe), and do it with a really bold belt.
BCBG Metallic-Jacquard Strapless Dress, $288 at bcbg.com, BCBG Floral-Print Strapless Dress, $248 at bcbg.com, Rachel Pally Long Cutout Dress, $238 at shopbop.com: This BCBG dress is so summery and girly, I love it. If you want to wear white to prom, this is a great way to do it. It's very light and clean, but not stark, thanks to the floral appliques and sweetheart neckline. The contrast of black at the waist keeps it from being too simple, and the hint of metallic sheen glams it up a bit. This floral dress is another one of my favorites. It's so offbeat, with the heavily pleated, asymmetrical panels of different florals, but it really looks very Abaete-meets-Luella. Aka crazy amazing. The triangular panels are actually very flattering, and create an anti-hourglass shape, and since there's so much pattern, you don't need to do much accessorizing. This is a great way to make a bold choice that you won't regret in five years. And now it's time for my one long dress. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of long dresses for prom, just because they can get really, really expensive. This Rachel Pally dress is very drop-dead-chic in an Angelina Jolie sort of way. It is a lot of black, but the cutout on the black keeps it from being heavy or aging, and if you added a sparkly necklace or some hardcore statement earrings and a similar bracelet, it would be so, so, so glamourous.
J. Crew Crystal Rock Bracelet, $85 at jcrew.com, Madewell Multi Chain & Rhinestone Necklace, $68 at shopbop.com, Fallon Jewelry Sinead Earrings, $99 at shopbop.com: I like picking one statement piece for a look like this. That way your jewelry stands out but doesn't detract from the dress too much. I love this bracelet not just for prom, but for daily life (my daily life, to be specific). The giant crystals are so over the top glam, and therefore contrast perfectly with the chains going around the bracelet. It would be amazing with the Rachel Pally dress, but also with a white tee and jeans (can you tell that I'm trying to find a way to justify buying it?). The same goes for this necklace. It would add the perfect amount of grungy glamour to a cocktail dress, with the mixture of rhinestones and chains, and the softly separated layers, but it would also be a fab counterpoint to a more casual dress (like the Helmut Lang dress. Does that make sense now?). Me want these earrings. They're a nice alternative to most statement earrings, which often have a serious Dynasty vibe. These feel almost Victorian, very hand-crafted and slightly antiqued. Since they're long but not that heavy, they'd move really well, and there's just enough sparkle.
Elegantly Waisted Haley Belt, $121 at shopbop.com, Steve Madden Caryssa Heels in Blush, $99.95 at stevemadden.com, Miu Miu Glitter-embellished Platform Heels, $595 at net-a-porter.com: For a lot of these dresses, a statement making belt is key. I like this Elegantly Waisted belt (love that brand name) because it ties in the back, which not only adds a little Old World charm but is actually totally practical for different dresses with different thicknesses. The embellishment in the front adds a ton of sparkle without being too blingy, and the braid-esque detail elevates to another level entirely. I know nude pumps sound a little odd for prom at first, but once you see their leg-lengthening abilities, you'll be a convert (I promise). The platform makes them comfier and adds another inch or two to your legs, and the blush pink hue is just skin-toned enough without making your feet look dead. These Miu Miu pumps aren't what I'd call practical, but they're so sparkly. So sparkly. Almost like Dorothy's ruby slippers in black and white as a tranny platform pump. Doesn't that sound lovely? These pumps + the Helmut Lang dress = I die.
Helmut Lang dress: saks.com, Elizabeth & James dress: saks.com, ABS dress: saks.com, J. Crew dresses: Seraphina dress: jcrew.com, Taryn dress: jcrew.com, Erica dress: jcrew.com, BCBG metallic dress: bcbg.com, BCBG floral dress: bcbg.com, Rachel Pally dress: shopbop.com, J. Crew bracelet: jcrew.com, Madewell necklace: shopbop.com, Fallon Jewelry earrings: shopbop.com, Elegantly Waisted belt: shopbop.com, Steve Madden heels: stevemadden.com, Miu Miu heels: net-a-porter.com.