How to Dress for Your School Dance's Theme Without Being a Cliché

Are you the type of person who sees your school dance's theme as a useful guideline or an annoying restriction?

While there's no rule that says you have to stick to the theme to look amazing at the dance, it can certainly add an element of excitement—not to mention cohesion—to the whole event. At the same time, you don't want to wear the same old boring thing as everyone else simply because you wanted to follow along.

Where's the happy medium? We have a few tips that'll help you follow the theme, with being a walking cliché.

Go for Unique Silhouettes

There's so much more to a dress than just the color and fabrics. The silhouette is also a crucial factor in the way it looks, and how you'll feel wearing it. For themes that are a bit magical and full of whimsy, you may want to try a ballgown shape, while a theme that's about elegance and refinement might pair well with a trumpet or A-line dress. Sleek column dresses are perfect for a more serious and polished look. And while you might not be the only one at your underwater-themed formal in a mermaid dress, we still think it'super appropriate and won't fault you for wearing one, too. Once you've nailed the silhouette, you can play around with unique colors and finishes, so you fit the theme without it being too blatant.

Shutterstock: Woman wearing sequined silver mermaid dress

(via Shutterstock)


Don't Go Over-the-Top With Accessories

Accessories can be your best friend when it comes to matching your theme, but it's critical to keep a sense of balance. If your dress is already the perfect embodiment of the theme, too many on-theme accessories are going to be overkill. If that's the case, wear neutral accessories that complement your outfit stylistically, instead. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if your dress doesn't match the theme at all, you can fool everyone into thinking it does with the right set of cutely themed add-ons.


Think Outside the Box With Color

Do certain colors immediately jump to mind when you think of your dance's theme? If so, your best bet might be to avoid them. For example, your "under the sea" dance is going to be an ocean of blues, aquas and seafoams, so contrast that with vibrant coral pinks or bold oranges to represent the life under the sea without simply blending in. Stand out in the crowd with a complementary tone that still fits.

Shutterstock: Woman wearing coral pink prom dress looking out window

(via Shutterstock)


Let Outfits Speak to You

If you have the time (and love shopping around), break your dress hunt into various sections over multiple days, keeping your dance's theme in mind as you look at each and every piece you look at. Some dresses will scream your theme, but you won't want to necessarily go for those. That's what everyone will be looking for, and you're likely to run into a dress copycat if that's the case. Instead, pay close attention and see if something feels like it's subtly calling to you. When you find the dress that's right for you, you'll know it.


Show Off Your Individuality

Always remember that your dance's theme is a rough guideline, and you can keep it in mind the whole time you search for your dress and never find something that's quite right for you and it. When all else fails, just wear the dress that inspires you most. It should make you feel cute, confident and empowered, above all else. Plus, if you ignore the theme entirely, you probably won't bump into anyone in the same dress.

Shutterstock: Stepping onto dance floor at prom with falling balloons

(via Shutterstock)


Not even sure if a dress is right for you? Click HERE for five things you can wear to the school dance that aren't dresses.