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Opinion: How to dress for Prom (Boys)

Published March 19, 2013

Here is Spencer Carlson surrounded by examples of what not to wear to Prom. These are suits, boys. Photo by Kate Marinkovich.

Here is Spencer Carlson surrounded by examples of what not to wear to Prom. These are suits, boys, not tuxedos. Photo by Kate Marinkovich.

The number of boys who fail to follow the relatively simple and straightforward procedures of Prom dress every year is simply astounding. Perhaps it is out of ignorance, or perhaps lack of caring. No matter the cause, this ill conceived tradition must end now. This is your guide to how to dress for Prom. Follow it carefully, and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Boys, the only appropriate attire for you to wear to Prom is a tuxedo. That is, unless your suit is Gucci. Which it won’t be. So wear a tux. The tuxedo is a man’s formal party wear, which makes it exactly the correct thing to wear to an event like Prom.

Tuxedo

But just wearing any tux isn’t enough. It is important that you remember that unless you are a fashion maven who knows exactly what he is doing, your tux will be black. Not brown, not grey, and certainly not powder blue. We know that Google will tell you that white is often considered a more formal color of tux than black. But if you rent a white tux for Prom it is quite possible that you will look like a cocky fool, because rented tuxedos hardly ever fit as well as they should. So please, do yourself a favor and wear a black tux.

After that, the most important thing is that everything you are wearing fits as well as possible. When you go to rent your tux, tell them you are looking for a modern fit. Otherwise, it will likely be too loose on you, and you will look like you’re wearing your dad’s clothes. We are serious about this. Fit is the single thing that, if done wrong, will look the worst.

Shirt

Next is your shirt. Again, it should fit you! Shirts for tuxedos can have pleats or not — that’s your personal choice. If you are looking for a more safe, traditional look, go with a pleated shirt. If you want a more sleek, modern look, then go for a non-pleated shirt. Another choice you might have is the cuff type: french or barrel. Barrel cuffs are the kind of cuffs you will find on any buttoned shirt you probably own. French cuffs are the kind of cuffs Donald Trump has on his shirts. Again, this is your choice. Next, collars: there are many different kinds of collars on shirts, but you will only be concerned by one major distinction: wing-tipped collar or lay down collar (you will recognize this as a normal collar). The style of your collar should depend on the style of your tuxedo. If you can’t tell what will look best by yourself, have your tux renter recommend a style of shirt for you.

Shoes

Shoes should be black and shiny — this type can be found in every tuxedo rental shop ever — with only one exception. If you have a particularly unique personality and you are used to making outside-the-box fashion statements, we trust you to have good enough taste to choose a more interesting pair of shoes. Of course, this is only if your assumed great taste has enabled you to find a tux that fits you perfectly.

Tie

As for your tie, you will be wearing a bow tie. That is the end of the story. We understand that some tuxedo renters will offer the option of a regular necktie. That does not mean you should wear one. Wear a bow tie to Prom. Most places won’t even give you an option when it comes to your bow tie, but if they do please for the love of Grant Raffel choose the right one. Droopy, oversized bow ties are for some reason trending this year and they should not be. Just choose a normal-sized, neatly tied bow tie. And once again, if your tuxedo and personality give you what it takes to pull off a more interesting fabric or pattern of bow tie, go ahead and try it. Just remember, if you fail to pull it off, we won’t be the only people telling you.

Cummerbund or Vest

We recommend a basic black cummerbund for the average Prom-going gentleman. For those of you who do not know, the cummerbund is essentially a strip of fabric worn around the waist originally intended to catch crumbs as they fell onto the gentleman’s lap; this is why the folds face up. But not everyone can pull off — or wants to pull off — the cummerbund. If you are one of the many people who simply feels overwhelmed by the class implied by cummerbunds, then you can wear a vest. Many tuxedo rental shops offer a variety of colored vests and bow ties, but gentlemen, do not be enticed by their various flashy options. As usual, the appropriate color is black. Ladies: please do not make your dates wear a colored vest and bow tie to match your dress. We know that it might seem cute to match your date, but it honestly just looks a bit tacky; the colors never completely match anyways. So go with the classic look. Your conscience will reward you.

Pocket Square

If your tux fits you really well, you don’t have to wear one. Otherwise, we recommend it. The pocket square is the one element of your outfit where you really do have some choice. If you are inclined to actually go shopping for pocket squares (not at the tuxedo rental store, as they hardly ever have a nice looking selection), then go ahead and choose something interesting that will compliment your tux, your figure and maybe even your date’s dress, subtly. If you’re taking this route, we trust you to know what that will look like. If, however, you’re just looking to blend in, we recommend a white pocket square. This is a simple, classy way to show that you know what you’re doing but that you prefer to stay within the lines. We recommend that you exercise discretion when considering black pocket squares or pocket squares of most solid colors, as they tend to look cheap.

So there it is. It’s really not that hard. You just have to pay attention to the details and think ahead. By following these rules you should be one of the best-dressed boys at the Prom. Just make sure your date isn’t too jealous of all the attention you’ll be getting from the dates of less-well-dressed gentlemen.


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  • that guy

    Seriously its prom you make it seem as if your disrespecting a god. I can’t afford a tux neither the ticket to prom I have a nice 3 piece suit that’s what I’m wearing if people want to pick fun at me and say I’m under dressed so be it, its not fair I rejected my best to be put down in everything I do. No wonder why kids are walking into schools these days and aradicating their peers. If this were my weeding or a presidential dinner it would be different but its just a dance with a bunch of inappropriate acting kids anyway I care not on how I dress but more on my stature and actions during such event.

  • Deadpanda

    Well I cant afford such awesome atire, I’m a broke student that wants to have booze money on the night. Guess that means I’m making a fashion statement.
    Bring out the skinny jeans and eyeliner!