How to Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress

Homecoming is a huge event in any high school, second only to prom. However, while prom is about long trains, pomp, and circumstance, homecoming gives teens a chance to break out the sequined, satin, knee-length frocks and dance the night away worry-free! But how exactly do you find that elusive perfect dress, and what should you consider when selecting it?


  1. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 1
    Pick the right length and cut. Ideally, a homecoming dress should fall at or just above the knee. Full-length gowns, while appropriate for prom, are a classic homecoming faux pas. Homecoming dresses tend towards tighter, more sleek silhouettes and cuts that allow for comfortable dancing and movement. However, a bit of tulle or ruffles is perfectly permissible as well. Straps or some form of support are recommended, and if a dress is strapless, be sure that it fits impeccably. While the dress's length and cut should be fun and sleek, remember that you won't want to be worrying about your dress when you're on the dance floor!
  2. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 2
    Pay attention to fabric, color and pattern. While homecoming is fun and casual, it is also traditionally in late autumn. Bright colors, tie-dye patterns, or summery florals are not the components of a perfect homecoming dress. Dark colors, whites, ivories, metallic tones, or blacks are good colors for a solid homecoming dress. As for prints, animal prints are always a fun option, or a dark, elegant brocade can also be stunning with a youthful cut. Also, fabrics with a sheen to them are a staple of homecoming attire.
  3. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 3
    Make sure your dress is practical and appropriate for your school. While all-over sequins may jump off of a magazine page, they might not be the best choice for a homecoming dress. If your school has a strict dress code (i.e., no sleeveless dresses) make sure that you have a shawl or shrug to cover your shoulders. Also, be sure to pair your dress with a chic coat, because chances are the night is going to be chilly. Lastly, keep the term "semi-formal" in mind. Dresses with too many runway ruffles, or other cumbersome forms of ornamentation, are not the best choice for homecoming.
  4. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 4
    Know your personal style aesthetic and how it translates to a homecoming dress. Your homecoming dress should reflect your day-to-day style and personality. Are you outgoing, brash, and flirtatious? Your perfect dress may be Animal Print, or a dazzling one-shoulder silhouette. Do you normally dress classically, with an elegant touch? A dark, shimmering brocade or floral with a sweetheart neckline and a clean hem may be your perfect dress. Are you quirky, fun and creative? Maybe some tulle, ruffles, or bows will make an appearance on your perfect dress. The girls who really stun at homecoming are the ones that can take their personal style and reflect it in the limited colors, fabrics, and cuts of a homecoming dress.
  5. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 5
    Plan your search in advance. It may take a few months to chance upon that perfect homecoming dress, so make sure you start early! An early start means that more dresses will be in stock, the stores will be less crowded, and if a store doesn't have your size in stock they can ship it in time for homecoming
  6. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 6
    Make sure you know when you've found the perfect dress. Your dress should make you feel fun without overpowering your natural beauty. It should fit very well and flatter your body type, and be secure enough to stay steady after an hour of dancing. You should feel special in your homecoming dress, and be able to walk into your school confidently and ready for fun.
  7. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 7
    Accessorize to perfection. Once you have the perfect dress, try to find pieces that make it even better. If your neckline is open, maybe a statement necklace will add punch to your look, or perhaps a shimmering bracelet will add some needed sparkle. When selecting shoes, keep comfort in mind, While at many schools, heels are taken off to ease dancing in about an hour, it's still a good idea to pick a low or medium heel (i.e., anything above 2 1/2 inches is pushing it.)
  8. Image titled Select the Perfect Homecoming Dress Step 8
    Complete your look with the perfect hair and makeup. Generally, homecoming hairstyles have some hair down and some up, with gratuitous curls. However, a sleek, effortless ponytail or free-flowing waves can work wonders with certain dresses. Flip through prom magazines or photos of your school's homecoming for hairstyle ideas. Makeup should be fun, but also light and durable. A solid foundation and a glossy lip with some shimmering eye shadow, light eyeliner, and your best mascara should do the trick.


  • Make sure that your dress and accessories don't over power you. You don't want to look uncomfortable or swallowed by your clothes.
  • When in doubt, go with a LBD. Your favorite LBD (Little Black Dress) can do you no wrong. Many girls wear LBDs to homecoming, and they are a tried and true way to infuse personal style into any dress code. LNDs (Little Navy Dresses,) LWDs (Little White Dresses,) or LBDs (Little Brown or Burgundy Dresses,) are all fantastic options as well.
  • Stay true to the homecoming style, but put your own twist on it in certain aspects. There are some general rules for a homecoming dress: not too fancy, about knee-length, fall or winter colors, and some sheen and sparkle. However, mixing things up in some select areas, like a fun, unique print, a bow or two, or some fantastic ruffles, is a great way to stand out in a sea of satin.
  • Call in friends to help you with any step of the process. Take a few trusted friends dress shopping, or better yet, pick out your favorite dresses and have them vote on the perfect dress. Ask them what accessories they would put with your dress, or on homecoming night you and your friends could all get ready together (which is a great way to check that your hair and makeup is impeccable!)


  • Another way to avoid showing up in an identical dress to someone else is to do your research: ask your friends what they or their friends are wearing and make sure your dress is truly unique.
  • Many, many, many homecoming dresses look very similar, so beware of trends that show up across stores or designers. Chances are, there will be another girl at homecoming with an unfortunately similar dress. For example, the girls in the picture below are sporting beaded straps that form a v-neck, which is a motif seen on many homecoming dresses. Avoid common trends like these and instead opt for a dress that doesn't appear all over the homecoming scene.

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Categories: Dances