Choosing The Best Color For Your Prom Outfit
If you think your prom outfit has to the traditional black and white tux, then think again.
As fashion becomes more accessible, and styles become more diverse and varied, traditional attitudes about how to dress for prom are changing quickly, and that includes ideas about styling with color.
To get the very most out of your apparel, check out our style guide!
Colors are great for making us feel, and humans are naturally and very intimately connected with the relationship between color and emotion, so it's a great tool to use to really create your outfit into a true work of art.
One way of looking at color styling reduces all possible colors to one of two categories: you can either use more commonly used classic colors, or you can use less commonly used bolder colors to give yourself an expressive, more opulent style.
Classic colors, like navy blue, gray, black, and burgundy are colors more often used in traditional prom outfits. These colors usually present a more orthodox, reserved style. They are also usually featured with darker shades and are easier to match with a variety of looks.
The classic colors are very common in suits and can also be seen in a wide range of all types of tuxedos and dinner jackets.
These colors are easy to wear and style well with a wider range of outfits, and although they are quite common, they still look good when styled appropriately.
Very common, navy is perhaps the most universal of all suit colors. Navy is a safe, easy, go-to option for almost any kind of event. It's not an understatement to say that, at the typical event, at least 25% of the suits in attendance are going to be this color, or close to it.
Navy is closely associated with business suits, and it always presents a cool, calm demeanor that doesn't like to stray too far from the norm. Being a shade of blue, it can also be associated with the winter season and cooler temperatures.
Navy can be styled with a wide range of colored dress shoe (such as black, gray, burgundy, or brown), giving it an even greater range of versatility for almost any situation, but it may lack the impact of some of the bolder colors on our list.
Gray is the second most popular option for business suits and has some of the same qualities as navy blue. It works best when presenting a cool, business-like look that doesn't mind blending into the background or taking a back-seat to the action.
Like navy blue, gray is very versatile (though probably slightly less ubiquitous than navy blue) and also pairs itself well with a diverse range of footwear and dress shirts.
However, one key difference between navy blue and gray comes down to projecting youth versus projecting experience: navy exudes youth, while gray represents age.
Gray combines the versatility of navy blue with the extra added dimension of age and experience, so if you're unsure of what kind of suit to wear, or if you just want an easy option without having to think too much about your outfit, then a gray or navy blue suit is probably what you're looking for.
While commonly associated with tuxedos, black is also used in suits and all types of jackets and blazers. A black tuxedo is the epitome of classic, but a black suit can also be worn and styled under the right circumstances.
Black creates a more laid-back and reserved style like other classic colors, but it can also evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, making it different from navy and gray.
Unlike the other classic colors, black does not always pair neatly with a wide range of different skin complexions, and lighter haired, fairer skinned people may have less than desirable results when wearing black outfits.
Although black is more difficult to style with than the other classic colors, it should still be seen as easier to style than any of the bold colors, and also still conveys a very traditional, orthodox look in most situations.
Burgundy can be a very interesting suit color choice and is fairly unique among the classic color options, since it skirts the line between classic and bold and combines a lot of the good qualities that are found in both color types.
Burgundy relies on the darkness of its shade to present a deep, thoughtful style that is professional but not as reserved or common as navy blue or gray. As a rule of thumb, the darker the shade of burgundy you style with, the more traditional and orthodox your style is likely to become.
Burgundy suits are less common than the other classic color options, but they are still more commonly used than the bolder color options listed further on in our list, giving burgundy a happy medium in our list and making it a great option for those who want to stand out without being too opulent.
Bolder colors, like white, red, purple, and green, occupy the opposite end of the spectrum from classic colors. While classic colors are all about reserve and blending in, bold colors are about standing out and personal expression.
Bold colors can be more difficult to style with, since they are often brighter, louder, and more extravagant, but the trade off to this is that they put more eyes on you, and they can be much more expressive than more traditional classic colors.
White creates a pristine, vary sparse look which can be easily thrown off by pairing it with too many different colors or accessories.
When styling with white, less is more, so if you want to wear a white suit or tuxedo, make sure you don't throw off its balance by adding too many accessories or extra colors. White is especially useful when styling for events that take place outdoors.
A white outfit will immediately draw attention to whoever wears it, and white suits in particular have a very close association with wealth, grandeur and high class.
Like more classic colors, white can be paired with a wide variety of other colors and styles, but unlike classic colors, these combinations are more difficult to pull off and usually require a fair amount of outfit coordination.
Red is a loud, in your face color that also has a lot of class to it. Unlike white, red has a much weaker connection with wealth and opulence.
Red has connotations of love, romance, passion, power, and sex. It's flashier than the classic colors, but not nearly as glamorous as white.
A red outfit will definitely draw attention to its wearer, but red also features a fair amount of reserved depth, especially with darker shades, and like with burgundy, the brighter your shade of red, the less formal your outfit is likely to appear, and the more you will stand out.
Once the symbol of Roman and Greek aristocracy, purple may be the most low-key of the bold colors and has a lot of qualities that make it unique.
Purple is probably the best color for mixing colors from opposite ends of the spectrum, like red and blue, and is an uncommon color in suits and tuxedos.
Because of its central position in the color spectrum, the shade of your color of purple will drastically alter the effect it creates on your outfit. Lighter shades of purple like lilac create a showier style, while darker shades like deep purple or eggplant create a calmer, more formal look.
Green is an underrated color that has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, especially darker shades like hunter green and olive.
Green presents a very vibrant, rich look that isn't as difficult to style with as some of the other bold colors like white. And unlike the other bold colors, green is a fairly trendy color, with many famous actors sporting green suits.
Admired for its ability to skirt the line between bold and classic, green is probably the most relaxed and low-key of all the bold colors, so it's a great place to start experimenting with new styles and pairing combinations.