Prom Dress Guide: Find the Best Type of Prom Dress for You

prom dresses

Spring is here and that means prom season is upon us. You may be struggling to decide which prom dress is the dress of your dreams, or you may know exactly what style you want to buy.

Regardless, this helpful guide will give you some basic information on the major types of prom dresses, as well as benefits and drawbacks of each.

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Sleeves | Straps | Shapes

Sleeves and Their Variations

Many prom dresses can be identified by the type of sleeves that they have. Dress sleeves come in a variety of styles which can be paired with just about any length, neckline, material or pattern.

Long sleeve

A long sleeve dress is reminiscent of a formal evening gown and is very sophisticated. These sleeves can come either all the way to your wrist, or three quarters of the way down your arm, to about your mid-forearm.

Many dresses have long sleeves but have plunging necklines or bare shoulders, or even V-neck. A benefit of having long sleeves is that, if you live in a chilly area and the weather is cold on prom night, you will be much more comfortable! But the converse is also true – if you plan on really dancing a lot, or if you live in a warm climate, long sleeves may be a little too warm.

cap sleeve dress

Cap Sleeve Dress

Short Sleeve

Short sleeves on a dress can also be called “cap sleeves” and often lend well to a V-neck neckline. They offer a dress a simple, classic look; shape wise, they mimic t-shirt sleeves and can be quite comfortable if you don’t want to go with bare shoulders.

These sleeves also will allow you to wear a cute jacket or shawl over your dress. However, if you have particularly muscular shoulders, cap sleeves may make them look excessively bulky.


A sleeveless dress may be a great option if you have very muscular shoulders, as it will show off your arms without excessive bulk. The great thing about sleeveless dresses is that necklines can be very creative, from V-neck to illusion or lace.

Like cap sleeves, you can also add a nice jacket or shawl to your look; but this may be an uncomfortable choice if the weather is cold or if you want something a bit more modest than a dress that shows off your arms in their entirety.

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Straps (or Not)

Another factor that separates certain prom dresses from others is the style of their straps – or their lack of straps altogether. These are different than sleeves, though; most of the time, if a dress has straps, it will naturally have minimal arm coverage. However, there are still a number of options to choose from if you want a dress with unique straps.

halter prom dress

Halter Dress


A halter dress employs straps in a unique way; it essentially is a sleeveless V-neck dress in which a single strap goes around the back of your neck. Halter dresses are often backless to some degree, so you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with wearing something this revealing.

You’ll be able to find a halter dress in a length or shape that works well for you, as halter styles are not limited to one style or shape. A possible drawback of this style could be the fact that it is sleeveless and often backless but it depends on your preference, as this may be what draws you to this dress in the first place.

strapless prom dress

Strapless Pleated Gown


Strapless dresses are often seen at weddings but they can certainly be seen at prom, too. Strapless dresses can come in a variety of lengths; and the neckline can vary, as well.

They usually come up a few inches below your collarbone; many have a sweetheart neckline, which is in the shape of the top of a heart. This can give the effect of more curves and balance to the overall picture, which is an often sought-after benefit of this style.

However, many women may be concerned with a dress like this staying in place comfortably; but luckily, it is easy to apply clear straps to any strapless dress with just a little work.

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Unique Dress Shapes

Prom dresses come in a number of very unique shapes; and most of these shapes can have just about any type of sleeve length or strap style that has already been mentioned above. So it’s helpful to determine what shape you want, and then find one with the straps or sleeve style that you like.

There are prom dresses out there to fit just about every body type and style preference:


Fishtail dresses, also known as “mermaid” dresses, are very form fitting from the bust through the torso and seat, and then flare outwards all the way around at about the mid-thigh level.

The difference between fishtail and mermaid dresses is that a fishtail dress has a much more gradual flair, and is therefore much less restrictive when it comes to leg movement. A mermaid dress is noticeably tighter through the thighs with a more dramatic flair.

A benefit of these two similar styles it that they really highlight curves, or can give the impression of more dramatic curves. However, many women may not like the fact that they can be quite restrictive – especially when you’re wearing it to a dance!


A midi dress can have a variety of sleeve lengths or straps; the identifying feature of this dress is its length – it comes to the middle of one’s calves. A benefit of this dress may be, for some, that it can be quite free-flowing since it doesn’t reach the floor; however, others may feel that this sort of dress is not “formal” enough for prom because of its length. These benefits and drawbacks really depend on your personal preference.

layered prom dress

Layered Dress


Layered dresses can have any variety of neckline, sleeves, or straps, and many are even two-piece – but the identifying quality of this dress is the bottom half.

From the waist down, a layered dress consists of layers of chiffon that can be either staggered and relatively smooth or quite ruffled. This gives the dress volume and texture.

A benefit of this dress is that it’s very unique – the layered chiffon gives it a unique shape and volume. However, a drawback may present itself if you prefer a more form fitting look or if you determine your body type isn’t right for a rather fluffy dress.


Two-piece dresses are becoming quite popular and can now be found in a variety of shapes with a variety of strap and sleeve styles.

These dresses usually consist of a top piece that covers the bust and torso, and sometimes parts of the arms. Usually a few inches of bare skin are noticeable around the midriff before the second half of the dress begins a few inches above the waist.

These are unique in that they can come in a number of different shapes, and can show off one’s abs; but a drawback may be that, for many, they aren’t comfortable having a dress in two pieces or one that reveals skin around the middle.

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Prom dress shopping is an exciting event and luckily there’s no shortage of options when it comes to dress styles and shapes.

Regardless of your personal preferences and body type, there are dresses out there with or without straps, many different length and sleeve options, and more. With all of the options available, you’re sure to find the dress of your dreams with just a little bit of searching.

Category: Your Style

Tags: dress, prom

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  • Margarita Huizar |

    E comprado ropa y me a gustado