Getting ready for prom is a big deal. There's so much to think about- how you're going to fix your hair, shoes and accessories, who you're going with... and, of course, your dress. Finding the perfect dress for you can take a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end, when you walk into that prom looking amazing. Here's how to get there.

The first thing you need to do is figure out where you'll be shopping. To figure out how many choices you have, you need to know how much money you'll have to spend. If you just won the lottery or have unlimited funds some other way, you can skip this part and shop wherever you want. Otherwise, here are the basics of where you can shop based on how much money you have to spend (note that these are just basic guidelines to go by):

  • Nothing- friends/relatives closets.
  • $50 or less- Thrift stores, online clearance sales, + above
  • $100 to $51- Consignment shops, dress rental services, + above
  • $250 to $101- outlet dress stores, + above
  • $251+- High end bridal stores, + above

Once you know the basic idea of where you can shop, it's time to make a list. Search online for places that sell prom dresses (as well as thrift stores and consignment shops, if you'll be using them), and write down the name, address, and hours of each one. You want to ideally go to as many places as possible so you can find the perfect dress.

Once you've made that list, make one more list: things to look for in the dress. Write down colors you've seen that you really like, and colors you can't stand. Write down any rules you've been given by the school as to how you're allowed to dress. Do you want to avoid short dresses? Strapless dresses? Write it down.

Next, find someone to shop with. You want to find someone who's opinion you value, whether it's your mom, your older sister, or your best friend. make sure the person you go with is willing to tell you the truth about whatever you pick. You don't want someone who will tell you your prom dress looks wonderful, and you don't find out until you get to prom that it actually looks hideous.

Now the only thing left to do is the actual shopping part. Just remember that the list of what you're looking for in a dress is just a guideline, and apart from the school rules, it doesn't have to be followed to the letter. Also remember not to get discouraged if you don't find the perfect dress in the first place you go. Perfection takes time.