When I went to the prom over a decade ago, Marc by Marc Jacobs didn’t exist. Our options were thus: Caché, Jessica McClintock, BCBG and if your mom could afford it, Betsey Johnson. Of course many of us opted for vintage. I, for one, wore a gunmetal gown with a little black cardigan on top, inspired by a Calvin Klein ensemble Gwyneth Paltrow chose for a red carpet appearance in the late 1990s.
But then there’s Steff, who wore Marc Jacobs collection to her prom. (Yeah, that’s right. She wore the dress again last year to the Whitney Art Party. It’s amazing.) Leah spent a pretty penny, but wasn’t as happy with the results. “I bought (what I then considered) a very expensive beaded BCBG gown. I also thought it was the prettiest dress ever,” she says. “Then coming back from a boozy pre-graduation beach week in Delaware (which is some DC schools’ ritual) my friends and I stopped at a Loehmann’s and I bought a slutty, pink postage stamp of a dress for $50 and wore that instead.” Don’t worry though, she wore the pretty BCBG dress to a wedding, and had a fever on prom and went home early so the slutty tube dress didn’t get much play.
But even if we loved our dresses, there are so many amazing options out there now–from Target to Forever 21 to H&M–that we’re pretty sure we could have found something even better if we were graduating in 2011.
Are you going to prom this year? What will you wear? If prom was long ago, what would you choose if you could do it all over again?
Click through for our gallery of dream prom dresses. (Tomorrow, we’ll give you some real-life options.)