How to Find the Perfect Prom Dress

Much of the buildup to prom centers on finding a fabulous dress.
Much of the buildup to prom centers on finding a fabulous dress.
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Like first dates and passing the driver's exam, prom is one of those teenage rites of passage with a build-up bordering on a space shuttle launch. In the case of prom, to overgeneralize it, that buildup is pretty much all about the dress -- imagining it, shopping for it, trying it on for friends...

"Prom dress" once meant a floor-length, satin strapless gown. That classic is indefinitely fashionable, not to mention flattering, but prom dresses have broken the mold. Modern looks range from cute to romantic to sexy, from sporty to indie to Lea Michele-at-the-Emmys, all bright red with rosette sleeves. There's something for every fashion type.

It can say a lot, that dress: Color, fabric, length, embellishment and style all reflect personality. The perfect dress makes you feel not only your most beautiful, but also your most comfortably "you."

The search for that dress can get a wee bit crazy as the moment of truth draws near, but it doesn't have to. Here, some tips to keep the search fun and increase your chances of ending up with something you love more than life itself, at least for one big night.

To start with, sequins and cutouts can wait. First, you need a game plan ...