16 alternatives if you don't want to wear a traditional prom dress

  • Every year, thousands of students in the United States attend their junior and senior proms.
  • Students typically dress up in extravagant gowns and tuxedos for the occasion. But not everyone wants to keep with tradition on their prom night.
  • To help give you an idea of what other options are on the market, we’ve rounded up 16 alternatives to traditional prom dresses.
  • Pantsuits and jumpsuits, for example, are a great way to make a statement at prom without wearing a skirt.
  • If gowns are more your style, you can change things up by choosing a dress that features a geometric print or eye-catching ruffles.

A prom dress is arguably one of the most difficult gowns to shop for.

Not only is there pressure to find a unique dress that will stand out from every other ensemble at the event, but there’s also the added stress of choosing a gown that you won’t regret wearing 10 years down the road.

Thankfully, shopping for prom dresses in 2019 has its advantages. There are tons of new retailers to shop at, and a plethora of new styles to try. If you’re in the market for something different, one of these 17 prom-dress alternatives might be for you.


A neon-coloured pantsuit will stand out from just about any crowd.

ZaraPantsuits are also a perfect option for those who would rather not wear a dress.

Pantsuits have become especially popular among celebrities in recent years, so it’s likely that the style will translate over to prom fashion too.

Cost: $US109.80

Find out more about Zara’s Blazer with Pockets and Cigarette Pants here.


A cape-style dress will add flare to your look.

Fashion NovaThis dress style is dramatic, so you can go with simpler shoes, hair, and makeup.

Halter-style gowns are typically viewed as traditional, but the addition of a cape adds something unique and unexpected to the classic look.

By wearing a dress of this style, you’ll also be channeling Meghan Markle, who recently wore a dress with a cape while in Fiji.

Cost: $US89.99

Find out more about Fashion Nova’s More Than Capable dress here.


This particular dress stands out for its length.

Free PeopleSparkles will make this style even more impressive.

While many opt for floor-length gowns on prom night, you might want to consider a cocktail dress. The style is perfect for dancing, and will look striking compared to longer dresses.

Cost: $US340

Find out more about the Free People Janelle Dress here.


A ruffled romper will look distinct for the same reason.

Pretty Little ThingThis model’s long earrings add a sparkling detail to her ensemble.

A detailed romper like this one will undoubtedly make a memorable fashion statement.

Cost: $US50

Find out more about Pretty Little Thing’s Red Satin Bardot Frill Romper here.


Bell-sleeved dresses are rarely worn during proms.

GuessThe floral print on the sleeves also adds a distinctive touch.

Prom dresses are typically held up by thin straps or short sleeves, so this retro style adds something new to the mix.

Cost: $US198

Find out more about Guess’ Love Me Embroidered Bell-Sleeve dress here.


No one will expect you to wear an animal-print dress on prom night.

H&MA faux-fur jacket will add a nice contrast to just about any animal print.

Animal print is a bold style, so you can go simple with the rest of your look.

Cost: $US79.99

Find out more about H&M’s Patterned Dress here.


A conventional gown will look less traditional if it features standout colours.

ModclothThe high-low skirt is unique compared to other prom dresses.

This dress, for example, includes various shades of green throughout, adding multiple pops of colour to an otherwise standard look.

Cost: $US129

Find out more about Modcloth’s Peachy Queen Maxi Dress in Pear here.


Keep your eye out for an ensemble that’s made with a unique fabric.

ReformationThis baby-pink dress looks stunning with simple, beige-toned accessories.

Silk is eye-catching, and rarely used for prom dresses. By choosing a gown made from the shiny fabric, you’ll likely have one of the most unique looks of the night.

Cost: $US278

Find out more about the Reformation Nicola Dress here.


If you enjoy the look of dresses but feel more comfortable in pants, try a jumpsuit.

Urban OutfittersTo make the ensemble a little more formal, try wearing heels and jewellery.

The strapless top, wide pants, and knot in the center of this suit create the illusion of a dress.

Cost: $US205

Find out more about Urban Outfitter’s Keepsake Heart + Soul Floral Strapless Jumpsuit here.


Choose a dress that features a unique colour and shape.

Forever 21You can expect to make a bold statement by wearing a muted colour.

Browns, grays, and other neutrals are rarely worn during prom, so you’re sure to look anything but traditional – especially when paired with an attention-grabbing ruffle.

Cost: $US58

Find out more about Forever 21’s Asymmetrical Ruffle Trim Homecoming Gown here.


You can still wear a skirt to prom without wearing a dress.

Free PeopleTo really make a statement, choose a crop-top that features a single-shoulder design.

Instead, skirts paired with crop tops will look both formal and edgy.

Cost: $US394

Find out more about the Free People Pure Luck Set here.


Read more:


A high school threatened to give girls ‘modesty ponchos’ to wear over their prom dresses


Don’t shy away from incorporating geometric prints into your prom look.

Fashion NovaBecause the dress is so long, you don’t have to worry about buying fancy shoes.

A standout look like this one will have everyone wondering where you found such a unique dress.

Cost: $US74.99

Find out more about Fashion Nova’s Stay In The Loop Rhinestone Neon Dress here.


Opt for a flowing gown to stand out from the crowd.

Fashion NovaYou can skip the accessories with a dress as bold as this one.

Whether you’re taking prom photos or dancing the night away, a dress of this style is sure to make you feel elegant.

Cost: $US70

Find out more about the Fashion Nova Sunset Ombre Dress here.


Crop-top suits are trendy, and will look striking at an event like prom.

ReformationStrappy sandals will also add a fashionable touch to your prom look.

To make an outfit like this look a little more formal, simply pair the crop top with a sharp blazer.

Cost: $US248

Find out more about Reformation’s Samson Two Piece here.


Outerwear looks can be unexpected, but stunning.

Pretty Little ThingThis dress is particularly distinctive for its sparkly fabric and dark-green colour.

Jacket-style dresses will look especially refreshing in a crowd of ball gowns.

Cost: $US80

Find out more about Pretty Little Thing’s Emerald Green Sequin Button Detail Blazer Dress here.


The type of jacket you wear can make your prom suit stand out even more.

Fashion NovaThis model also wore daring clear heels.

Instead of wearing a long-sleeved coat, try wearing a sleeveless jacket.

Cost: $US69.99

Find out more about Fashion Nova’s Got Things To Do Vest Suit Set here.

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