Question: What to wear to a formal dance?

Emmett asks…

I’m not really a formal dance kind of person, but my partner and I have decided to go to prom. Now I am faced with the decision: a suit or a dress.
Dresses are WAY more fun, but I don’t want to be seen as a girl, or as a traditional heterosexual couple. What would you do if you were in this situation? Would you wear the outfit that is “fun,” and know that you will spend the whole night being forced into a box you don’t fit into, or would you wear something a little less enjoyable to shop for, and be seen as (closer to) who you really are? Either way I feel I am sacrificing something for the sake of other people’s wrongful interpretations of gender.

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on June 2nd, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 6 comments »

6 Responses to “Question: What to wear to a formal dance?”

  1. Clare

    What about wearing something like a nicely chosen and cut trouser suit – to make the point that gendered clothing, in reality, has converged, and that it is no longer possible, or necessary to draw strict lines of demarcation between the genders – you will make a point, AND you will make people THINK. I’m sure you can accent the suit with some well-chosen accessories and features.


  2. Anonymous

    What about a hibrid suit-dress? Like with the bottom of a poofy (or not) dress and a nice top of a formal suit? Or evern just a dress with the blazer from a suit over top.

    If it has to be one or the other, go with what feels good to you. Other people will make assumptions and box you in no matter what you wear. Do you want your prom to be fun, or a political statement? I personally think you should go with fun since that is what the night is supposed to be. But again, it’s really about what makes you feel best. Confusing people with their notions of gender can be fun too.

    So in summary, I vote hibrid.


  3. Jasper

    I think Hybrid is a good idea. People will always assume though. I wish I could give you more help, but I have the same issue. Good luck!


  4. Joss/Ames

    I really like the idea of the hybrid outfit. You could even pick things like cufflinks/pocket squares/ties to match the dress part. Just make sure you wear a suit (etc) cut specifically for men; it’s a subtle difference but will help you not just look like an edgy female fashion model. Also, not sure how much shopping you’ve done for men’s clothing, but as a personal perspective, in my experience shopping for suits and ties can be just as much fun (if not more fun) than shopping for a dress, especially if you take supportive friends and family with you :)


  5. Byron

    I wound up having a friend look for some floral blazers on etsy and that worked out really well. My problem was not wanting to wear a dress but suits are too stuffy so that worked for me. Floral blazer + pink oxford shirt + silver tie + khakis = success, for me at least


  6. Jesse

    Go the whole nine yard on a tuxedo from the wait up and wear a nice flowing skirt below. Wear comfortable formal type shoes. Don’t forget the cuff links, tie stay and other stuff that says this isn’t just a monkey suit.

    Laugh a lot and have a good time.


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