How to Spice Up a Plain Prom Dress
You’ve been prom dress shopping – but you can’t seem to find the dress you’re looking for. Or maybe you’ve already got your dress, but on second look it’s just a little too plain and boring. Maybe all it needs is the right accessories, perhaps some sparkle, or more volume… something to give it that extra special, all glammed-up feel!
If you want to spice up your plain, kind of “blah”, prom dress – try a couple of the tips below. We’re covering everything from choosing accessories, to embellishing your dress, to actually cutting into your dress and transforming it with your sewing machine!
How to Accessorize a Prom Dress
The easiest place to start when amping up a boring dress is with the accessories. Sure, the dress is the largest piece of your prom look, but it doesn’t have to be the focal point!
In fact, a plain dress may actually serve as a better backdrop to accentuate statement jewelry or shoes than a dress with a lot of detail and sparkle.
What to Keep in Mind While Choosing Accessories
When choosing accessories to pair with your dress, there a few things that it helps to keep in mind: the color of the dress, the cut of the neckline, and, most importantly, your personal style.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these three things and how they might impact your accessory choices.
The same shoe, hair piece, or item of jewelry can look completely different depending on the color of the dress you wear it with.
If you’re working with a plain black dress, the accessory world is your oyster! You can choose accessories confidently, knowing that just about anything will go well with the color of your dress.
If you will be wearing a lighter-colored dress – think pastels like baby blue or dusty pink – try choosing silver or rose gold jewelry. Rose gold in particular brings a bit of a romantic feel that will pair well with the light-hearted pastel color of your dress.
If you’ve chosen a bold color such as emerald green, deep purple, or ruby red, you might find that gold goes well with your dress. Even better, add in a few pieces that incorporate gemstones into your look to really highlight the jewel tones of your dress.
Next, think about the neckline of your dress. Is it strapless, or does it have a plunging neckline, a high neck, or a one shoulder neckline? This is especially useful when it comes to choosing a necklace to pair with your prom dress.
For a strapless dress, there is quite a bit of space between your head and the top of your dress that can be filled with a beautiful necklace. In this case, any necklace that falls above the neckline of the dress can work well.
Both a deep, plunging neckline and a one-shoulder neckline bring a lot of drama to your look all on their own. So, for these types of necklines, you may prefer to skip the necklace entirely. Or try a choker-style necklace that adds some interest but doesn’t distract from the neckline itself.
For a dress with a high neckline, you may find that no necklace is the best look, depending on the style of the dress. If you do want to wear a necklace, a bold necklace with layers of jewels or beads can look great over a high neckline.
Finally, the most important piece of choosing accessories for your prom night look is your very own personal style.
If you like bold – go ahead and grab your chunky jewelry and bright shoes. If you like elegant, pare it back with thin silver jewelry and classic heels. If you’re a glam girl, add as much sparkle as you like!
Add Glitz and Glam to a Prom Dress
If your dress needs something a little extra, that just accessorizing can’t achieve, then embellish your dress with fun add-ons like sequins, rhinestones, fancy buttons, or a brooch!
Add a Brooch
A fancy brooch is a super easy way to bring some sparkle and interest to your dress. Choose a brooch that fits your style and goes well with your dress. A beautiful rhinestone brooch is often a great choice for a prom dress!
Once you’ve picked out your brooch, simply pin it onto your dress. Try pinning it at the neckline or the waist to highlight one of those areas.
Sequins and Rhinestones
Another great option to glam up your prom dress is adding sequins or rhinestones. This is an awesome way to make a super plain dress look ready for a fancy event (like prom!).
When it comes to sequins, you can either purchase individual sequins and sew each one exactly where you want it, or you can purchase sequin trim and sew strips of trim to the dress.
For rhinestones, you can place each rhinestone with fabric glue, or use hotfix rhinestones, which are applied with a hot rhinestone setting tool. Another option is sew-on rhinestones, which must each be individually stitched to the fabric.
Beading is fun and it looks so beautiful and unique on clothing, especially on a fancy prom dress. It is a pretty time-consuming process to bead any part of your dress, so it might be best to stick with smaller areas of your dress – unless you just find that you LOVE beading!
Try beading the straps, the waistband, or around the neckline of your dress.
There are some beautiful, fancy buttons out there that would really give your prom dress a unique and elegant touch. Think rhinestone buttons, gorgeous glass buttons, flower buttons, and even sparkly bee-shaped buttons.
Try stitching some of these buttons around the neckline or at the waistline of your dress for a cool, unique look.
If you want to bring a whimsical, romantic look to prom this year, faux flowers might be the key to the dress of your dreams!
Gather a selection of faux flowers that go well together and match the color of your dress. Then, pin the flowers to the dress, rearranging them until you’re happy with the placement. Next, glue or hand stitch each flower in place. You can go minimal with this, by just adding a few flowers in specific areas, or cover the entire dress in flowers to put together a look that will turn heads all evening!
Use Your Sewing Skills: Upcycling Prom Dresses
Most plain dresses can be spiced up with just accessories and embellishments – but if you’re just feeling like your dress is beyond help, you might need to break out your scissors and sewing machine to give your dress a true makeover.
Here are a few ideas for upcycling a prom dress.
Make an Underskirt
If the dress feels flat and doesn’t have the swingy volume that makes a prom dress feel fancy, you can make an underskirt to wear under it.
Find some tulle fabric in a color that complements the color of your dress. Then, stitch layers of tulle to an elastic waistband that fits around your waist. The more layers of tulle you add, the more volume your dress will have.
Once the layers have been stitched to the waistband, put it on like you would a skirt. Then, put the prom dress on over the underskirt. Have someone help you trim the tulle layers evenly so that they are either hidden under the skirt of the dress or so that just a few inches peek out below the dress.
Hem the Dress
A quick way to update a prom dress is by hemming it. Maybe the dress is an awkward length that’s not quite long and not quite short – you can hem it and make a short prom dress!
To do this, wear the dress and have someone else evenly mark around the dress at the length you want the finished skirt to be. Then, take the dress off and cut the hem about 1 inch below the marked line.
Fold the hem to the inside by ½ inch and press it flat. Then, fold it up another ½ inch to hide the cut edges inside the folded hem. Press and pin the hem in place. Finally, stitch around the hem using thread in a color matching your dress.
Update the Neckline
One way to really transform a dress is by updating the neckline, straps, and sleeves. Note that this process does require some sewing skill and maybe even pattern-making experience, so this is a last resort unless you’re very confident in your sewing abilities!
Try transforming a dress with an outdated neckline into a strapless dress. Or, if you have a strapless dress and don’t like the look, you could add straps – maybe even beaded straps! The options are endless!
Before cutting into your dress, sketch out some different design ideas, then go with the one that feels right for your prom look.
As you can see, spicing up a plain prom dress is fun, whether it’s just adding the right accessories, embellishing the dress itself, or totally updating the dress with your scissors and sewing machine. No one will accuse you of wearing a boring dress to prom this year!