You might as well roll out the red carpet in front of the school gymnasium or hotel ballroom and line it with parental paparazzi: Prom season provides many girls a chance to have their moment in the spotlight.
It's likely that this year's parade of fashions will include a few starlet lookalikes. And why not?
Today's young celebrities span many styles. There's Jennifer Lawrence, who has come to awards shows dressed both sporty and sleek, and like a princess; Taylor Swift, who moves seamlessly from vintage to ethereal; and sometimes funky, sometimes artsy Chloe Moretz.
There are also Rihanna and Selena Gomez, notes Gina Kelly, fashion director at Seventeen. "You've got Selena Gomez, who's a little sweeter, and Rihanna, who's edgier. Within that range, you've got a lot of options."
Coming just off the Hollywood awards season, all the options are fresh in girls' minds, she says, and they've gotten ideas on how to put a whole package together.
Georgina Chapman, designer of red-carpet favorite Marchesa, is now offering a significantly less expensive version of her party looks at JCPenney under the Pearl label. She hopes Pearl adds a little "more tongue in cheek" than Marchesa, with the same level of attention to details, and you'll have the embellishment and ruffles.
There are looks that hit the right note between risktaker and risqui. The Grammys this year came with an edict that outfits couldn't show too much skin, so some stars, including Rihanna, worked around it with sheer illusion fabrics and peek-a-boo cutouts, both compromises that also might follow mom's rules.
Even if girls don't want to hear it, a dress that will allow them to stand, sit and dance will be more fun in the end. "You don't want to have to worry about falling out of your dress every time you move," says Seventeen's Kelly.
Comfort also can fuel confidence.
Mandi Line, costume designer for TV's "Pretty Little Liars," encourages girls to try on as many prom dresses as possible. Then, she says, "go with your gut or you won't be happy at the dance."
"What do you want to show off? Your legs, your arms? Then look at your favorite star. You might not be like them, you might not look like them. But it's a good start for ideas," Line says.
She says the colors of persimmon, sort of an orange-red, and mint green are everywhere this season, often paired with black and white.