Stay away from one thing this prom season: Pink. That is, unless you're wearing a ballerina-inspired dress.
Besides this stipulation, everything else is in.
"It's so eclectic," said Karen Tina Harrison, the fashion and beauty editor of Your Prom magazine.
This "anything goes" attitude means girls will be wearing strapless sequined dresses with slits, flapper styles with fringes, fairy tale-inspired ruffled gowns, and tank dresses with feather boa hems. An upcoming Seventeen magazine fashion show will even match motorcycle jackets and boots with prom dresses. And, of course, there will be pink --and baby blue -- ballerina dresses, with a tight bodice and a tulle skirt of netting and sheer.
This year's favorite styles are more feminine than last year's, said Wendy Lanham, the merchandising editor of Seventeen.
Lengths will hop up and down, though some are still favored. "I'm seeing a lot of dance lengths, just above the ankle," said Ms. Harrison. "Some are caught up on one side, showing more leg than you'd think."
Sequins -- some the size of dimes -- will dazzle many a date. Look for sequins scrolling on collars and swirling around bodices. Those plastic disks will also show up on black and electric-colored tank dresses and jackets, Ms. Lanham said.
Expect to see a lot of black on the dance floor, along with bright "crayon" colors like royal blue, fuchsia, red, purple and green and gold and silver metallics. And white, if it's updated with sequins, is still a classic, Ms. Harrison said. Pastels, though, are on the way out, she said.
Although this year's dress styles don't forge a new fashion frontier, Ms. Harrison said, accessories are where you'll find something new. Fish-net stockings -- with short, full skirts -- and Hermes-style print scarves have emerged for the daring, she said. Sequined headbands, big and colorful pearls, rhinestone belts, and chiffon and tulle wraps are new extras that can spice up a tight tank dress, Ms. Lanham added. More traditional accessories include elbow-length stretch gloves -- this time with clunky rings worn outside -- jeweled or sequined handbags, and dyed-to-match shoes, Ms. Harrison said.
This year, mules -- the shoe with no back -- have attracted the most interest, Ms. Lanham said. With a short ballerina dress in pink or blue, this may mean a low- or flat-heeled mule in silver, she said.
The final accessory, said Ms. Harrison, is "Major Earrings." The dangling types that sometimes skim the shoulder are the most popular, with matte medal being the hippest and latest material, she said.
When it's all over, girls should expect to pay at least $100 for their prom dresses, not including accessories, Ms. Harrison said.