- Foundations: Girls in the past have neglected this element of the equation, says Phyllis Brasch Librach. But now more recognize their power. Popular for smoothing and eliminating lumps on the lower half are Spanx Footless Medium Control pantyhose, which sydneyscloset.com stocks in larger E and F sizes. For the upper half, a huge hit this year at Sydney's Closet has been the Lily Seamless bustier (up to a 42DD), $65, without old-fashioned boning.
- Celebrity cues: Jayne Chase and Jennifer Goodkind, co-hosts of "A Fashionable Life" radio show (afashionableliferadio.com), crown Reese Witherspoon as prom-inspiration queen, particularly for her romantic ruffled strapless amethyst gown at the Oscars. Similar romantic styling is seen in a dress with a corseted back - a popular fit detail because corset ties allow fit adjustments - by designer DeBora Rachelle (deborarachelle.com).
- Cinderella: Ballgowns have made a comeback. Librach cites one modern twist - in which the skirt fabric is gathered and tacked with beads or stitching to create cloudlike tufts - what she calls a "pickup skirt." In keeping with the Cinderella story, strapless gowns remain No. 1, though halters and a few asymmetrical one-shoulder styles seen at the Oscars also are out there. (Most prom dresses are designed before red-carpet season wraps up, though labels such as ABS by Allen Schwartz are known for their quick reinterpretations.)
- Makeup, jewelry, hair: If girls take cues from the red carpet, makeup will be of the fresh-faced sheer pink variety, say Chase and Goodkind. Updos will be a little messy rather than severe, and necklaces and chandelier earrings will be omitted in favor of cuff bracelets and cluster earrings.
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- About the boys: Chase thinks some guys will emulate the likes of Justin Timberlake and Terrence Howard and wear just a shirt and vest, not a jacket. And long straight ties will continue to be favored over bow ties.