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Get prom-ready on the cheap

When Emily Browning, the 22-year-old star of the film Sucker Punch, arrived at Nylon magazine’s recent 12th anniversary party, she might have accidentally found what could be a terrific prom dress. Her gray, strapless frilly frock was fun, flirty and super versatile. And why shouldn’t a prom dress be something you could wear to a fancy Hollywood magazine soiree too?

With prom season right around the corner, many teens have started that search for just the right dress. However elusive and unattainable that concept may seem, the quest for the perfect prom dress is a rite that has plagued generations of teenage girls. After attending seven high school proms and purchasing seven “perfect” dresses, I learned a very valuable lesson. It’s not about how much money you spend, how many bows you can fit into a square inch of fabric or if your tulle pouf is too poufy to fit through the limo doors. The perfect dress should be practical enough to wear on numerous occasions, boogey-ready, make you feel ridiculously pretty and have that certain “swoon factor” — when you walk down the stairs, your date had better be speechless and his jaw hitting the floor. If you’re on a budget but still want to look fab for the big night, you’re in luck. We have found some unbelievably frugal finds, inspired by Browning’s look, for less than $100. These oh-so-pretty outfits you can wear to oh-so-many things are guaranteed to keep your date swooning. If you’re more conservative in your style choices but still going for a fun party dress, the Bloomingdale’s brand Aqua makes a sleeveless striped party dress for $62.16 and Zara has a gold brocade dress for $79.90. If you’re the type of girl who adores your Nirvana CD but wonders who Michael Buble is, you might want to check out Urban Outfitters for a dress. My top three favorites are the Meadow lace grosgrain dress for $49.99, Staring at Stars strapless bow-tie dress for $19.99 and the Kimchi Blue Gosling dress for $19.99. A prom queen tiara would be an ideal accessory, but a pair of sparkly party earrings and bracelets will ensure you’re prom-ready: Try a Simply Vera Vera Wang jet-tone knot bracelet from Kohl’s for $11.70, Disco ball drop earrings in black by Lisa Freede jewelry for $48 and the Pyramid panel bracelet from Forever 21 for $10.80. Strap on some solid-colored heels, grab a cute clutch and you’re ready for the big dance.