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Do couples have to match at prom?

Prom is a special event for high school students to celebrate the end of their academic career. It’s a night full of music, dancing, and memories that will last a lifetime. One of the big questions couples face when preparing for prom is whether or not their outfits need to match. There are valid arguments on both sides of this debate. In the opening sections, we’ll go over some quick pros and cons of matching vs. non-matching prom outfits.

Pros of Matching Outfits

– Shows you’re a united couple
– Makes for great pictures
– Fulfills the prom tradition
– Allows for coordinated colors

Cons of Matching Outfits

– Can look cheesy or overdone
– Removes individuality
– Pressure to match perfectly
– One person may dislike the look

Pros of Non-Matching Outfits

– Allows personal style and preference
– More individuality and autonomy
– Freedom to pick own colors
– Less pressure to coordinate

Cons of Non-Matching Outfits

– May look disjointed in photos
– Doesn’t fulfill prom tradition
– Couple may clash with colors
– Shows less unity as a couple

As you can see, there are reasonable points to be made for both matching and non-matching prom outfits. The choice comes down to the couple’s preferences and priorities for the event. Now let’s dive deeper into the factors couples should consider when making this decision.

Things to Consider

When deciding whether to match prom outfits, here are some key considerations:

Your personal styles

Do you and your partner have similar fashion tastes? If so, matching may be easy and natural. But if you have wildly different personal styles, matching outfits could feel forced or inauthentic. Know your tastes and find a compromise if they don’t align.

Comfort level with tradition

Matching is seen as the more traditional prom choice. If upholding this classic prom look is important to you, matching may be the way to go. But if you don’t care about tradition, feel free to express your individuality.

Opinions of friends/family

Think about what your closest friends and family envision for your prom look. If they expect you to match your date, their opinions could influence your decision. But don’t let others make the choice for you – do what feels right.

Venue formality

A formal, upscale prom venue may call for a more elegant, coordinated look. But at a laidback, casual prom, matching outfits could feel overly stiff. Consider the formality of the event.

Color scheme preferences

Do you both like similar colors? Matching allows you to align on complementary hues for a coordinated palette. With non-matching outfits, you risk clashing colors in photos.

Cost considerations

Matching outfits doubles the cost of buying or renting attire. If budget is a concern, separating may be more affordable. But don’t let money be the sole deciding factor.

Future memories

Picture yourself looking back at prom photos 10 or 20 years from now. Would you regret not matching your date? Or would you wish you had exercised more individuality? Keep the power of memories in mind.

Popular Prom Outfit Pairings

If you decide to match your prom date, here are some of the most popular coordinated looks:

Matching colors

Pick complementary colors like black and white, red and pink, or blue and purple. Match the shade precisely or just match the color family.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Red Red vest and tie
Navy blue Navy blue vest and tie
Blush pink Blush pink vest and tie

Matching patterns

Select outfits with identical or complementary prints, like florals, plaids, stripes, or paisleys. The patterns don’t have to be exact, just harmonious.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Black floral print Black floral print tie
Red plaid Red plaid vest
Navy stripes Navy pinstripe suit

Matching styles

If colors and patterns feel too matchy-matchy, simply coordinate similar dress styles. Like a strapless chiffon gown and tuxedo, or an A-line tulle dress and three-piece suit.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Strapless chiffon gown Classic tuxedo
A-line tulle dress Three-piece suit
Mermaid satin dress Notch lapel tux

Standout Non-Matching Outfits

For couples who want to express their individuality, here are some gorgeous non-matching prom outfit ideas:

Complementary colors

Wear colors in the same family, like pastels, jewel tones, or warm earthy tones. You’ll coordinate without exactly matching.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Lilac purple Forest green
Champagne Navy blue
Red orange Golden yellow

Contrasting colors

Make your outfits pop by selecting opposite or contrasting colors on the color wheel. Stay within the same level of formality.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Emerald green Berry red
Baby blue Chestnut brown
Lavender Lime green

Differing styles

Pick distinct silhouettes and styles that play off each other in an appealing way, like a ballgown and a modern skinny suit.

Girl’s Dress Boy’s Suit/Tux
Ballgown Skinny suit
Short cocktail dress Tuxedo with tails
Mermaid gown Navy suit with vest

Tips for Coordinating Colors

If you opt to match or complement colors, use these handy tips for a flawless look:

Pick a neutral base

A neutral like black, white, gray, or beige allows the other person to select a color that flatters them. You can’t go wrong with a neutral foundation.

Know your undertones

Determine if your skin is warm, cool, or neutral, and select colors that complement this. Ask your date their undertones too.

Use a color wheel

A color wheel shows complementary hues, shades to avoid, and how to create cohesive color schemes. Use it to guide your choices.

Check colors in person

Colors can look different in real life than online/in pictures. View fabric swatches together before finalizing any decisions.

Photograph color combos

Take pictures of you wearing potential colors next to each other. Check if they look good together before purchasing.

Tips for Matching Patterns

Matching or pairing patterns presents its own unique challenges. Keep these tips in mind:

Select similar patterns

Matching exactly isn’t necessary. Go for patterns in the same family like florals, geometrics, or paisleys.

Repeat colors in patterns

Choose patterns that share at least one identical color. This helps them feel cohesive.

Scale and shape matters

Make sure pattern sizes and shapes are proportional. Pair small ditsy florals with a larger floral print, for example.

Limit pattern mixing

Stick to one or two printed elements. A patterned gown, patterned tie, AND patterned vest starts to look chaotic.

Know which patterns to avoid

Stay away from mixing large and small plaids, florals and stripes, or patterns with very different scales.

When to Start Planning

Now that we’ve covered plenty of matching and non-matching outfit ideas, when should you start planning? Here’s a timeline:

8-10 months in advance

If buying custom outfits, order early to allow time for alterations. Start browsing ideas.

6-8 months out

Officially decide if you’ll match or not. View dresses and suits in person.

4-5 months before

Purchase outfits and shoes. Break in shoes to ensure comfort.

1-2 months before

Have minor alterations done if needed. Purchase accessories like jewelry.

2 weeks before

Steam outfits and do a full ensemble try-on. Make any last tweaks.


At the end of the day, decide what makes you and your partner most comfortable. If you love coordinating looks, go for it. If expressing your individual styles is more your speed, embrace the chance to shine. No matter what, make choices that reflect your personalities and your ideals for this special high school milestone. Follow the planning timeline above, and you’re sure to look back on your prom memories fondly.