Prom Hair Style

Choosing a prom hair style ranks right up there with choosing a dress.

In fact, the two elements work together to create your entire look. Or at least they should.

This article will help you decide how to style your hair for prom and perhaps provide some ideas you hadn't even considered.

Unlike past eras, there is no strict definition of what is 'in style' these days... anything goes.

BUT, it is still important to choose a style that is flattering and compliments your features and your dress, while also speaking to who you are as an individual.


An updo for prom is an appropriately formal, timeless look. But also very customizable to express your unique style.

Romantic, ethereal updo hairstyle

Romantic, ethereal updo hairstyle with messy braiding and an artful cluster of flowers

Sleek curly updo

Sleek curls are arranged high on the crown with a cascade of loose waves tumbling down the back

Bouncy curls woven into a classic updo

Sections of bouncy curls are twisted and woven into a classic updo hairstyle

Low curly chignon

Naturally curly hair gathered into a sophisticated chignon at the nape and adorned with a small accessory to give the style a more formal look

Updo on very curly hair

Hair is pulled up from the back and sides to create and umbrella of curls that frame the face beautifully

Modern chignon

Asymmetric chignon pinned just behind the ear and long sweeping bang section at front


Leaving half the hair down gives the style a more youthful, casual feel. It creates a nice, balanced look with a dress that is quite open at the top.

Bob updo

The top half of this shoulder length bob hairstyle is pinned up, giving the hair a fun formal look

Half updo on long hair

Sleek loops pinned at the crown and cascading down the neck in loose waves

Sleek half updo with contrasting disheveled ends

A fashion forward style with bouffant in crown and contrasting disheveled, backcombed ends left out

Funky Prom Styles

If the elegant or classic styles just aren't for you, perhaps something with a bit more pizzaz is the ticket. Especially if your dress is on the more daring side. These funky styles will set you apart from the crowd and do justice to an edgy prom dress, completing the look.

Crimped side buns Fun, free spirited updo with curls pinned and ends left out for texture Hairpiece in short hairstyle to create a funky look Rocker style updo with cornrow braids at the sides and a hint of rockabilly style

Down Styles

There is no hard and fast rule that says a hairstyle for prom MUST be an updo of some sort. These gorgeous styles are every bit as worthy of a night in the limelight. If having your hair down is more within your comfort zone, or you think the look would better suit your dress, go for it. Here are some beautiful examples of prom worthy hairstyles.

Long loose wavey hairstyle Large voluptuous waves on long, sleek hair Deep side part and long sweeping bangs with one side of hair swept back behind ear Half of bang section pulled back and secured with accessory

Finding the right style

Here are a few important factors to consider when narrowing down the type of style that will be best for you.

Face Shape - Just like your day to day hair style, your prom hairstyle should compliment your face shape. It's all about proportion. Here are a few 'rules of thumb'...

  • Long Face Shape - opt for a style with a sweeping bang from a side part and more volume on the sides than on top. Too much height on top will accentuate the length of your face.
  • Short Face Shape - try a swept back style with some height on top. Leaving some of the hair down in the back and sides will help elongate your face.
  • Wide Face Shape - leave some hair down at the sides to create length and a narrowing effect.
  • Heart Shaped Face - wear bangs to cover a wide forehead and allow some hair to pool at the shoulders to create width in the narrowest area of the face.

Search for hairstyles that suit your face shape and hair type.

Dress Style and Neckline - Proportion is key here too. If you're wearing a slender dress, choose a hair style in keeping with that silhouette. If your dress is wide on the bottom, make sure you've got a bit of volume to your hairstyle to balance the entire look.

The neckline of your dress is critical to consider when choosing your prom hair style. If your dress has an open neckline in the front and back, wearing the bulk of your hair down would look great. However, if the back is covered or the front and back are both closed in, consider wearing most or all of your hair up off the neck. An elegant updo would suit that type of dress very well.

Accessories - Use accessories sparingly in your prom hair style. A few rhinestone hair pins, small flowers, a string of pearls, even a tiara can add character to your style and compliment your dress. Overuse of accessories can look a bit garish, so keep it minimal; just enough for impact.

Hair Texture - Curls are a prom hair style staple and can be done in several shapes and sizes. But they're not the only way to texturize your style. Small braids woven throughout the hair add a unique element. Bone straight hair can look great in an updo, so long as there's a bit of height to it and heaps of shine. Finger waves add a glamorous feel and are great for dressing up shorter hair styles.

Updo or Not - Just because it's a prom hair style doesn't mean it has to be an updo. Hair left down and styled in voluptuous waves can be every bit as glamorous as an updo hair style. Especially with a few select accessories; a flower behind the ear or a rhinestone tiara. The larger consideration is if a style suits your dress, your face shape and your overall theme.

Theme - Your dress will have a certain feel to it. Glamorous, funky, classic, etc... Make sure your prom hair style is in keeping with the feel of your dress. You're creating a head to toe look and if an element is off, the look becomes awkward. (i.e., a vintage dress will benefit from a vintage inspired hairstyle)

Put some thought into how you'd describe your look and design a hair style around that theme. Or relate your theme to your stylist if you're having your hair professionally done. (Which I highly recommend) If you are having your hair done by a stylist, bring in a photo of you in your dress. This will help the stylist envision your entire look and make more appropriate suggestions.

Consultation and Trial - If you're having your hair done at a salon it's a good idea to visit the stylist beforehand for a consultation and/or a trial. Consultations are generally free. The stylist will sit with you, look at photos, discuss your ideas, and share their thoughts on what would look good and be workable on your hair type and face shape.

A trial is an appointment where the stylist actually does your hair to see if your plans work out to match your vision. The trial appointment is not free, but well worth it to avoid any potential prom day hair disasters. If you have a trial appointment and like the results, take a photo of the finished style. This will help the stylist recall what he/she did to your hair so you end up with the style you want on that important day.

Also, double check that the prom hair style booking is with the same stylist that did your trial. Mix-ups happen sometimes and it would be unfortunate to end up with a completely different hair stylist on your prom day.

Check out our bridal hair style galleries for more hairstyle ideas.

Have a fun, safe prom! You'll be stunning. ;)

You might also like:
This site offers a free virtual hair style demo where you can view different formal hair styles for inspiration. If you register, you can upload a photo of yourself and see the styles on your own face.
This site features celebrity inspired jewelry at reasonable prices. They carry decorative hairpins, tiaras, and jewelry sets that'll be a great addition to your prom hair style.

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