Mary HK Choi
May 08, 2012 8:40 am

Moms are the best. They’re especially best when they’ve offered to help pay for prom because you didn’t save up for six months to buy the Perfect Dress like you had every intention of doing before you bought all that other stuff.

Even if mom is your hardcore bestie and she trusts and adores you, the likelihood that she’ll toss her credit card over and let you prance off to a boutique or hop online to shop your face off without supervision is pretty slim so be prepared for a collaborative experience. Thing is, that experience can be painless and rewarding if you just keep a couple things in mind. Especially ’cause you need to be on speaking terms if you’re throwing yourself at her mercy for shoes, too. Plus, there’s the matter of those earrings…

Communicate!

Moms aren’t mind readers and neither are you. Have a conversation beforehand about what the budget is and if there are any style politics to keep in mind. A lot of high schools have strict dress codes so a lot of the more adventurous/abbreviated options won’t be an issue anyway but if your mom is being weirdly stubborn about getting a long dress or not getting a black dress because she’d love to see you in color “just once,” try to be open. Mom foots the bill, mom gets a vote. At least hear her out.

Be Prepared

Do some online research into what sort of dress you want. Be realistic and flexible and find at least 5 style variations so that if the silhouette isn’t flattering or the fabric looks flammable and chintzy in person you’re not disheartened. I would suggest canvassing beforehand and going so far as to trying things on but do not put on hold that which is too expensive or made of ocelots when your mom is a vegan card-carrying member of PETA. Psyching her up for it won’t work. You’re setting yourself up for a big fight and major disappointment. And say you do get your way through strong-arming and bullying, know this: you, my friend, have set in motion a series of events that will assure that you’ll have a miserable time prom dress shopping with your own daughter years from now. *Thunder clap*

Oh, and bring snacks so nobody gets punchy and irate. It’s amateur status to let dipping blood sugar come between you and your dress.

Be Patient

Try not to be terse or dismissive. It can be stressful finding the right dress but remember that this awesome woman is parting ways with her awesome-woman money to make sure you have a magical night looking exquisite. Pan out a little: THIS IS SO GREAT AND YOU ARE SO LUCKY. Some people don’t even have moms. Real talk.

Try your best to have this on your mind. Who knows why she would opt to show you a bafflingly retrograde cocktail length dress in a treacly color that neither you nor your friends would be caught dead in so don’t roll your eyes and insult it outright. What if it’s the sort of dress she wore to her prom? And on that note, don’t insult her intelligence either, she totally knows it’s not your style, she just thought it would be funny for you to check out. GAWD.

Here’s the thing: you may have to try on countless charmeuse, illusion-skirted, studded, sequined, sweetheart necklined monstrosities to find the right dress but stay strong. It’s easy to take out frustrations on someone you love especially when they’re trying to be helpful (Aaaaack! So annoying!) so breathe and try not to set the entire store on fire. And, finally, definitely (definitely, definitely) have your most fashionable, objective BFF on standby for Face Time or photo texting just in case yours + Mom’s shopping energy goes to a weird place. It has happened to the best of us and it’s not pretty. Happy shopping.

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