What Types of Clothes Do Teens Wear to Homecoming Dances?

by A. Elizabeth Freeman

At many high schools, the homecoming dance is the first big dance of the school year. Although most schools have a dance and often an accompanying football game, what to wear to the dance varies from school to school. Some schools host a formal dance and expect students to dress for the occasion. At other schools, the dance is considerably more casual and students aren't expected to dress up.

Casual

If the dress code for a homecoming dance is casual, that doesn't necessarily mean teenagers can wear whatever they want. Some schools might allow students to wear jeans or shorts while others define casual as collared shirts and khakis for guys and non-formal skirts, dresses or pantsuits for girls. A school might define the dress for a dance as "business casual," which means students can't wear T-shirts or shorts. Casual shoes include tennis shoes or sneakers, but not flip-flops or slippers.

Semi-Formal

If the dress for a homecoming dance is semi-formal, teens typically dress up, but not as if they were headed to prom. A girl might wear a dress that is knee-length or a longer gown. Boys are usually expected to wear a suit, including a jacket. If a teenage boy doesn't want to wear a jacket or tie, he might wear a dress shirt and a pair of dark trousers. Semi-formal shoes for girls might mean a pair of high heels or dressy sandals. A girl might decide to wear a pair of high heeled shoes to the dance, then change into comfortable flats to dance in.

Formal

Teens attending a homecoming dance with a formal dress code typically dress to the nines. That can mean renting a tuxedo for guys, or at the very least, wearing a full suit. Girls often wear long gowns to formal dances. A formal gown can mean a ball gown with a full skirt or a more fitted dress, such as a trumpet or mermaid-style gown. Some gowns might be floor length or fall to mid-calf, depending on a girl's taste. Since she'll be dancing, it's usually not a good idea to wear a dress that's long enough to trip over or a dress with a train.

Dress Code Rules

A lot of schools have specific rules when it comes to dance attire. The rules are often in place to encourage teens to dress modestly. Some schools state that a girl's dress can't be shorter than 6 inches above her knee, while others state that a dress needs to be longer than fingertip length. Dresses should also not have cut-out details or be low-cut, even if those features are currently in style. Clothing that is too big or baggy might not be allowed, along with clothing that is torn, even if the tear is part of the style. If a teen is headed to a dance at another school, he should find out the school's rules before choosing an outfit.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.

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