Green Prom: Three Ways You Can Make Your Night Better For Mother Earth

Sustainable prom looks from The Reformation.
Photo: The Reformation

Despite all the talk of sustainability and environmental consciousness in the fashion industry these days, it can still be hard to find a prom dress that looks amazing but isn’t hurting the earth in the process. Not only are a lot of clothes produced using processes and materials that aren’t all that good for the environment, the people producing them, or ultimately the girl wearing them, a lot of clothing is produced in such enormous quantities that a certain amount of waste is inevitable. Don’t think that means you have to wear hemp to your prom, though. While one of the biggest trends in socially-conscious formal wear are dresses made of cotton alternatives, that is by no means the only option (although there are also some really rad hemp dresses out there, just saying).


The first is, of course, to buy a sustainably-produced gown. There are some designers making incredible dresses in an environmentally conscious way, most notably New York City’s The Reformation, which uses over 80% reclaimed materials to make some of the most eye-catching dresses and rompers around. We’re big fans of the whimsically printed Ladybug Dress ($298); the long sleeved, slit backed Gulf romper ($218); and the sweet and effortless red teepee dress ($188). You may ALSO remember that our Editor-At-Large Mary H.K. Choi wore a romper from the brand to this year’s Grammy Awards. See y’all, red carpet tested, prom approved.

Of course one of the biggest contenders for sustainable prom looks this year is H&M. While fast fashion might sound antithetical to the cause of an environmentally-friendly prom night, the company is making huge strides in their use of reclaimed and recycled fabrics and overall sustainability. We showed you some of our favorite looks from the H&M’s Conscious Collection when the lookbook was released last month, and we keep coming back to some of the designs again and again.


If buying a brand new dress isn’t your thing or your main concern is waste, there’s not just one but two options you can try. First of all, you can rent your prom dress from a company like Rent The Runway, which will also allow you to wear a dress that you miiiiiight not be able to afford on your allowance alone otherwise. Seem to good to be true? It really isn’t! For under $200, you can wear fun frocks to red carpet staples, and you don’t even have to pay for the dry cleaning afterwards. The fact that you didn’t buy a dress that you’ll never wear again saves the environment some fuel and resources, and you still get to look incredible at your prom!


Finally, of course, one of the most sustainable ways to purchase your prom dress is to buy vintage. While this probably won’t get rid of the issue of harsh products and materials being used to make your togs, you’ll know that you’re not contributing to a landfill somewhere. There are so many vintage options both in-person and online that it’s hard to dive right into, but as long as you know what era you’re looking to channel, you can relatively easily find whatever it is you’re looking for. The first thing you should do is take your measurements, and then check anywhere from Etsy to eBay to your local Salvation Army, and you’ll be sure to come away with a plethora of prom dresses that don’t break the bank OR hurt mother earth.

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