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Let's face it, half the point of prom is getting all dressed up for once. If you've been to the mall in search of a dress (and I'm sure you have,) then you've noticed just how many different kinds there are! Here's my overview of the different kinds of dresses you'll find.

- "Poofy" dresses. These are named because of their look - the skirt poofs out. Crinolin is usually the fablic underneath the dresses that makes them stand out. (Crinolin is essentially like stiff nylon netting.) Some dresses have only one layer or two of crinolin, others can have seven or eight layers. "Poofy" dresses are either strapless or have spaghetti straps. Some may have plain "straight-cut" necklines, but others have a sweetheart neckline. (A sweetheart neckline is like a low cut V neck. It can only be done with a strapless.) Lace-up "corset" backs are very popular this year. Lace-up backs can either give the dress a modern Victorian twist or a playful flirting feel to the dress.

- Sheath dresses. These are the dresses you'll find most often. They are straight cut dresses that usually have low necklines and cut backs. They are often clingy or tight-fitting. Sometimes they are plain, but most times they will be beaded or have a printed design. They almost always have spaghetti straps. Some also have slits in the back or side.

- Strapless dresses. See under two-piece or "poofy" dresses.

- Two-piece dresses. The trend for two-piece dresses can probably be attributed to (or blamed on) pop sensation Christina Aguilera. These are the "fad" style for prom 2000, and if you purchase one of these, expect to see quite a few other people at your prom with them also. These have a floor-length skirt with either a crop top, hankerchief top, or tube top. They can be either strapless and tie in the back or have spaghetti straps.

TIPS

- "Poofy" dresses. Buy a poofy dress that you feel comfortable in. Remember, you're going to have to get in and out of your date's car in it. If that thought makes you nervous, then perhaps you should consider another style. If the dress has a lace-up back, be sure that you are very comfortable with the notion of your dress literally being tied closed instead of zipped up.

- Sheath dresses. If the though of a clingy, form fitting dress isn't appealing, then the sheath dress isn't for you. Try a poofy dress instead.

- Strapless dresses. This style isn't for you if you're very self-conscious or worry about your dress slipping down. Spaghetti straps are your best bet, then.

- Two-piece dresses These dresses obviously expose your midriff, which is why some schools have deemed these inappropriate for prom. If you want to buy on of these, check with your school's prom coordinator just in case.

It's a lot to consider, isn't it? I hope I haven't scared you away and made your consider going to prom in a sheet. Seriously, dress shopping is a lot of fun. Go with a few girlfriends and have at it. When you find that perfect prom dress, it'll all be worth it!