The landmark moment of leaving school is undoubtedly the prom. And although the films focus on Prom Queen votes and finding a date, us Topshop girls know it’s really all about the outfit. Whether it’s that show-stopping dress you’ve been dreaming of for years or cool tailoring to change up the stereotype – prom is a chance to express your own unique style. Need some inspiration to hone yours? We enlisted the know-how of Teen Vogue‘s Market Fashion Editor, Mary Kate Steinmiller, to give us some hints on getting that standout prom look.

Tell us about your own prom…

I had so much fun! I went with a date who was a friend, so wasn’t worried about anything but having fun. I absolutely love dancing, and I love wearing a party dress, so in my mind prom is the best opportunity to do just that.

What tips would you give for finding the perfect prom outfit?

I’m such a supporter of personal style and feeling comfortable. There are few times in life where you really get to dress up and go all out, so have fun with it. I don’t think there are any rules…short dress, long dress, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure you are comfortable, don’t try to be something you are not. Do whatever you can to make the dress “yours”. I love when a girl wears sneakers with her dress, or a leather jacket over it, or accessorises it in her own signature way. It’s easy for girls to look all alike on prom night, but it’s the most inspiring when they really dress up in their own way.

Who would be your ultimate prom King and Queen?

My late teen years were spent watching The OC, so it’s forever Seth and Summer and Marissa and Ryan for me.

Where’s a good place to get inspiration for your prom look?

First, in your own closet…think about what colours you love, what fits your body well, what makes you comfortable, and what makes you confident. From there the red carpet is always a source of information for beauty, hair, dress and accessories inspiration. Look to a celebrity or style icon whose style you admire and take bits and pieces from there.

If you were going to prom tonight, what would you wear?

I’m always wearing some version of white for black tie and dressed up events…white, cream, lace, sparkle..that’s my go-to.

When did you first discover your love of fashion?

When I was little getting dressed was the biggest deal for me…in kindergarten I would only wear my Minnie Mouse dress, day after day after day. I was just always very aware of what I wore and how I put myself together. At school my parents would drive me to another state just to shop at stores we didn’t have yet in our city. It’s always been a very creative thing for me, I’m very inspired by fabric, prints and colour (even though I wear a lot of black and white).

How did you get your big break?

My big break was landing a Teen Vogue internship during my first year at The New School’s Parson’s School of Design. I had a friend who double booked herself with internships, and offered the Teen Vogue one up to me, and that’s where I have stayed for 9 years.

What’s the best bit about your job at Teen Vogue? 

We have the BEST reader. No one inspires me and excites me more than the Teen Vogue reader. I think we have the opportunity to mix brands, and explore trends and utilise technology like no other magazine. When the reader is young, everything becomes that much more energising. We have to keep up!

Any advice for girls wanting to get into fashion?

Don’t get into it for the glamour and fame. It seems like many fashion industry stars and editors are more of celebrities these days. But you have to remember it’s hard work. Everyone has to put in their time and effort in order to succeed. There are a lot of parties, and perks, and glamorous moments, but at the heart of it, it’s the dedication to the product you are putting out that matters. Let your work speak for yourself, and then the success will follow.

What’s you life motto?

My Editor-in-Chief Amy Astley once told me to “let your light shine”, and I try to live by that.

Follow Mary Kate’s words of wisdom and do prom with a difference! Shop the directional dresses, add-on accessories and party perfect make-up right here.