Prom dresses for under $200: here's how

Prom dresses like this one for under $200
Prom dresses like this one for under $200

You've been hearing the word on your teenager's lips for several weeks now: prom. It almost has an ominous ring, doesn't it? And once you add up what it's going to cost you -- tickets, prom dresses, accessories, limo, photos, and oh, the dreaded afterparty plans -- prom probably seems like even less fun as a parent than it was as an awkward adolescent.

If you have a daughter, what sets the tone for the night -- and the spending total -- is undeniably the dress. But fear not: you can find something you both love for under $200. A few tips:

  • Lucky enough to live in a town where all the girls wear cocktail-length dresses to prom? Awesome. You may be able to outfit your kid for under $100. Just today, Forever 21 blasted out an e-mail of its formal-appropriate minis: you can find stylish dresses like this peplum-pleated dress ($29.80) or this rockabilly-inspired polka dot number ($24.80). One caveat: make her come out of the dressing room and show you these on before you purchase them -- Forever 21 dresses can sometimes run tiny, and even if everyone's going short, you don't want her going short.