Becoming prom queen is not a matter to be left to chance. Every minute of a school prom must be meticulously planned, if school-leavers are to be given the send-off they deserve, according to teen magazine Bliss.
To help would-be divas access their inner glamour, it has produced a detailed planner, counting down the months, weeks and days to the big event. As a first step, the magazine offers advice on persuading the "ol'
head honcho" to give permission. "So I can pull gorgeous Gary from 11C is not a good reason," it says. "Head'll be impressed by things like improving school spirit, developing our business skills and raising money for the NSPCC."
Dave Lee-Allan, assistant head at Notley high, in Essex, said: "Pupils learn from planning a prom. But largely it's a morale-booster. It gives constructive focus to leaving, which is better than the days of throwing egg and flour."
Many pupils will spend more than pound;100 on the prom, including outfit, hair-styling and transport.
So the Bliss planner suggests that nothing should be left to chance, offering hints on choosing music, booking a photographer and breaking in prom shoes.
It says: "The dress has to be perfect. And don't forget accessories: for show-stopping glamour, make sure they sparkle."
But Ann Conway, prom organiser at Islington Arts and Media comprehensive, London, said the school prom is not merely about expensive dresses. "If we said pupils had to wear ballgowns or suits, no one would come," she said.
"We've told them to come as themselves. The emphasis is on fun, rather than dressing up."
As the prom draws near, the planner's advice becomes increasingly practical: "Make sure you've got everything you need ... You don't want to look like a drag queen ... Grab something to eat."
For boys, too, the lead-up to the prom requires near-military precision.
Adam Ford, 16 spent pound;43 hiring a dinner jacket, waistcoat and bow-tie for his prom at Priory community school, in Somerset. He said: "I really looked the part. Because you get dressed up you act more sensibly. It's much better than an end-of-school disco."
How we did it, 29