School will soon be out for summer which means that prom season is just around the corner. Like most formal occasions, there is a certain etiquette associated with prom; particularly the giving and wearing of a corsage. Finding the perfect prom corsage can seem a little daunting, especially when you're out to impress, but don't worry, we're here to help. We’ve answered all your commonly asked questions surrounding prom etiquette and corsages to help you get it right.
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When is prom season in the UK?
There are two popular times for prom in the UK; the first is at the end of Year 11 when pupils are leaving secondary school (ages 15/16), and the second is in Year 13 after completing A-levels (ages 17/18).
In Scotland it’s slightly different as only one prom is held at the end of year S6 (ages 17/18).
Why do we go to prom?
As with a lot of things in pop culture, the prom originated in America. The fashion for extravagant parties for school leavers didn't catch on in the UK until the late '90s. Now around 85% of schools splash out on a lavish prom and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
The prom is seen as an incentive to reward hard-working students at the end of their exams, and is a great way for friends to say goodbye before starting the next chapter of their lives either at university or in their new careers.
What is a corsage?
A corsage is either a single flower or a small collection of flowers traditionally worn by women at formal occasions to accessorise their outfit.
- Wrist corsage - especially popular for prom, this type of corsage is worn on the wrist. The flowers are either wired onto a bracelet or secured to the wrist using decorative ribbons.
- Pinned corsage - one of the most traditional types of corsage. The flowers are pinned to a strap or the bodice of your outfit. The ideal choice for those who find a wrist corsage a bit awkward to wear.
- Handbag corsage - as the name suggests, this type of corsage is pinned to a handbag rather than on your outfit. An ideal choice if you are wearing a particularly delicate fabric and are worried that a pin may snag your clothes.
- Hair corsage - these can vary from a ring of flowers worn on the head (known as a flower crown) to a small selection of flowers pinned into the hair. Wearing flowers in your hair has become incredibly popular for summer occasions such as proms, festivals and weddings.
Let’s not forget the men - it’s become popular for men to wear a buttonhole (or boutonniere in French) in their suit lapel, often matching the style of their prom date.
Why do we wear corsages to prom?
The word ‘corsage’ comes from the French for ‘corps’ meaning ‘body’ which relates to where the flowers are pinned or worn.
The tradition of wearing a corsage in the UK comes from the Victorians (as do many other things - like the Christmas tree). When attending formal events, the Victorians wore small collections of herbs and flowers to keep evil spirits at bay.
Victorian men would also send small bouquets of flowers to ladies they admired in the hope they would be worn to the event they were both attending. This tradition has stood the test of time which is why corsages are worn at proms today and why they play such an important role at other formal occasions including weddings and graduations.
Who wears corsages?
Corsages are traditionally worn by women at formal occasions to accessorise their outfit. They are often worn at weddings by members of the bridal party and wedding guests and are also a popular accessory for prom.
How do I wear a corsage or buttonhole?
Ladies have the choice of wearing a corsage on their outfit, wrist, pinned to a handbag or even in their hair. If pinning a corsage to clothing, it should be worn on the right hand side of the bodice or dress strap close to the shoulder, with the flowers pointing downwards.
Men wear buttonholes in the left lapel of their suit jacket.
How do I pin a corsage or buttonhole?
When pinning a corsage or buttonhole to clothing, the pin goes into the fabric on the left side of the flower as you’re facing it, back up through the fabric on the left side, over the stem of the flower at an angle, down through the fabric on the right side of the flower as you’re facing it and back up through the fabric on the right side with the point of the pin hidden under the flower. Use two pins in an X formation if the flowers are particularly heavy. The pin should always go over the stem of the flower and never through it.
What wrist does a corsage go on?
If you'd rather wear your corsage on your wrist, then it is traditionally tied to the left wrist. However, in recent years wrist corsages tend to be worn on the lady’s non-dominant wrist.
Who buys the corsage for prom?
It’s custom for the young man to buy his prom date a corsage and give it to her when he goes to pick her up for the prom.
Can you wear a corsage if you don't have a prom date?
You can still wear a corsage to prom even if you haven't got a prom date. Lots of ladies now pick their own corsage or order a set of matching prom corsages along with their group of friends.
Men can also choose a buttonhole to brighten up their suit regardless of whether they’re going with anyone.
How to choose a corsage for prom
Advice when choosing a corsage for your prom date:
As you might have guessed, buying a corsage for your prom date is quite a big deal so here's our advice to help you choose one with confidence:
- What kind of dress is your prom date wearing? If it’s strapless it's best to choose a wrist corsage, or one that can be pinned to a handbag.
- What colour is her dress? A top tip is to choose a wrist corsage in a contrasting colour so that it will enhance the dress. If in doubt, order white flowers. Their neutral colour will look beautiful with any outfit.
- Would she like a hair corsage? If your date would like to wear flowers in her hair, make sure you give her the corsage or hair comb early so that her hairdresser can pin it in for her.
Top Tip: Order your buttonhole at the same time as the corsage to make sure they match.
Advice when choosing a corsage for yourself:
- What type of corsage do you want to wear? This will most likely depend on the style and type of dress you pick. If your dress is strapless then it's best to choose a wrist corsage.
- What embellishments do you like? Some corsages come with jewel stones or pearls woven into the design which are great for adding a little glitz and glamour. You can also choose whether your want your flowers glued to an expandable bracelet or tied with ribbons; your florist will be able to talk you through all the options.
- What colour should the flowers be? It is a good idea to choose a corsage in colours which compliment your dress. You want to avoid clashing colours but equally resist the temptation to play it safe. Choosing a corsage the same shade as your prom dress means your flowers won't stand out in your prom photos. If unsure, you can never go wrong with white or cream flowers. Timeless and classy, a neutral colour palette will complement most outfits.
What flowers should I choose for a corsage?
The most important part of the corsage is of course the flowers but take note that not all flower varieties are suitable for corsages. The most popular flower types are roses, both spray and large headed varieties, orchids and germini. Your local professional florist will be able to advice you which flower will be best.
When do you need to order a corsage?
It's best to order your corsage once you've chosen your dress as you'll almost certainly want to choose one which enhances and complements your look. If you are wanting a bespoke design, your florist will likely ask questions about the colour, style and fabric of your dress and take their design inspiration from what you'll be wearing.
You can order a corsage for prom up to a week before the event by shopping online. If you prefer, or would like a bespoke design, pop in to your local florist to discuss your requirements.
It’s a good idea to have a prom corsage and buttonhole delivered about 12- 6 hours before the event because you want the flowers to stay fresh. Once delivered keep the flowers in a cool place and try not to over-handle them as this will help them stay fresher for longer.
Corsage ideas for prom
Modern corsages come in an amazing variety of styles. You can create a truly personal look by choosing to embellish your corsage with diamanté or pearl pins, coloured wire and even feathers. The sky's the limit - just ask your florist!