As many of the comments in a weekend post about prom dress shopping agreed, a lot of you say if you find something early that you love, you should go for it. But exactly when is the socially-accepted time to start planning for prom shenanigans and fashion?

Yep, that’s me on the far left, mugging at the wrong camera before getting down at my junior prom. (Also, fun fact: That’s fashion and beauty editor Kackie on the far right! Besties!) This happened in May, but my dress — that mess of fushia sequins — I got by pure accidental luck about six months before. While browsing through the Goodwill racks, like a raccoon, the sparkle caught my eye and I rabidly plucked it from the rack. Marked down from its original boutique pricing, $250, the glitz gown became mine for a measly $20.

I felt like I could have never found a dress so uniquely 17-year-old Beca as that one if I had been on the hunt specifically for it. I felt overjoyed. It was fate. Such gaudy, glammy fate.

My first prom, however, I frantically picked up a tea-length style at Dillards the week or so before. And for senior prom, I got a really gorgeous 1950s taffeta number from a vintage shop about a month ahead. Even though those two were definitely good dresses, I wouldn’t call either my best. That award goes to the wearable disco ball at the top of this post.

When is the “right” time to set out for prom gear? What did your favorite prom dress look like?

Note: I still have this dress but have not worn it much. It fits about a size 2. You want? Only $20.