Prom Dress Shopping Tips

by Anne Middleton, on March 16th, 2015
boston proper girls prom

Once spring break is over it always feels like someone presses the fast-forward button on the school year, sending high school students and parents screeching towards summer vacation. But before we all get embroiled in final exams and graduation ceremonies, there’s one more big moment awaiting our teens.  Prom. The annual formal fete may be one of the most memorable occasions of the high school years, but it also takes weeks of planning, especially for young ladies who need to shop for that every special dress. As for moms, we are just there for the ride, and our bank account. Though prom dress shopping can be a sweet bonding moment for mothers and daughters, it often goes from rite of passage to horror show in a hurry. So, let’s take a quick break from nagging them to study for their algebra test and complete those college apps (seriously the deadline is right now, why aren’t those done yet) to talk about some ways to keep prom dress shopping easy, successful and budget-friendly.

Pre-shop online

Walking into a formalwear shop with your daughter can be overwhelming, for both of you. Since she probably feels like this is The. Most. Important. Dress. EVER. she is going to want to try every ruffled and sparkly confection on.  To avoid needing a wheelbarrow to haul the possibilities to the fitting room, select the stores you are going to hit up and browse their inventory online first. Since prom is most young ladies’ first experience with formal gowns, she probably doesn’t know her own style very well yet.  Make a list of style numbers, or print pictures, of her favorites from the store website and ask for help locating them. Getting a feel for what she is interested in before heading to the shops will give you an opportunity to discuss the budget and make your time in the store more productive.

Let her express her style

The teen years are all about playing with trends, experimenting with fads and establishing a sense of fashion. But, when it’s time for prom many girls end up feeling like they have to give in to peer pressure and opt for the same style dress as everyone else. Instead, encourage your daughter to ignore everything else and express herself through fashion (as long as it is within dress code).  Who says a prom dress has to be a long, beaded concoction, worn with high heels and an updo? Maybe she would prefer a short skirt with a colorful pair of Converse.  Whatever her tastes, make sure she knows she can be herself and not go in costume as someone else.

Plus, if she is worried about showing up in an identical dress to someone else, many boutiques offer “dress exclusivity”.  The shop records the style of the dress you purchase along with the school name and then does not allow any other students from the same school to purchase the same dress. It allows every reveler to make their own fashion statement.

Make the right shoe choices

Most teens think they need to pair their prom frock with sky-high heels. But, nothing looks more ludicrous than young ladies wobbling, tripping and limping across the dance floor because they haven’t learned to traipse in heels. Most of the time those expensive shoes end up abandoned under the table while the teens amble around with bare feet.  Instead, opt for a pair that is high on fashion but low on heel from Boston Proper. 

Make the most of accessories

An extravagant prom dress is a significant investment, especially since it’s probably going to be shunned to the dark corner of the closet once the night is over. Instead of pillaging her college savings for dress funds, encourage her to choose an elegant, but simple dress that she can liven up with accessories. A classic silhouette can be reworn for all her sorority formals and other upscale events over the next few years. Choose a solid shade and then add statement jewelry, colorful shoes, a fabulous hairstyle and bright nails. When selecting accessories, try to find budget-friendly pieces in crystal, rather than rhinestones. Though the price is right, rhinestones don’t photograph well.

Prep for the after-party

At many schools the official soiree is just the beginning of the evening. Afterwards, teens head to laidback after parties to continue the celebration. Rather than having her drag her lavish dress, remind her to pack a small bag with a change of clothes. A cute pair of shorts and a pair of Ugg boots or Nike athletic shoes should do the trick.