by Lorinda Field, owner
Gown Town

prom-1Prom is a memorable event in a young girl’s high school experience. Shopping for a prom dress with your daughter can be both exciting and stressful. Here are a few things you can keep in mind to help alleviate some of the stress from your next dress shopping venture.

Be open-minded. It is fun to browse together online and see all the latest styles. It will help you get an idea of your daughter’s style preference (and help you set your own biases aside). The danger, however, comes when she picks out the ONE dress that she must have! Window shop as much as you like, but when it comes time to really shop for a dress, keep an open mind and encourage her to try on many different styles. A dress can look completely different on than it does on the model on a website. You both might end up being surprised by what you like.

Set your budget. Discuss your budget before you begin dress shopping. You don’t want your daughter to fall in love with a dress that is out of your price range.  If your budget is tight she might try borrowing from a friend. Definitely check out the local thrift stores for a great find. Renting a prom dress is a fairly new trend and a great low cost option worth checking into. When shopping new, most local prom shops will have a variety of styles for a range of prices. Don’t forget to budget a little extra for shoes and accessories.

Allow plenty of time for shopping. It is important to allow plenty of time for your daughter to try on several dresses, narrow down the choices and pick a favorite. You should allow at least one hour per store when dress shopping. She may find the perfect dress right away, but it is more likely that it will be a longer process. Find an open spot in your schedule that allows plenty of time to shop and not feel rushed.

Dress for successful shopping. Ok, you’ve found time to squeeze in a dress shopping trip between your daughter’s basketball practice and your meeting, but only if you rush straight from practice to the dress shop. Don’t forget to have her bring along the underclothing that she would typically wear to the dance. A sports bra is not the best look under a prom dress. It can also change the fit of the dress more than you would think. It is also helpful to bring along the shoes that she will wear so you can check the length of the dress.

Is modesty is a priority? To save hassle in the store, you should discuss modesty expectations before you start dress shopping. Modest prom dresses can be hard to find. However, if your shopping efforts don’t turn up a ready-made modest dress that your daughter loves, many dresses can be made modest with a few modifications. A wide strap can be added, or a bolero jacket worn, to cover the shoulders. Try having her wear a bandeau or adding matching fabric to fix a too-low neckline. Be creative and envision changes you can make as you shop. Help her understand that if she is comfortable in her dress, she will feel more confident as she dances the night away.