Prom season is just around the corner, but if your household happens to include a teenage girl or two, it's likely you have long been aware the magical event for your teen is just weeks away-an eternity in the eyes of many females under the age of 18, and just a blink of the eyes in the view of others.
Parents who brave prom dress shopping expeditions have good reason to look locally for immediate access to top quality prom dresses of all styles and in a wide array of price points and sizes.
Thanks to the high level of quality dresses offered through local boutiques such as the recently opened Holly's Dress Boutique in St. Clairsville and the well known shop, Dee's Country Bridal in the Sunset Heights section of Bridgeport, and as well, the Ohio Valley Mall Road location of the national women's formalwear retail chain David's Bridal, shoppers need never venture beyond the region's boundaries in search of just the right dress for any formal or semi-formal event.
Prom looks this season range from ultra glamourous to a more traditional look, like the iridescent champagne-colored fabric used in the fit and flare gown. Many dresses which feature laceup closures come with a modesty panel insert which can easily be placed behind the laced area. Kayla George, a senior at Bishop Donahue, chose a classic tiara and coordinating chandelier earrings to finish the look.
A little time spent online searching among the multitude of prom dress vendor sites readily found there can prove quite helpful in getting a general idea of popular design style points such as hemlines, waistlines, necklines, colors, fabrics, embellishments, accessories, shoes, and even hairstyles.
It also provides an opportunity for parents and children to try to find their way-peacefully-to common ground on details of the sometimes sensitive issues of price range and the "age appropriateness" of a particular dress.
Internet resources are also a great way to gather ideas about different looks your teen might be setting as her individual goal for her prom night appearance. It can also prove to provide reliable information for parents getting ready to foot the bill for a carefully coordinated ensemble of components often reaching from head to toe on their child-literally.
A quick call to your local retailer asking what dress lines they carry, which others do they have ordering access to, do they offer the often vital services of a skilled seamstress in house, if not - do they have connections for their customers with seamstresses in the immediate area; what sort of lead time is needed if a dress has to be special ordered and is expected to need altering, and what are the sort of costs that can be expected to accompany these services; are payment schedules available if a dress has to be ordered; can a dress in-store be purchased through making scheduled payments.
Most specialty formalwear stores such as these three local shops offer a variety of accessories to complete a particular formal look, including jewelry, gloves, shoes, specialized foundations, hair fascinors, formal clutch purses, bird cage veils and highly unique items such as hand held masquerade masks.
Holly Rauschenberg is experiencing her businesses' first prom season, having just opened the doors on her boutique in time to serve homecoming dress clients last fall. Her inventory reaches across numerous design boundaries, and includes items she has had the opportunity to hand select from among the lines she has established relationships with such as Jovani, Sherri Hill, Mac Duggal, Scala, Dana Mathers Prom, Wow Prom, LaFemme and others. Her most popular line of evening shoes is the vast offerings available through the Sweetie's collection.
"I wanted to be able to offer customers access to great dresses lines without them having to leave the area," shared Raushenberg.
Dee's Country Bridal owner Dee Higgs has been in business at her Sunset Heights shop for 18 years.
She agrees with Raushenberg about the ability of their respective independent shops to more than meet the needs of customers who might once have thought a trip to a metropolitan shopping mega mall was needed before the perfect dresses could be found for prom or homecoming.
Higgs took her business in one additional direction: she added tuxedo rentals as an option. In addition to prom gowns, she is also able to personally provide rental and purchase access to quality tuxedos at this same location-a service not often available under the same roof as a formalwear dress shop. She offers access to five major tuxedo lines.
"Having everything under one roof really helps make it easier for everyone to make sure everything is coordinated correctly," she offered, allowing that in addition to traditional and modern cut tuxedos, she can also access the "unique" such as a "full on camo tux or the 'Dumb and Dumber' pastel looks."
On the serious side of the planning for prom, Higgs and Rauschenberg offer parents a particularly sage point to question school officials about directly before purchasing any prom gowns.
"More and more schools are establishing regulations about what they will and will not permit students attending their school prom to wear. So, my advice to parents is to contact the school officials yourself and find out if any rules have been set down that address things like allowing dresses with cutouts to be worn, how low a plunging back is allowed to go, before school officials say it's not allowed," Higgs offered. "Schools are increasing these kinds of rules for things like proms, so it just makes sense for parents to take a minute to check with school officials before you find yourself having to buy a second dress because the first one did not meet standards."
Higgs is a supporter of shoppers taking the time to get a few things ironed out at home about budgets and design issues, and also suggests customers feel free to print out a picture of a gown style they like.
"It is a great way to give me a place to start when it comes to finding a dress a person is going to like," offered Higgs. Among her top selling lines are Riva Designs Tiffany Gowns, and Jasz Couture.
Her opinion on this point seems to be shared by many others in the industry from companies like David's Bridal, which make an extensive collection of information and photos of their lines available online and in print collections a customer or potential customer can take home with them.
Walk-in customers are welcome at all three of these local businesses, but they also welcome phone calls about current hours and the possible need for an appointment on a given day.
At the St. Clairsville location of David's Bridal, Sondra Wojchowski, service supervisor for the local store, has seen a major addition to fabrics this year incorporating big, bold colorful prints into the gown designs.
She is also seeing a great rise in the popularity of ball gowns this prom season over the last, as well as more interest in the growing retro-idea of the convertible dress and skirt-a short dress worn initially with a long overskirt that is meant to be removed for the more informal short evening dress look.
Representatives of each store noted parents should feel completely welcome to ask about financing options-which often can include layaway and other purchasing options.