by Shirley Mason of The Frock Exchange, Fenstanton, Cambs
Each year, most girls choosing a prom dress tend to want one of just four 'looks':
- The Little Minx
- The Prom Queen
- The Girl Next Door
- Do I really have to wear a dress?
The majority of girls going to their first prom are not accustomed to wearing dresses, and many are not even happy in a skirt. It can therefore be very daunting for them to choose a 'look'. Many will opt for the 'girl next door' look, and would prefer to stay in the background with something very plain and ordinary. Some will be going all out for the Prom Queen title, and will choose the most glamorous dress she can find. There is nothing wrong with either of these extremes, and all girls really should be encouraged to choose the style of dress they feel most comfortable with.
Some see themselves as the 'bad girl of the class', and will want the 'Little Minx' look. Then of course there are those who 'don't do dresses', and need weeks of persuasion to swap their jeans for an elegant evening gown! Actually, the 'Girl Next Door' and the 'Do I really have to wear a dress' types are often the most rewarding for dress shop owners to work with - they are the ones who visibly grow in stature and in confidence when they see themselves for the first time in a really special dress. They suddenly realise that they can look every bit as glamorous as all their friends.
So which type of dress should you choose? Well, you need to try on a wide variety of styles and colours to find what you feel comfortable with, and what suits you. To find out what really suits you of course, you must take someone to the shop with you, but therein lies another problem! If you take a friend, she may well have a hidden agenda; is she really so selfless that she will want you to look better than she does? Grannies may tend towards the floral printed cotton look, and Mums and daughters don't always see eye to eye. Dads too are influenced by emotion, and tend to prefer the 'Girl Next Door' or the 'Prom Queen' look. You must take someone shopping with you, but remember that the most useful advice is often right there in the shop.
At The Frock Exchange, we always advise the client that it's not in our interests to make anyone look stupid, and that we do have the experience to maximise anyone's assets (however hard they are to find sometimes). Any reputable business owner knows how important the school prom is to a teenager, and should be prepared to spend a lot of time with their customers to achieve the perfect 'look'. It's unrealistic to assume that one certain style will suit a very tall girl whereas another will suit a very tiny girl - it's a question of trying on, trying on and trying on again. We know when we've found the right one - the client's eyes light up, and almost imperceptibly she starts to preen a little. We just love it when that happens - we don't just want to sell or hire out a dress, we want to supply THE dress!
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