It's Prom Time! My Top Ten Rules for Prom Shopping!

Well, it's that time of year again...not Spring time...but PROM TIME! That time of year when, regardless of all that faces humanity...we hit the stores looking for that perfect prom gown! I have had years of experience not only wearing gowns but helping others create the look they want for that perfect evening or stage presence.  For me, I am in gowns more than the average person. I know what I like on my body for different events and I've learned the ins and outs of my shape. While it would be ideal for all of us to be happy with our body shapes all of the time...let's face it ladies, that's pretty unrealistic. We are a pretty emotionally charged gender when it comes to the look and feel of who we are naturally.  Soooo, I want to offer some advice to those who are out there pounding the pavement, raking the racks and diving into diva mode trying to find that perfect dress!  Here we go!

RULE #1: Try on every different colors and styles...regardless of what preconceived notion you have of what you think you wanted in a dress. It is almost a known fact that when you state you don't want a particular style...that is the style you will undoubtedly pick.  It's true, ladies.  I have experienced this more times than I can count.  A young lady comes in stating what she doesn't want but I've put her in a few of that style anyway just to confirm her thoughts and...PRESTO MAGIC...she falls in love with that style.  EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. Don't be a style hater...try it all on just to be sure:>)

RULE #2: Be prepared!  If you are going to try on dresses...bring the goods you may be wearing with that dress...aka, like your shoes and preferably the height you are probably going to be wearing. Also, either wear undergarments that are nice and smooth or bring your spanx.  There's nothing worse than trying on that dream gown and seeing lots of ripples staring back at you in the mirror! No matter what size you are...ANY visible lines can ruin a look and your mood. Also, doll yourself up a bit when you go to try on those dresses. You don't have to look ready for prom but it helps if you don't look like you just came from softball practice, either.

RULE #3: "No, Virginia, you shouldn't be trying on your gown with your sports bra and leggings still on your body."  I hate to say it but, as a mom, we have all been there as we watched our daughters try on gowns still wearing their sports bras and leggings.  A dress will not look the way you want it to look until you wear it the way it was meant to be worn.  

RULE #4: Take a couple of friends with you to help out.  Having additional hands with you is a must if you think you will be trying on lots of dresses.  Also, don't forget that there will be a ton of other young ladies also looking for dresses so saving time by having your own "personal shoppers" with you.  Have someone you trust help you in and out of the gowns while someone else can help take out deleted styles or get new sizes for you.  

RULE #5: PLEASE REHANG YOUR GOWNS AND ZIP THEM UP! I am amazed at the amount of people who leave a dressing room looking like a hot mess.  My mother taught me very early on to be respectful of retailers clothes and also of the staff.  

RULE #6: Do not use a store to just try on a gown for size and then order it off the internet or expect them to order you one from the manufacturer if the one you want is there on the rack.  Seriously speaking...those bricks and mortar stores have paid for those dresses you are trying on and they need to sell them, that's their business. If they have to special order the same dress in a size they already have you are eating into their bottom line and we need to support those small businesses:>) It's different if there is something wrong with the dress...then most stores will offer to order you one from the manufacturer.  Also, the current virus going around has affected some of the manufacturer's ability to get special orders done for prom. Almost 90% of all the world's evening wear is made overseas...that industry is a very labor intensive industry with very detailed skills for sewing.  I am a designer by education and trade...making a gown is not easy...especially the quality of gown you want to purchase at a store.  

RULE #7: DO NOT be emotionally tied to the size on the gown or dress.  This rule actually applies to all women's clothing.  As a designer, the factories actually let the designer choose the measurements they want for their sizing chart.  It's totally different for mens clothing which literally goes by measurements.  EVERY designer is different and even within the same designers collection there can be variations. The point is...choose the dress that fits you the best, no matter what the size says.  I have gowns in my closet ranging from size 0 - joke... that's the reality of different styles, different fabrics, different factories, different countries, different designers.  It's one of the toughest on us emotionally as women when we get stuck in a dressing room looking at ourselves in unflattering mirrors and lights..then we're told we may have to go up a size or two in a gown we loved. Ugh, pure drama moment waiting to happen! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL...DO NOT BE DEFINED BY THE SIZE ON THE TAG!!!

RULE #8: The right accessories are icing on the cake!  Don't forget about the right bling for your look!  There are so many great styles out there today and most stores will have great accessories in mind or in stock right there!  One of my favorite places is Miss Priss in Lexington, KY.  Elizabeth carries great gowns and great accessories to make it a one stop shopping experience.  

RULE #9: Make-up!  It's you special night so don't wait till the last moment to try and figure out what look you want to create.  Do a few practice sessions...even if your getting the final look done's always good to have some thoughts of what you might want before the big night.

RULE #10: PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!  If you have purchased a great pair of show stopping shoes for the special occasion...practice walking in them...ALOT! Don't wait until the night of the event to put the shoes on for the first time.  It's always painful for me to see ladies of all ages trying to walk in a pair of heels they're not used to...if they're even used to wearing heels at all!  I always tell my clients..."You should be able to vacuum in those heels!"  While I don't advocate acting like June Cleaver and cleaning the house in 3 inch heels, I do advocate for breaking them in nicely and you can do that at home:>) The right heel should feel and look like an extension of your leg. For me personally, I have a few pair of neutral glitzy heels that match every gown in my gown closet...they are broken in nicely. I emcee events year round and spend hours standing in gowns and heels...I want to be as comfortable as possible. top ten rules for dress shopping!  While there are many more tips I could offer, these should do for now!  Good luck out's a wild ride!