So, when my friend Stacy asked if I might consider taking her 16-year-old daughter shopping for a dress, it was my chance to live the experience of finding the perfect princess gown. Not that I was going to hijack Alexandria’s style–I’ve known this girl since she was a toddler and she’s always known what she wants. In fact, what she wanted was right in line with the season’s top trends, from color to cut to details like asymmetrical sleeves and Marchesa-like draping and floral-y appliques.
I started with a little reconnaissance at Bloomingdale’s where I happened to be one day for an event. While some of the prom dresses on display looked ready for the Miss America stage, most of them reminded me of what I had just seen on the red carpet of the Oscars and Golden Globes. Layered chiffon, satin and jersey in happy spring hues of coral, yellow, jade, fuchsia, blush, violet. A good deal of black, too, which I personally don’t think is very festive for prom. Parents who insist on sleeves better budget in a cardigan or shawl: nearly every dress is strapless or sleeveless.
Alex had a $200 budget and the dresses were in the $225-$250 range. I reasoned that with an upcoming sale of 20 to 25 percent off, I could justify the current price.
On a Saturday afternoon, the two of us headed to Valley Fair and Santana Row. Alex already knew she wanted a long dress. We thought H&M, which just unveiled the Marni collection, might have a fashion-forward gown to consider. The store, though, only had short party dresses. The BCBG boutique had two gowns that were considered, although budget busters in the $350 range. One, a berry-colored jersey number, had a cascade of 3-D blooms on its one-sleeve shoulder.
Alex had tried on a gown at Jessica McClintock which she had deemed almost perfect. One-shouldered satin, ruched with a low back that was crisscrossed with wide straps.
But in the week or so since she tried it on, the store had unveiled more styles. She slipped into a dressing room to try on her top picks. Nothing too revealing, nothing too cumbersome to navigate and, she insisted, nothing that would make her outshine the seniors. Such a thoughtful junior, but she could pretty much wear a potato sack and still dazzle.
In the end, she chose the ruby version of the dress below.Back at home, she modeled the gown under the bright lights of the master bathroom for her protective dad, who had final say. Her mom and I sat nervously outside, hoping it would meet his approval. No one said a word for what seemed like a very long time.
Then we heard him: “Ok. You can wear that.”
Category: Fresh Style