Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Prom Night Shouldn’t Be a Horror

Left: But those dresses are SCARY. More Prom-y goodness from the 80’s! Yup, that's me, all dressed up for my Junior (no sunglasses) and Senior (Ray Bans) Proms.

Tip Of The Day: How to score a Prom dress for less. So you’ll have enough money left over to send your daughter to college.

Tip For Tomorrow: Let it all out. It’s bad to bottle up your feelings, so tomorrow is Group Therapy Wednesday. We’ll vent about all the things we wished we had said, but good manners made us bite our tongues instead.

Further Elucidation Of My Cheap Deal: Today on Fox 9 News at 5, I’m talking (or did talk, depending on when you read this post) about how to save money on your Prom dress. Or, and let’s be honest, your daughter’s Prom dress. Because chances are, you’re buying it for her. Or THEM.

My friend Pam has TWIN DAUGHTERS, and she just showed me the bill for her kids’ dresses. It was for over 500 HUNDRED DOLLARS. AND SHE THOUGHT SHE’D GOT A GOOD DEAL. OH MY GOD, I CAN’T STOP YELLING.

I’m sorry, you may think differently, but I do not feel it is ever appropriate to spend more than $100 on a dress you’ll only wear one time – unless it’s your wedding dress. And even then, it’s kind of horrifying how much women will pay. I know, I know, I’m not married, nor do I have girl children, so what the heck do I know?

Aha! I do know something! I know how you can save money on a Prom dress! Take THAT.

As I mentioned on the news, think outside the Mall. Try shopping at an outlet or discount store, like Opitz Outlet in Minneapolis. They have designer dresses for 70% off retail – and I mean, REAL DESIGNERS, like Michael Kors and Vera Wang.

You can also skibble down the street to the Opitz Annex. Starting tomorrow (Wednesday), everything at the Annex – including Prom dresses – is only $3 an item.

Please note, the clothes at the Annex are “distressed.” Which means they might have a tear or stain, or need a seam closed or a zipper replaced. But for $3 a dress, you could have a seamstress remake the entire thing and still come out ahead.

Next tip – look for gently worn dresses at a consignment store in your area. I love Nu Look in Minneapolis and Elite Repeat in St. Paul. When your child is done with her Prom dress, you can consign it back. With the money you make, you can either off-set part of the Prom bills… or take yourself out for a strong drink or two.

My last on-air tip is (or was, whatever) to shop online. Craigslist.org has a TON of Prom dresses for sale, and if you find one in your area, you can go to the seller’s house and have your kid try it on before you fork over the dough. Just bring some Mace along… for safety’s sake.

You’ll also find dresses on eBay.com. However, before you make an offer, get the measurements of the dress, like bust and waist. Do NOT rely on the dress size listed – dress sizing for formalwear is notoriously random and nonsensical. Also? Go up a size – it’s easier to have a dress taken in than let out.

Now for the tips that didn’t make it on air. Because I ran out of time, not because they are less than fabulous. Trust me.

If you are handy with a sewing machine, remake a dress. You can find old Prom and bridesmaid dresses for a buck at Saver’s on Mondays. Pull an Andie from Pretty In Pink and combine two icky dresses into one fabulous creation that will stun the popular kids and win the heart of Andrew McCarthy.

If you’re REALLY handy with that machine, make the entire dress from scratch. You can find cool patterns on eBay.com, or visit Jo-Ann Fabric in Edina. Ten bucks says you’ll run into Larue there. She’s a regular.

For those of you who lack sewing skills (like me), you’ll love this Last Tip.

If your child has a bunch of friends the same size as her, perhaps she’d be open to the idea of borrowing a friend’s dress. For example, if she has a buddy who went to Prom last year, see if she can borrow that girl’s dress for this year. Trust me, no one will remember the dress from the year before.

I borrowed both my Junior and Senior Prom dresses – Thanks Lou! Thanks Leslie! – at my Ma’s urging.

How did Ma convince me? To borrow a dress, instead of buying one for the big night? Simple. She said, “Cheap Chicklette (not my real name), I’m not buying you a Prom dress. If you want one, you’ll have to buy it yourself.” ‘Nuf said. But I did spring for new shoes. Of course.

Where To Shop:
1. Opitz Outlet and Annex, http://www.opitzoutlet.com/
2. Nu Look Consignment, http://www.nulookconsignment.com/
6. Jo-Ann Fabric, http://www.joann.com/


LaRue said...

I seriously thought those were 2 different hairdos in those photos.
I got a Vera Wang dress at Opitz for $10.00. It is currently on consignment at NuLook. I always bought my dresses right after New Year's - they are always marked down then.

As for making them? That can be really fun, very personalized, and cheap. I saw a dress made entirely out of shredded t-shirts and it was fabulous. And you may find me in Joanns, but I will NOT be making prom dresses this year. And homecoming dresses are 1-2 years away.

Which suddenly makes me feel old. I may have to go listen to some Wham! now.

Oh! If the rat bastard you invite to prom says he is staying home, and then you crash the prom with some girlfriends only to discover he went to the prom with a total skank? Feel justified in eating that chocolate and throwing something in his face. Not that I would do that, of course.

LaRue said...

I can't believe I forgot this. $500???? For 2 dresses???
My thrifty soul feels violated.

sozzled said...

someday in my spare time I"ll scan photos of my prom, i was tanning bed orange. the 80s were a bad decade for prom. Oh and I wore the same dress both years only my mom remade it, so one year it was strapless and full length (WITH a HOOP under it, omg, what was I thinking?) and then next a ruffle over one shoulder and tea length, no hoop thank god.

Amy the Mom said...

I purchased my senior prom dress at a garage sale for $3. It had a stain on the front that came out with drycleaning-back in the '80s it only cost $10. I subsequently wore it to a fraternity formal the next year. It was a fabulous dress, and always got tons of compliments because it was so glamourous.

I bought my (first) wedding dress off the rack for $125, and it was a perfect fit that needed no alterations.

I have also made prom dresses for my sisters, but I've got to say-it's cheaper to find a gently worn one.

Erika said...

The pink puffiness! I think we probably went to high school around the same time. The dress styles and the hair (Oh! The Hair!) look much like mine.

I had a purple pleated-bodice number, with ... AN ASYMMETRICAL HEM! Because, I was all daring and shizzle.

Fern Marie said...

This helps out so much. My family is on a really tight budget, and I will definitely be checking out Opitz. And my grandma is a master with the sewing machine. So maybe if I find something thats really nice at the Opitz Annex but needs a little fixing, she can help me with it. This just made my day.

Anonymous said...

I miss the big hair.

That is all.

El Jefe

Anonymous said...

may i recommend a web site that has more economical dresses


they don't necessarily fall under $20 - but definately under $500.

love your site

Michelle said...

Love the prom pictures! :) JC Penney's is another great place to find a deal on a prom dress. You have to plan ahead, but they always have formal dresses on clearance. Although, I've noticed it's better to go on the off season. Insanely good deals abound.

mia said...

I remember my prom shoes. They were these clunky satin 1990s Steve Madden platform shoes which weighed about 10 pounds. Each.

It's a good thing I wore a very long dress that completely covered my feet--because those shoes made them look huge.

mia said...

Definitely check out resale shops and consignment shops near college campuses. As the school year nears an end, students are cleaning out their closets and some girls will be selling their dresses from college formals. There's a resale shop near the big university in my area that has some very nice long formal dresses right now.