Monday, March 10, 2008


This year's prom season is full of color, sparkle and shine.

And there are many ways to look great for the year's biggest social and fashion event without going broke in the process.

The dress is the centerpiece of all prom fashion planning. Many girls begin scoping out possibilities as early as January, and how their dates attire themselves depends in large part upon the dress decision.

Girls want to make one key statement when they arrive at prom, "Look at me -- I'm fabulous!" This season, there are many more ways for girls to look fab than at any time in recent years. The options are staggering, with tens of thousands of red-carpet-inspired styles available in stores and online.

Short cocktail-style dresses are chic alternatives to long gowns. Many dresses feature creative side cutouts or daring bare backs while silhouettes range from curve-caressing and bias cut to pouffy skirts and mermaid bottoms.

Black-and-white combinations are surprisingly dramatic, the shine of jewels and metallic hues lend goddess glamour, dark jewel tones evoke rich elegance and bold colors rule in attention-grabbing shades of turquoise, chartreuse, buttercup and fuchsia.

Prints are all over the place: animal, reptile, abstract, floral and especially polka dots.

"Polka dots are very big," observed Ellen Calig, manager of Lintons at The Waterfront. "Girls are lovin' the dots. Glitz is still in, vintage is still in, and color, color, color."

For girls and parents who can't afford to or don't want to shell out a lot of cash for a gown and accessories, it's not hard to find great looks for less. Many dresses are less than $100 at department stores such as Kohl's and JCPenney and at Internet sites such as, and eDressMe. com -- three of the few that list prices without forcing you to contact a store for that information.

Don't forget about bargains at consignment shops and discount retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory, Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

And there are some contests that give away free gowns. has been awarding a free dress every week since Dec. 25 and will do so until April 22.

Guys can save money on their looks, too.

Tux-like suits and suit-like tuxes are hot again this season. Some fellows buy a suit they like, dress it up for prom and then wear it repeatedly in the future to stretch their dollar.

Suits are an especially nice look to complement a short dress.

Most boys, however, will rent. Some stores offer a "prom special" basic look with a few options for less than $100. Add-ons can ratchet up the price.

But shop around because more stores are finding creative ways to compete for customers.


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