"Even if it doesn't look good on the hanger and I don't think it will look good, I still try it on," said the Sikeston High School junior while shopping for her May 7 prom.
Her mom, Pat Hawkins, agreed. "It looks so different on the hanger and on the body," she said. "You try on every dress you like in the store before you finally find the one."
This is a good strategy, according to Patti Goins, sales consultant at Joy's Bridal Shop, who encourages girls to be open minded and try on everything while shopping for prom dresses. "For the most part, when girls are open minded, they find a perfect dress they never would have picked otherwise."
What is most important is having a dress that stands out, agreed Hawkins and 18-year-old Lauren Mehner, a senior at Notre Dame High School.
Mehner added that a dress for her April 30 prom must be comfortable. "It's got to be something I can move and walk in," she said.
Luckily for the girls, it seems that anything goes for this year's prom, from the dress styles to the colors, so finding a stylish dress that fits their desires shouldn't be too much of a problem.
While several styles are popular, ball gowns, with their thick and full skirts, seem to be the most sought-after this year, according to Peggy Barks, owner of Bunny Patch in Dexter and Glenda Bridges, owner of Glenda's Bridal and Tuxedo Shop. "I've done ball gowns for several years, but this year they are really popular," Barks commented.
In addition to ball gowns, straight, beaded, strapless and plain styles have also been sought-after at Joy's. Dresses with a high slit on the side that ruffles down and dresses with shirring (gatherings) which can accentuate a girl's figure are other hot items.
For color, anything from bright, vivid colors to pastels to the simple-but-
elegant black and white dresses are all popular this year. Bright shades of pink, yellow and orange are in demand, with names such as daffodil, orange crush and sherbet. "The colors are just really beautiful," Bridges said.
To find the perfect prom dress, a majority of girls start hitting the stores in January. But some begin even earlier. Bunny Patch sold its first prom dress in September, Barks reported. And Joy's sold some dresses as soon as their spring shipments arrived in late November and early December.
"Some of those dresses were out the door so fast that I don't remember them," Goins said.
An added bonus for shopping early, in addition to having the stress of finding a prom dress behind them, is that girls can snatch a particular dress before their classmates.
Since shops realize that it is almost every girl's nightmare that someone else will show up in an identical dress on prom night, they keep records of who bought each dress and the school she attends. "But we have no control over what other stores sell," Bridges added.
Girls also want their hairstyle to be unique, according to Mehner. "I think simple is better," she said, adding that it is obviously not as important as the dress, but needs to be able to stay up all night.
While some girls search for comfortable shoes, others don't care about comfort and want something pretty. "I figure it's only for like three or four hours, so if they hurt a little, it's OK," Hawkins said.
This years hot shoe style, available at all three shops, includes different colors of ribbons that lace around the legs, which are popular with all dress styles, but especially those with a high slit, Barks said. Clear shoes also remain popular, but with a new twist this year -- heels that light up.
Jewelry is another must have for prom, the girls said. "Jewelry depends on the dress," Goins said. While necklaces are worn according to the dress style, earrings are almost always worn, with chandelier earrings being the most popular this prom season, Bridges and Goins agreed.
Other prom essentials include purses, a perfect tan, make-up, nails, flowers, dinner and even transportation, Hawkins and Mehner said.
All in all, prom can be very expensive. "We definitely splurge," Mehner said, adding that since the spending is spread out, teens sometimes don't realize how much they're spending.
But all of the time and money invested in prom is well worth it, Hawkins and her mom agreed. "It's the big thing of the year," Pat Hawkins said, while her daughter added: "it only comes once a year."