Avoiding prom dress pitfalls

Tips on avoiding prom dress mistakes

By Tony Statz - Producer

METRO DETROIT - Prom season creates a fashion frenzy for teenagers when it comes to searching for the perfect dress.

No one wants the fashion police to come knocking on their door!

"A lot of times, I'll see something, I'll be like oh my gosh this is amazing, and then, someone's like 'Are you sure?'" said Sophia Koolwick, a prom-bound sophomore at Marian High School.

Teenagers go even further, telling Ruth to the Rescue the big dance is practically an afterthought these days, it's all about the fashion!

"I'm so excited for the dresses, honestly, just to see what everyone's wearing," said Erika Smith, a senior at Eisenhower High School.

"Everyone loves to get dressed up sometimes ... that's what I'm excited about getting dressed up, getting your hair done, your makeup done, taking pictures," commented Hannah Sparks, a senior at Seaholm High School in Birmingham.

With fashion more important than ever, the pressure is on to find the perfect dress. Now, the risks run the gamut from the dreaded fashion faux pas to online scammers looking to steal your money!

Expert Style Advice

When it comes to avoiding a fashion faux pas, Local 4 Style Editor Jon Jordan has a rule that works for prom dresses and any fashion choice.

"The biggest mistake is to be a slave to the trend. Something may be hot on the red carpet, or hot on the runway, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to look hot on you," Jordan told Ruth to the Rescue.

Jon's other advice on how to be a savvy fashionista:

*Buy something that fits and flatters YOUR figure.
*Be prepared to try on a lot of dresses to see what works.
*Bring someone you trust with you for a valuable second opinion
*Trust your instincts when you look in the mirror.

"I think you try it once and it either feels right, fits right, and you look really wonderful in it, and you feel it immediately or its a goner," said Jordan.

He also says don't go overboard and over the top. That advice struck a chord with our prom goers.

"They want people to look at them and they want attention, but it's not the right attention, like she looks great, its she looks like she's trying too hard," said Sophia Koolwick, sophomore at Marian High School.

Avoiding Online Scams

Shopping online has opened the door for one of the worst prom dress disasters. The Today Show recently reported on scam websites that promise deep discounts, but the knockoff dress that's delivered is unwearable and the money you paid is gone.

It's one more reason the girls we spoke with approach online shopping, for such an important occasion, with extreme caution.

"If I ever were to buy a dress online, then I would get it weeks ahead, so I'd able to return and buy another one," said Sparks.

To avoid online scammers The Better Business Bureau says you should start by comparing prices very carefully. That makes it easier to spot an offer that's too good to be true. Try to call website's customer service, and if you can't reach someone that's generally a big red flag.

You can also check with the designer to see if the website is really a licensed dealer.

Whether you shop online or at the mall remember, most prom dress sales are final. You should know the retailers return policy.

"They don't want one dress traveling around to 6 different proms," said Jordan.

Shop In Your Friends' Closets

The Better Business Bureau says survey showed the average prom dress cost about $300 in 2012. With prices getting so high, many families look for ways to cut costs. The teenagers we spoke with said the first place they might shop is their friends' closets.

Since the dresses are so expensive and usually only worn once, why not see if one of your friends have something you could buy at a discount or borrow.

Erika Smith is headed to her senior prom, and she'll wear a dress that belongs to a friend.

"I absolutely was in love with my friend's dress from last year, so I went and tried it on ... and it worked," she said.

Jordan also says you don't have to spend top dollar to look like a celebrity. "Stars in Hollywood are literally showing up in cute dresses they're finding at places like H&M, or TopShop, and there are dresses from Forever 21 for under $30."

As for what styles are hot this year, Jordan says girls have a lot of options.

"White is really big this year, the little black dress is always in style, bold floral prints, which can be very figure flattering, and kind of fun."


Finally, have a sense of humor, if you run into one of those awkward moments on prom night.

"If you have the same dress as someone else, who cares, take a picture, you know what I mean," said Erika Smith, senior at Eisenhower High School.

If you have any questions about a business, check its reputation with the Better Business Bureau.

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