Orth Cleaners | Find the Perfect Prom Dress Online Without Losing the Mall Memories


Find the Perfect Prom Dress Online Without Losing the Mall Memories
By Sarah Ulicny
Thoughts on Prom Dresses

Late last century, when I was in the market for a prom dress, I headed to the mall with a small group of girlfriends. We were determined little machines rifling through racks of velvet, satin and chiffon, forgoing sweet pinks in favor of sophisticated blacks. It was a full-day's work and we stopped only for lunch at Panda Express. There, in the metal chairs and sticky food court tables, we talked about how we would do our hair and what we liked best about our dates. Even as someone who isn't such a "girly-girl," I remember that day as the quintessential girl-bonding experience of my teenage life.

Prom season is upon us once again. But, it's a very different world from my era. Social media and smart phones are omnipresent. You can find and buy your dress in a couple clicks without your forearm going numb under the weight of your prospective dresses.

But, will this make for a warm girlhood memory?

At the same time, you don't need to trek to the mall, endure dress-arm and get orange sauce all over your shirt.

Perhaps, used wisely, today's technology can both help you both snag the perfect dress and still help you share a memory with your friends.

How To Do It:

If you put all the prom dresses posted on social media onto one website, you'd never be done scrolling. On the surface, this seems like a good thing. But, does having too many choices stress us out?

My advice: perhaps focus your search to one network. Pinterest has my vote. It's a great place to find inspiration. Search "Prom dresses under 100 dollars" and you'll find hundreds of results broken down into dozens of categories. Here are some tips for using the site to make dress shopping, fun, efficient and social:

  • In keeping with the idea that too many choices can be overwhelming, pick a manageable number before you start your search, say 15 to 20 dresses.
  • Once you find a dress you like, investigate it before you pin it. Double-clicking on the image will take you directly to its original website. If there are reviews, read a handful. They'll not only tell you about the quality of the dress but also if the sizes tends to run big or small (read a good handful to get a cross-section).
  • Once you've pinned your top 15, write down the designers' names, the style codes and print a picture of each dress.
  • Now it's time to get offline. Go to a local boutique or a mall and the sales clerk should be able to find the dress or something very similar (and maybe even better).
  • If you are committed to buying the dress online, be sure to check the return policy and shipping costs.

The Bonding Part:

Board-swap! Let your friends focus on you while you focus on them. Design different Pinterest boards for each friend. We're often less critical and more inspired when doing things for others as opposed to for ourselves. Count on your friends to find the dress you didn't know you needed.

If you need mom's approval, once you make a board of your favorites have her take a look and make a mom-approved board from your choices. Remember, this should be an event not an ordeal. Get some snacks, grab some sodas, sit down together and share opinions.

Once you have your choices narrowed down and know where to find the dresses, it's time for the legwork. If you have to shop on your own, a good app to have is Snapchat. Take selfies while wearing your cutest styles and share the "snaps" with your friends. Snapchat treats your photograph more like speech. You send the photo and in one to ten seconds it vanishes. It forces your friends to respond immediately, just like in conversation (and unlike texts, which can languish for hours without a response). When you're in a fitting room swamped with dresses, you'll love the instant response. Another added benefit is that you can draw on the photographs. This could come in handy if you have questions on specific details of the dress.

For a more social experience, plan a Snapchat date. If you live a significant distance from your friends, set up a time to shop and support each other virtually as you search through your respective local shops.

However you end up finding your dress there's one easy guarantee: You will all be complete and total knockouts. When I look at my prom photos, I'm bowled over by how beautiful I looked. (Though, at the time I didn't feel beautiful.)

I'm telling you this in the hopes that when you're on that dancefloor, with or without a date, you'll feel as unstoppably beautiful as you actually are.

Sarah Ulicny is a university instructor and freelance writer.

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