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Find the perfect Prom dress!
(or any special occasion dress)

You are anxious and stressed. And, you are feeling just a little dizzy from all the bright colors swirling around you.

Yes, it's that time of year ... the dreaded dress shopping season ... homecoming, spring formals and the granddaddy of them all ... PROM! These shopping experiences may lead to tears or laughter ... you just never know. So be prepared. You know that the dress won't make or break her evening, but don't tell her that.

So mom, take a deep breath, get out your credit card and take a little advice from a mom who has done this at least 20 times.

  1. Don't wait until the last minute. If you do, you will have tears. You will need a couple of shopping trips and several stores. This I promise.
  2. Tell her to be open-minded. She may not be able to find that dress she saw in the magazine, or the one she likes may not look like she pictured on her body type. She needs to try on several dresses to find one that is right for her. And, remember, most stores will hold dresses for 24 hours. You can come back if you want to keep shopping.
  3. Take pictures. Let her show her friends. She will get lots of positive reinforcement. That only helps you.
  4. Set a budget. If you don't, you might be sorry. You might have different budgets for different events. I spent more on prom. It's up to mom.
  5. Work with her skin tone. There's plenty of information on the Internet on what colors look good with what skin tone.
  6. No satin. Shiny fabrics reflect light and make the body look fuller.
  7. Bring the right undergarments and shoes for fittings. You want to make sure everything fits right and the dress is the right length. Wear everything you are going to wear with the dress.
  8. Hairstyle and accessories. Think about how she will wear her hair with the dress and what accessories might accentuate, rather that overshadow, the dress.
  9. Make an appointment. If you want special attention at that local dress shop, it will help to have an appointment.
  10. Have fun! Try on a dress or two, then go to another shop. Have lunch. Make it a fun, non-stressful mother-daughter outing. No friends on this trip. It's better to go with just the two of you so there's no pressure to spend more (or less), go somewhere your daughter doesn't want to go, or end the shopping trip before she's ready. This is about her. Make it her day.

Written by Kelly, who has a daughter, and who has bought many dresses.

February 2012