After 20+ years designing and producing prom attire, I can safely say, I’ve seen it all. As emotions run high during this time, there are certain steps that prom divas, dons and parents can take to soften the emotional blow that this time of the year can bring…..
Prom is rapidly becoming big business. According to USA Today, in 2013, U.S. consumers spent, on average, 1,139 U.S. dollars on prom, followed by an average of $978 in 2014.
The biggest expense associated with the big day is prom attire. Media has a large influence on the need to create that over the top experience, just for that one picture on social media. Long gone are the days of the not so great prom look remaining private. With one click, share or otherwise, the good, the bad and the ugly can be seeing by hundreds, even thousands in minutes.
Prom attire, for young women and men has changed over the years. The dress made by Aunt Betsy complete with shoes dyed to match has become the Hollywood inspired gowns complete with ‘red bottoms’. Some young men are trading in the rented tux and shoes for custom made suits and jackets, sparing no expense on designer footwear and accessories including belts and watches.
For designers, prom season is similar to the Super Bowl. Soon, many will flock to their favorite designer to make their prom vision come to life. Prom season is a highly emotional time for both clients and designers. Before we know it, we often find ourselves wearing several hats – designer, style consultant, counselor, referee and more. There is a type of bond developed during this time with designers and their clients as you spend many months (hopefully) between fittings, phone calls, texts, etc. Like it or not, we adopt these clients and many times, their parents for these few months. Prom season is an exercise in patience and understanding, all with the best customer service skills rolled into one. The endless hours and dedication to each client makes the smiles on the big day all worthwhile. As a designer, that’s our biggest compliment and it’s priceless.
So, as you weigh your options for prom attire, will you go retail? Custom? Shop online? Here are a few things to consider to help you decide if going custom is the right move…
This is the most important and key factor when deciding on your prom attire. For both women and men. Somewhere along the way, there an assumption has been made that custom worker is CHEAPER (faints). This, by far, is the biggest misconception about custom work. Based on the designer, their experience and education, a custom dress can be costly. As you walk into a designers studio, be mindful that this is not Aunt Betty sewing on the weekends in between work as a hobby. Many designers have years of experience behind them and the fact that you considered them initially reflects their business reputation and craftsmanship. Release all thoughts you have of home sewing when you approach a designer for prom or any other custom apparel. Be open to the fact you are paying for the designers experience, in addition to maintaining the integrity and original design of your clothes. This can take extra time and attention but it is well worth the price.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS:
Again, this goes back to price. If you are hiring a designer to get a ‘knock off’ of a high end, celebrity style gown at a cheaper price, back away now. Take extra caution if you find someone willing to make a $1,200 dress for $300. Run. Fast. I can’t tell you the number of clients that I face, dress in hand, usually in tears because they hired someone who said they could do the same dress they saw on Beyonce or Rihanna for $200.
IT’S ALL ABOUT ME
Doing my consultations with clients, I often ask clients why they are considering a custom design for prom. The #1 answer is: “I want something unique, that no one else will have.”
There may be a few ideas pulled from photos for inspiration, but, if there are certain details that are a must have for your look, custom is an option for you.
If you are usually hard to fit, ie tall, plus size, etc., prom apparel is no exception. Although buying off the rack for speciality sizes has progressed significantly over the years, as in most off the rack prom attire, alterations will be needed, adding to the overall price (there’s that word again) of the dress. Alterations are costly. Period. Unfortunately, buying off the rack initially seems like a great bargain and idea, until the alterations kick in. More often than not, for speciality sizes, the actual dress plus alterations, can sometimes surpass the cost of actually having the dress made custom.
NOTE: Speciality sizes should STAY AWAY from buying prom attire, or any special occasion attire online. Although measurements my line up, there are other factors that may effect the look of the dress. If you decide to purchase online, check the return and/or exchange policy.
There is a certain amount of trust that is established between a designer and their client. Once you make the decision to go custom, you have to trust the process. Although there will be (should be) fittings, you have to feel comfortable with ‘not seeing’ the dress until its done. This is custom work, once the design is complete, you cannot return the it. Hence, a little vetting before selecting a designer is very important!
Custom or retail? The choice is yours. Whether you choose Dru Christine or any designer for your special occasion needs, I hope these few tips makes your custom experience memorable – in the best, most fashionable way possible!
It’s that time,
Dru Christine Fabrics & Design services various special occasion needs from custom special occasion apparel, fabrics, custom accessories for men and women as well as special occasion alterations. Please visit: http://druchristine.com/prom__15_by_dc or call 1.440.941.0052 to take your prom journey to the next step with a professional consultation. See you soon.