By LAURI GROSS
Once upon a time, a girl and her mother burst into a dress shop in panic-mode. The ladies had purchased a prom dress online thinking they were getting an incredible deal on a designer gown, but instead they received a hideous, ill-fitting knock-off.
Lisa Barefield, marketing director at Henri’s Cloud Nine in Minerva told this true story about her own customers. “By some stroke of luck, we actually had the real, authentic Sherri Hill dress, that she thought she was getting (online), in stock in the size and color she wanted, and she was so happy when she took it home. We couldn’t believe how awful the knock-off dress looked compared to the real thing! That was a feel-good moment for us, and definitely a relief for that customer and her mom.”
It’s all part of what Lisa describes as the The Henri’s Experience: The store’s promise to help each customer find what they love. “All our stylists are trained to work one-on-one with girls and their guest to determine the style, color, and school restrictions, if that is an issue. And then there are accessories. We sell shoes too, and jewelry.”
Kathleen Renner, manager of Ino’s Fashions in Akron agrees that in-person shopping is a must for prom dresses. “Do not go by pictures on the Internet when shopping for a dress,” she said. “One needs to try on a dress. The fit is different with each style. Color and fit are very important.”
Frank Simoni, president of all 17 Commodore Tuxedo locations in Northeast Ohio and also in Canton and Findlay, encourages prom-goers to order early. All of Frank’s stores rent and sell tuxedos, and four of Frank’s shops also sell dresses. To those needing a tux, he said, “If you know you are going to prom, get measured, order something and then decide on the color later. If you wait until a week or 10 days before prom, we might run out.” There are experts on hand in all American Commodore shops to measure and fit each shopper and help them choose the best style. “The skinny fit is really popular and I have a lot of these, with narrow pants, tight-fitting coats and slim shirts,” said Frank. To complete the look, American Commodore also offers shoes.
“Black tuxes are still very popular, but that has taken second fiddle to grey,” said Frank. “Grey has been upcoming in the last few years and navy is also very popular in tuxes. We carry shades like cobalt and dark navy too, which is very popular.” Frank explained that some guys wear a vest and tie that matches the girl’s dress but “instead of all that color,” Frank said, “It’s also popular to wear a navy tux and navy vest with a colorful tie and hanky.”
Kathleen of Ino’s said many of her prom dress shoppers are looking for beaded high-neck long dresses with open backs, or dresses with beaded tops and a jersey or chiffon skirt. “Mikado fabric is also popular this year,” said Kathleen. Mikado is a heavier blend of silks, perfect for dresses with a solid-color mermaid-style bottom. Bold Mikado prints are also popular, Kathleen explained. “We offer a free gift with the purchase of a prom dress,” she said. “Girls have a choice of free shoes, purse, or earrings with their dress purchase, up to a $50 value.” Ino’s registers all prom dresses noting school, style, and color, to help ensure a girl’s dress is a one-of-a-kind at her prom.
Lisa at Henri’s said, “We are seeing ball gowns come back, and two-piece dresses. For Midwestern girls, it depends on their school and what they allow and what their tastes are. We sell very trendy and red-carpet styles, and those with a more traditional ball gown silhouette or A-line. Also, floral prints and bright colors are trendy.”
The Winner in Sharon, Pennsylvania, which features two full floors of gowns, is known as “Gown Town.” The store offers discounted prices on many designer dresses. Amanda Cowan, general manager said, “We try and have something for everyone,” and added that floral prints and two-piece dresses are still a hot trend. “We are starting to see ‘hi-lo’ dresses make a comeback,” she said, referring to a long dress with a skirt that is cut shorter in the front. The Winner also has plenty of ball gowns, fitted dresses, beaded gowns, dresses in bright colors and some in lace, all popular this year.
So, leave the stress and panic at home and let these experts help make shopping for a prom dress or tux as fun and memorable as the event itself.
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Area florists share creative ideas for today’s prom corsages, boutonnieres
By LAURI GROSS
Sweet and sentimental prom flowers make a big impact with a tiny statement and classic looks are still popular. Louise Reiling, owner of Auburn Pointe Greenhouse, in Auburn, said, “Wrist corsages with roses are still the most requested prom flower.”
Local florists have many other suggestions as well. Denise Monsman, one of the florists at Lowes’ Greenhouse in Bainbridge said, “We are doing some hand carries: very small bouquets. These look nice in pictures and then can be set aside or pinned to the purse. When dancing, (wrist) corsages can be awkward to wear. In some places around the country, girls are wearing floral crowns (to prom).”
The floral department at Breezewood Gardens and Gifts in Bainbridge creates many boutonnieres with a single rose or orchid, or a large flower like a gerbera daisy or cymbidium orchid. Their customers also love the contemporary and fun style of a boutonniere with a wire backing. These are magnetic and require no pins. Many of Breezewood’s corsages feature rhinestones, wires and beautiful keepsake bracelets.
James Miklus of Miklus Florists in Mayfield Heights added, “Slap wrist bands with dendrobium orchids are the craze, in blue, pink, white or green. Also, we see that beads, and not bows, are popular.”
To ensure each teen’s flowers are unlike anyone else’s, Denise suggested using “unique greens to give an individual, custom look, especially in boutonnieres. Also trending now are berries and small fruits.”
James Miklus agreed, as he said, “We encourage students to bring in any charms or special add-ons to enhance their once-in-a-lifetime corsage.”
Louise added, “We use many different types of flowers as accents which make each corsage one-of-a-kind. Adding bling for a bit of sparkle is very popular.” And, to help ensure the flowers of your dreams, she added, “It is great to see a photo or piece of fabric from the dress so we can match it to the ribbon and accent flowers.”