'Say yes to the dress'

Prom is the most magical and pivotal moment in a high school girl’s world, and one of the main components that determines this night’s success is The Dress. The Dress that makes everybody stop to stare, whether it be during the grand entrance, eating dinner or twirling the night away on the dance floor. But, to what extent—if at all—should it break the bank?

I went to three different stores that provide prom dresses, all at different price points, to determine which one was best for me. Midwestern teens spend an average of $242.94 on prom dresses, according to a survey conducted by Alexandra Mondalek.

I went to Henri’s Cloud Nine on Polaris, whose prices range from $200 to almost $9,000; Gowntastic, whose prices range from $100 to $1,000; and Lewis Center Steals and Deals, an online second-hand store with an even larger variety of costs. For each of these “stores” I will be grading the dresses out of five on price, quality and overall the princess-like sensation they give me.

Henri’s Cloud Nine had the largest variety of dresses, and it took me a matter of minutes to have an armful of dresses in my dressing room. I then found The One: Sherri Hill 51613 in green. It was made of satin and it honestly made me feel like I was about to step into a ballroom. I am a huge fan of sparkles and anything that shimmers, and in the lights, this dress gleamed like an actual star. Maybe it was the hearts in my eyes that clouded my judgment, but I almost bought this one because it was so dream-worthy.

This dress was gorgeous and extremely different. This dress was one of the cheapest I tried on at Henri’s, and it was a whopping $750. The price is a two because it was out of budget but not as expensive as other options. The quality was far above any of the others I tried on, for which I will give it a five. The princess-sensation was completely there, but it was a little too plain, so for this it gets a four.

Gowntastic was less impressive in its choices, but I found an equally impressive The One. This dress was Milano Formals E2160, and it had the exact flare I was looking for. It was very unique from the other types of dresses typically seen at prom, with a full black and floral skirt. I absolutely loved this dress, especially because it had pockets. Pockets are exceptionally rare in women’s clothing, even more so in dresses, so for this dress to have them shocked me.

This dress was exactly on par with the average cost of a prom dress at $228. Price-wise, this deems a four. If it’s possible, I was even closer to buying this dress than I was the Sherri Hill one. I truly felt unique and like I would stand out, just as a princess should. So, for this dress, I give it a five. However, around the seams there was a little bit of fraying that could be fixed, but would cost extra. So, for quality, this dress gets a three.

And finally, the dress I did not expect, from Lewis Center Steals and Deals. This dress was from the designer Terani and came in a beautiful champagne pink. This wasn’t even the dress I was supposed to be buying, but as soon as the seller showed me it, I fell in love. It has everything I dreamed of in the perfect dress: the color, the chiffon skirt, the sparkles on the top.

This awe-inspiring dress was The One for sure, and all for an astounding $120. The price was way cheaper than anything I looked at, for which I give it a five. The only thing wrong was a little bit of fraying at the zipper, much less than the Milano Formals dress, so for quality it receives a four. As for the princess sensation—well, as the little girl I was babysitting said, “You should buy this one! You look like a real-life princess!” So, I give this dress a five for the princess sensation it gave me.

In the end, the price really didn’t determine quality, nor did it guarantee it. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this experience is that The Dress is different for everyone, and sometimes it’s not at the high-end store that everyone goes to. For me, it was a page on Facebook that helped me meet The One.

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