Prom Dress Shopping

Why teenagers won’t shop online for a prom dress 

My daughter is intelligent, witty, popular, scatterbrained, hormonal, fashion conscious and very determined. Determined, not spoilt and as her sensible down to earth mother I expected a few battles and compromises when trying to choose a prom dress but I was utterly unprepared for the stressful experience over the next 2 weeks. Who started this trend from our American cousins and brought it into the UK? I would like to personally throttle them. 

Budgets and blackmail?

I will never again suggest tentatively “shall we look on eBay?” The look of withering disdain at shopping online from eBay for her prom dress would have silenced an MP at 20 yards at PM question time. Her prom is four months away so it had not crossed my mind until there was a panic akin to plopping into a piranha infested river. “All the limos are getting booked up” she wailed. “Everyone has their dress except me” and “I need a hair appointment for my “up do””. I have always had a cool hairdo ranging from Sinead O’Connor to Annie Lennox over the years and have excellent cheekbones so was cross with myself that I had no idea what an “up do “was. I do now – it is costing me £ 35. The receptionist in the hairdressers drawled whilst chewing gum “she will be needing a practice run and that will be £ 25.” The feeling reminded me of the emotional blackmail exerted by the vets last week as my puppy was sick and they demanded £ 171. Kids and dogs! 

Knowing what you want saves time – NOT 

My daughter knew exactly what she wanted and had obviously researched this subject for many hours. It was to be a full length, puffed out, Cinderella dress with bodice, beads and jewels. I resigned myself to a trawl around prom dress shops, wedding shops and Debenhams bridal department. We went to the prom dress shop first and the prices started at £ 275 and looked like the wardrobe department on “Strictly Come Dancing”. We left within 5 minutes after I had hissed in her ear. I forgot to say we took my Mum who is contributing to the budget. Three generations that needed the Ireland peace process negotiators’ to get them to agree on price, style and the morals of prom ceremonies.

 The wedding dress shop that held only a few bridesmaids dresses in my day so as not to outshine the bride had now jumped on the prom shopping bandwagon and had a full row that could be customised and started at £ 100. You guessed correctly; my daughter told the polite assistant what she would like and she pulled out the most expensive in the shop and my daughter eyes lit up like a Harrods shop window at Christmas. We walked out after 30 minutes. We then agreed to go to Debenhams bridal department and it took 2 minutes and the look of disdain again. 

EBay the saviour 

I then suggested with my creative thinking “ lets look what is for sale on eBay” she snorted “I am not having a second hand one and it will be lasts years fashion”. I told her to sit down and shut up; fast getting to the end of my tether.

I typed on EBay “prom dresses” and the first site to pop up was a Chinese site with the perfect Cinderella dress and available in all colours. I gasped with relief and delight and beamed at her only for the look of disdain to be firmly ensconced.

The price was £ 65. She was adamant that no way would she shop online

Reasons why teenagers wont buy a prom dress online  

I analysed each reason she came out with and decided that this was more than peer group pressure. This is a list of the complex reasons and why you should not persuade or even try your daughter to shop online for her prom. 

What if it didn’t fit?

What if her boobs looked big?

What would she tell her friends where she got this from?

She needed it in the next 2 days or her life was not worth living and she would be the last in the school to get her dress.

Everyone else paid £ 275+

How would she know what it looks like?

How could we post it back if it was hideous and not like the picture?

How can you tell what the fabric feels like?

Saying it was a bargain for £ 65 off EBay from China did not excite her in the same way as me and her grandma. The generation gap is alive and well and this is the way it should be. 

I remembered the importance at the age of 16 of fitting in, being cool, feeling anxious, being shallow, self absorbed and decided that this is the way she should be. There is plenty of time for her to put herself last behind her family, forget to care about her looks, worry about wrinkles, not be able to pull off the look of a Cinderella dress. There was a silver lining to the cloud as the process was a great trial run for her wedding I am hoping for, where I can wear a hat that requires scaffolding. In each prom dress she tried on she looked beautiful; my chest puffed out in pride and my arms riddled with goose bumps.

 Finally found the perfect one for £ 90

 My creative mind was doing overtime and I thought about my friend who is wealthy, very frugal and always gets bargains. I called her and she said last year her daughter hired a fabulous prom dress from a great lady who had been doing it for years and was fantastic and patient. I looked at her website and there was definitely Cinderella types of all colours. We made an appointment and she was a saviour. We found the perfect dress in 50 minutes, I filled up and blew my nose noisily and was relieved to know we won’t be left with a dress that cost £ 275 that we will have to sell on ebay after July. So get out there and enjoy your shopping ,…who said online shopping was better than real shopping