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Pretty pricey prom?

Local retailers say it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to look good at the big dance

April 8, 2012
By EMILIE NELSON, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

From the excited teenage girls in search of the perfect dress to picking out the right flowers for the corsage, prom season is in full swing at local formal wear and floral shops - but it doesn't have to come at a huge expense, retailers say.

"Everyone wants to look good and have a great time, but it doesn't have to be spendy," said Tina Williamson, owner of Repeat Boutique, a secondhand shop in downtown Fort Dodge. "Especially for a few hours for just one night."

Williamson's store has a large selection of more than 300 previously worn prom and special occasion dresses to choose from, and has seen surge of business from teenage girls coming in to shop in the formalwear room in recent weeks.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson
Humboldt High School freshman Ashlie Gord selected a never-worn red spaghetti strapped gown with black bead accents with its original tags for $19.99 at the Repeat Boutique for her boyfriend’s April 28 prom at Pocahontas Area-Pomeroy/Palmer.

Williamson expects to continue seeing customers in search of prom dresses for a few more weeks.

"We see a lot of girls who decide at the last minute to go to prom, or maybe those who change their minds on their dress,"she said.

Williamson has dresses in stock ranging anywhere from as low as $15 to around $100. Some still bear their original price tags, offering an opportunity to find a brand-new dress for less. "We got most of the leftover dresses in from the Unique Boutique after they closed at the mall," Williamson said.

Fact Box

Area High School Proms

Algona: Saturday

Bishop Garrigan: April 21

Clarion-Goldfield:April 21

Corwith-Wesley-LuVerne: April 28

Eagle Grove:?April 28

East Sac: Saturday

Emmetsburg: Saturday

Fort Dodge: April 21

Humboldt: April 21

Manson Northwest Webster: April 28

Pocahontas Area/Pomeroy Palmer: April 28

Prairie Valley: April 28

St. Edmond: Saturday

South Central Calhoun: April 21

Webster City: April 28

West Bend-Mallard: April 28

Humboldt High School freshman Ashlie Gord spent a recent afternoon at Repeat Boutique shopping for a dress to be worn to her boyfriend's prom at Pocahontas Area-Pomeroy/Palmer High School. She was searching with a particular dress in mind.

"I want something in red," she said. "It will match their colors and the prom's 'Fire and Ice' theme."

It only took Gord a matter of minutes to find a red spaghetti strap dress with a slit side and black beaded embellishments to know she had found the perfect dress.

"It's perfect. I love it. I'm just in love with it," Gord said, admiring the dress in a mirror.

The best part?

"It was $20," said Gord.

Iowa Central Community College student Kelly Dewelf also found a floor-length blue beaded formal dress at Repeat Boutique to wear for an upcoming special event for around $37.

"We come in here a lot," Dewelf said. "This might be the most expensive dress I've actually bought and it's only $37."

For those looking for the popular, but unique, floral or animal-print dress or a full-length ballgown, 2 Be Trendy, in Fort Dodge, has a vast selection of both new and pre-worn dresses available starting at $60 and up to as much as around $300.

"We have a price range to fit almost anyone," said Shelli Gibson, owner of 2 Be Trendy.

Girls who purchase their dresses at Gibson's shop can save a little money on accessories by selecting one free piece of jewelry from the jewelry tree to match their dress.

"Everyone gets a free accessory for their dress," said Gibson.

A selection of many colors of glitter flip-flops, at $10 a pair, offer a less expensive option on footwear for those who want to be comfortable, yet elegant, while saving a little money on their prom look, Gibson said.

"We have just about any color you could want in our flip-flops," she said.

Prom isn't just for the girls, which is why Gibson offers a full line of tuxedo rentals from both Skeffingtons and Tip Top Tux at her shop at low costs.

"We'll meet or beat anyone's prices on our tuxes," said Gibson.

Tuxedo rentals at 2 Be Trendy range from $75 up to around $160. Each rental includes jackets, pants, shirt, vest and a tie.

"The shoes are extra," said Gibson. "But we do have several shoes in store, and if they are able to go with those, they can get them for less."

Foley Clothing Co. also has an array of tuxedos available to rent from a variety of vendors in several colors and price ranges, Manager John Junkman said.

"A budget rental starts at $69.95, but there are some tations on selection," Junkman said. "For $89.95 you can get a tux with really no restrictions on choice of vests, ties or colors."

All rentals from Foley's also include jacket, pants, tie, vest and a white or ivory shirt.

"Shoes are extra, they're typically anywhere from $15 to $25," he said.

For the young men looking to get multiple uses out of their prom attire for one price, Junkman said purchasing a black suit may be an option.

"We usually do sell a few suits," he said. "They're good for those who might have multiple proms or other events coming up."

No prom is complete without the flowers.

Heather Stafford, assistant floral manager at Hy-Vee, said possibilities are endless on what floral designers can do to match a look and budget.

"It's almost limitless what we can do," said Stafford. "We have hundreds of rolls of ribbon and a variety of flowers."

Traditional roses, mums and carnations and ribbon provide a simple look for a base price of around $25 on corsages, but for additional cost special flowers such as lilies, daisies or orchids can be used. Rhinestones, tulle and feathers can also be added to create a personalized look.

The corsages can also double as an accessory.

"We use wristlets for the corsages," said Stafford. "When prom is over, they can cut the flowers off and still have a bracelet to wear as a keepsake from their prom night."

Gibson said prom should be about fun, not necessarily money. "There's no reason you can't go to prom for a good price," she said.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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