Hillary Chybinski: What to Wear to the Big Dance And How to Save Money Too

Friday, April 26, 2013

What to Wear to the Big Dance And How to Save Money Too

Style Ideas and Money-Savings Tips for Proms, Formals and Dances

So it is school dance and prom season in case you haven't noticed. ABC News tweeted  that on average, parents spend $1,139 to send their teen to the prom. That's a pretty pricey event. But it is a once in a lifetime event - right?

As if anticipating the Prom isn't enough to make a young girl's head spin, these days there are Middle School Semi-Formals, Eighth Grade Dances and Bat Mitzvahs too.  I don't have a daughter, so it's very easy for me to walk past the endless rows of sequins and ruffles, sticking my nose up that my daughter would never wear something like that. But I am intrigued. As a bit of a self-proclaimed fashionista, I am drawn to what's out there.

I also noticed that many schools have restricted dress codes for semi-formals and dances. No strapless or sleeveless without a jacket (or shrug, cardi, etc). They cannot be too short or have too large a slit in the back, side or front. When asking my friends about school dance attire, my question was met almost universally with an eye roll and comment about how difficult it is to find something.

So I think there is a real fashion challenge here. . .not just mom vs. daughter . . . but stylish and age-appropriate vs. what's really out there. I am sure these girls want to feel glamorous and pretty, and many of the dresses hanging on the shelves are just this side of street-walker.

What's a mom to do? Where's the middle ground?

I did some scouring and came up with two cute looks - appropriate for the 16 and under set. I didn't select bargain pieces - it's more to give you an idea of what you could do with the "look".

Peach Dress, shoes, bag and earings

Navy dress, silver shoes, bag and shrug

According to Andrea Woroch, parents should consider these seven tips to reduce prom costs while helping your children create an evening to remember:

1. Create a budget. The key to keeping costs down is to create a realistic budget. Make prom an opportunity to teach your children about budgeting and money management.  Have them create a spreadsheet of all the expenses related to the event, and ask them to research prices so estimates are accurate. Once they see how much the dance  will cost, talk to them about which expenses are most important and which ones can be economized.

2. Share the cost. Though we want to give our kids the very best in life, going into debt to do so is not smart, nor does it set a good example. Suggest to your kids  that they share the cost for prom and contribute money toward the dress or suit, dinner, transportation, flowers and more. Encourage them to chat with their friends  about sharing costs too, so everyone's expenses can be reduced

3. Seek out savings. Help your kids find ways to save money on prom expenses. Show them the value of things like coupons, which are more accessible to today's  tech-minded youth with mobile apps like Coupon Sherpa. Point them toward such money-saving tools as discount gift cards and daily deals, and suggest they haggle for  the best price on transportation or tuxedo rentals. Some of these strategies are easier than others, but all offer tools for use beyond prom night.

4. Consider dress-buying alternatives. Purchasing a dress is typically a big expense, especially since the garment will only be worn once. Instead of buying, scan  sites like RentTheRunway.com for designer gowns at a fraction of retail prices. Often times, celebrity-worthy dresses can be rented for less than $100. You can also  suggest shopping consignment stores and sites like Poshmark, Tradesy or even BridesmaidTrade.com, which offers thousands of formal dress styles for a discount.

5. Get creative. Instead of purchasing boutonnieres and corsages, get creative and make your own from spring flowers, ribbon, fabric and even feathers. Formal photos  are unnecessary with selfies dominating social media feeds, but you can make images more special and interactive by offering prom-themed photo booth props printed  through sites like Pinterest. You can also offer to host a formal dinner for your kids and their friends to cut down on dining costs (though they should still chip in  for the cost of ingredients!).

6. Shop online. Deals on attire and accessories can be found online, the parents and prom goers should be wary of dress scams. Some websites with  overseas inventories offer beautiful-looking gowns for very cheap prices, and the garments rarely meet expectations. Quality, fit, color and style can be drastically  different than advertised, so it's better to work with trusted sites and brands. Seek out prom coupons from deal sites for 20% to 40% savings from places like Kohl's,  Macy's and more.

7. Encourage entrepreneurship. If your son or daughter desires a particularly pricey item, like designer dress or sports car rental, suggest they make additional money  to cover the cost. They can take on extra jobs around the neighborhood or sell unwanted clothes on consignment. In fact, Macy's is partnering with consigner thredUp to  help consumers trade gently-used clothing in exchange for a Macy's gift card. If you have old gadgets laying around, suggest they sell them for cash through sites like  Gazelle, Nextworth or Glyde.

I'd love to know your thoughts on this, especially if you have a daughter in the 13-16 age range. What is age appropriate? Do you argue over style or price?

catch you soon -

For more great fashion inspiration, check out the Fashion Friday Links.


  1. I like both of them but really love the pretty as a princess set. Most dances are in dim rooms and this color will make her shine in the low lights. The other one will blend in too much I think.

  2. I'm 10 years away from worrying about this, but I know how I was raised, and my daughter will not be showing off any thighs or cleavage until she is legal. The second outfit would be just perfect for a formal or sweet 16. I'd even grab those shoes for me!

  3. My girls are light years away from school dances. Nonetheless, I love both outfit - pretty as a princess and glamour girl.

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