FASHION: Prom in the Cle by Dru Thompson


Prom in the Cle.

Ahhh, memories.

Not long ago, you were dropping them off off at preschool and BOOM. Jr. High School, driver ed, summer school later, it’s senior year.

Those bittersweet memories are interrupted by the busy schedules, deadlines and expenses this senior year will bring. Sheesh. It all adds up.  Quickly.

But the biggest senior year expense for some?  Prom.  The one day many seniors envision as the biggest day of their high school experience and one of the days that people tend to remember, good or bad, well into adulthood for the rest of their lives.

No pressure, parents.

In the quest to make this day special, parents are faced with a choice between what is affordable and what’s considered over the top.  The media adds even more pressure to these events as teens are able to compare prom experiences of other schools nationally, without considering the differences in economic including backgrounds, family incomes, etc.

According to a Prom Across America Survey, between hair and makeup, outfits, tickets and rides to prom, teens are spent an average of $600 or more on prom in 2017.  (Through my clients, I’ve witnessed this amount as a mere fraction of the total prom cost.  This figure doesn’t include transportation, after prom outfit and activities, nails, accessories, etc.). And the high costs are NOT exclusive to gender. Different costs occur for different aspects of prom.

So what is a parent to do to help their teen look their best for the big day without going into enlisting a gofundme? Planning and a little research can go a long way in making this day as stress free and special as imagined.

Believe it or not, the race for prom begins the summer before senior year starts for some families. As you read this article, we are almost into the 2 1/2 to 3 month countdown.  Still nothing to wear?  There’s time.  I can help.

The Look — for less?

The most important component of the big day is the attire.  Based on the look your teen wants to achieve, there are a few decisions to be made.  Do you want your items custom-made?  Will you visit local formal boutiques and buy off the rack?  Or will you roll the dice and order a dress online?



I might be a little biased, but there is something special about having items custom made. As a customer, you will have a one-of-a-kind experience to create any type of look you want for your special day.

You can bring a sketch or a photo, select fabrics and choose other details that make the look all your own. Special sizing (tall, short, petite, plus) may also be a consideration for making the choice of a custom piece.

HOWEVER, these factors ONLY work with a trained fashion design professional.  When selecting a designer for your prom attire, research is highly recommended.  There are many “designers” that only emerge during prom season to make a quick buck, often with little experience or stamina to properly service prom clients.  When choosing a designer, ask for references, photos of work, website, social media handles, etc.

Another point to consider about custom work:  It should not be considered the inexpensive route — you get what you pay for.


If you don’t want the fuss of the custom experience, now more than ever, there are so many places to find prom attire. Always an advocate for small, local businesses, here are a few places to start around town:

Darlafoxx (662 Broadway Avenue, Bedford, Ohio 44146)

Fashions by Fowler (13119 Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio 44120) — carries men’s & women’s formal attire

Martins Menswear (696 East 185th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44119, 1-216-481-4949)

Mister Albert’s Mensworld (618 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114)

Ruby’s Fashion (20850 Libby Rd., Southgate USA Shopping plaza, Maple Heights, Ohio 44137)

The benefit of shopping locally is to have an opportunity to try on the prom apparel to discover what colors, shapes and styles go with your body type.  What you envisioned may not look the same once you try it on in the shop, so these shops are a great place to start.

HOWEVER, you may run the risk of seeing yourself at your event.  Many shops do a great job of not repeating attire at schools, but since there is no master database for prom (if only \uD83D\uDE02), one can never be 100% certain.

Remember, when buying off the rack consider the additional costs of alterations.  Most stores offer the service with purchase or with discounted rates.  Again, plan accordingly.


Fellas, if you are going the traditional route, renting a tux is pretty easy.

Think it’s too old-school? Think again. The new styles and colors for men’s tuxedos are more fashion forward than ever.  So, planning ahead for the best selection is recommended.

And you’ll still need accessories (shoes, belt, watch, etc.) to make the look your own.


Buyer, beware.  The Internet is good for a lot of things. Ufortunately, on an occasion as important as prom, the old-fashioned way may work best.  There have been mixed reviews and concerns regarding buying prom attire from an internet shop.

Like clockwork, around the end of April or beginning of May, I can’t tell you the number of dresses and blazers that arrive at my shop accompanied by a “it doesn’t look like the picture on the website” story.  More often than not, the attempt to revive the piece to the look on the actual photo becomes a bigger project than expected. In most cases, the process of recreating the item is more cost-effective and safe than attempting to alter a bad or poor design.


There are also calls from families in the ninth hour, trying to get a custom dress made because the dress never arrived for several reasons. The site may have disappeared, the international shipping time wasn’t considered, or it was simply lost. All bad. When this happens, parents are forced to make faster decisions such as impulse purchases or paying rush fees that cost them more money in the end.

When shopping the Internet, ESPECIALLY for prom attire, remember:

*Read the reviews from other customers.

*Consider where the order will ship to ensure your attire arrives on time.

*Alterations may be needed; plan for additional costs.

*Only give credit card information to sites with the “https” web address.

(The “s” ensures a secure website for your credit card and personal info.  )

*And…yes, you get what you pay for!

Ready or not — Prom is coming!  It will be over soon.

Ready for the phone calls,



About the writer: Dru Thompson is a fashion designer who owns and operates Dru Christine Fabrics and Design, a design studio located in Lake Affect Studios in the Superior Arts District. Through community involvement, Thompson has firmly established herself in the arts and fashion community as a writer, educator at the Cleveland School of the Arts, and mentor for aspiring entrepreneurs. To learn more about the design, visit, on Instragram @druchristine, Twitter @druchristine and Facebook Dru Christine Fabrics and Design.

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