Girls, you have been instructed by your parents not to spend too much money, and you want to comply … but you also want a spectacular dress. What to do!
So we’re here, and ready to help with some great stores that will make you—and your mom—happy.
BCBG Max Azria Factory Store
Pleasant Prairie, WI
If you like BCBG dresses but not their price tags, head over to the factory store at Prime Outlets in Pleasant Prairie. It’s about a 45-minute drive from the North Shore but the trip is well worth the drive. There is a huge selection (probably four times the inventory of the BCBG store at Northbrook Court) and the prices are often a third- to half-off retail.
Looking for a custom dress? If you want to go for broke, Dame Couture is a relatively economical place to buy a unique couture gown. Dame Couture has been designing and making special-occasion gowns since 2004. Owner/designers Julie Fehler and Holly Greenhagen are creative and innovative. If you don’t see exactly what you like on the rack, they are happy to customize a style or start from scratch. No one else will have your dress at the prom. There’ll be no comparisons of “who wore it better” at graduation. They specialize in making dresses with special details that make your dress perfect for you, and only you.
Robin Elliott Special Occasions Boutique
The Robin Elliott Special Occasions Boutique offers prom, graduation and bat mitzvah dresses. Sizes 0 through 30 are available for most gowns. To help you complete your outfit, they carry shoes, purses and jewelry. No appointment is necessary. My daughter’s good friend bought her dress here—the same dress that Keira Knightley wore in “Atonement.”
The Michigan Avenue store is the only J. Crew location in Chicago that carries anything “bridal” … and the dresses work wonderfully for prom and graduation (most of their dresses come in ivory). Classic lines, beautiful colors, elegant and affordable. Check online for the style you like, then try on a sample at the store. Although they usually only carry size 8 samples, if you make an appointment at least a week in advance they will order the dresses you’d like to try on in your size. Call first. They work by appointment only.
Girlfriend Tip: If you happen to be shopping for a college student, make sure to bring along her college I.D. to receive a 15% discount.
GiGi’s Closette specializes in graduation. They always stock a large number of white and off-white gowns in varying styles. The sales clerk advised us to stop in soon because, with enough lead time, even the other gowns in various colors that they regularly stock can be ordered in white or off-white.
This store is all about prom with a capital “P.” They also carry a large selection of graduation gowns. They always have white and off-white dresses. Peaches is 10,000-square-feet and they have over 10,000 dresses in the store at any one time. They rarely place a special order but are happy to do so if necessary.
The dresses are reasonably priced. The store tracks which dresses are going to which prom so two girls won’t show up in the same dress! They also carry a wide selection of shoes and accessories: tiaras, straps and slips in all shapes and sizes. The store caters to sizes 0-30.
Jessica McClintock Boutiques offer a large selection of updated looks for prom, homecoming, and graduation dresses.
Girlfriend Tip: Click here for weekly store coupon
Doris Bridal Boutique
Doris’ carries a large collection of designer gowns, many suitable for prom and graduation. Professional customizing and expert tailoring can be done in store. Calling ahead for an appointment is recommended.
Seven Chicago locations including: Old Orchard, Water Tower Place and Bucktown
If you are looking for a dress that screams: young, fashion forward, provocative and fun Akira is the store for you.