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Ask Chicagoist: Where to Go Prom Shopping?

By Thales Exoo in Miscellaneous on Mar 30, 2007 2:05PM

Hi Chicagoist!

I have a cousin coming in for Easter weekend, and she wants to go shopping for prom dresses. Since I haven't had to worry about such a thing since the early 90's, I don't really know where to take her. I'm sure she could find lots of stuff on north Michigan Ave, but I'd like to avoid that area if possible. I'm sure The Store That Used to be Marshall Field's would have plenty, but I'm still boycotting it. Does anyone in the Chicagoist universe have any suggestions?

Many thanks,

2007_03_askprom.jpgHi Annie,

We understand your plight in coming up with places to go shopping, but we have to be completely honest with you -- we really can't believe we're answering a question about prom dresses. Frankly, when the question was slipped quietly under our office door, we stared at it blankly with appropriately cool "good lord we didn't even know where to buy prom dresses 15 years ago when it applied to us" looks on our faces and disdainful "damn, high school sucked" attitudes.

But like always, Chicagoist is here for you, Annie.

We think skipping the Michigan Ave. scene is without a doubt wise, and probably cost-prohibitive as well for your typical high school senior. That said, any department store around the city (wait, are there still any?) would probably have plenty of prom dresses, including but of course not limited to Macy's. Try Nordstom and Nordstrom Rack, Bloomingdales, and Lord and Taylor.

Our favorite idea is forgoing downtown, and heading to the more interesting Clark and Belmont area, right around the red line. Everyone from prom queens to drag queens (thanks, Peter), can find something to make them feel like princesses for a night. Check out Fashion Tomato (937 W. Belmont Ave.), Pink Frog (857 W. Belmont Ave.), and Never Mind (957 W. Belmont Ave.), for starters. Some may be heavier on the accessories side than the dress side, but you're sure to find more unique items here, and in an area probably a lot more fun for a high school student. Pretty much any boutique you find in that general area is a good bet.

Apparently, one of the country's largest prom dress shops is located near Midway Airport. If you can make it out to Peaches Boutique (5915-17 S. Archer Ave.), you'll apparently have made it to teenage girl nirvana. With 10,000 square feet of prom dress retail space, she's sure to find something.

Any bridal shop around the city will have plenty of prom dresses as we get into April and May, there are so many we'd suggest just looking up ones near you.

Looking for the super-cheap? Try thrift stores (our favorite is The Brown Elephant, various locations) or Marshalls (various locations) or Filene's Basement (1 N. State St., 830 N. Michigan Ave.).

Something else we want to mention, is as much as we scoff at the formality of prom, for many teenage girls it can really mean a lot and be a great moment where they get to feel special. We really like the work that organizations like The Glass Slipper Project are doing to help out Chicago high school students who just can't purchase their own dresses, pairing them with volunteer "personal shoppers" who help them find the right (donated) dress.

But what are we missing here? Tell us where you'd sent Annie and her cousin prom dress shopping.

Think they're all gonna laugh at you? Need some advice? Email ask(at)chicagoist(dot)com.