Prom dress styles take a hint from the storybooks

Remember Emma Watson in 'Beauty and the Beast'?
Jessi Williams (left) and Zoe Nadler model Sheri Hill dresses in Saratoga Springs.
Jessi Williams (left) and Zoe Nadler model Sheri Hill dresses in Saratoga Springs.

Prom dress styles seem to be taking a hint from the storybooks this year. 

Floor-sweeping and extravagant-looking ball gowns, along with the tailored silhouettes of the mermaid-dress styles, are popping up at proms and senior galas across the Capital Region. 

It’s partly due to the cyclical nature of fashion. Ball gowns haven’t made a comeback in a few years, so the dress style may seem new and interesting to teens. But some local boutique owners say teens may also be taking inspiration from Emma Watson’s look in Disney’s live action re-creation of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“A lot of them say, ‘I feel like a princess’ when they come out [of the dressing room],” said Inas Abdul of Xena’s Bridal in Albany. Their sales floor is full of ball gown-clad mannequins. Abdul said it’s one of the styles that customers are most drawn to this year, perhaps because of the regal feeling it seems to be giving customers. 

But the “princess look” in the recently released “Beauty and the Beast” has been updated from the animated version that was released in 1991. The long gloves of Belle’s animated counterpart were ditched, and the heavy tiered fabric was replaced with a lighter material and few tiers. The ball gowns of high schoolers in the Capital Region have followed suit. 

Christine Goutos, the owner of Rockabella Boutique in Saratoga Springs, said that the ball gown styles she’s seen this year have a modern touch that separates them from the classical ball gown style. 

Most formal wear designers have a two-piece ball gown in their lines this year and many are adding pockets to the skirt designs so the wearer can stash a phone or other small accessory. 

One of the top-selling dresses at Rockabella has been a full hot pink ball gown with a floral top. Beneath the pink exterior is layered crinoline, a mesh material that gives the skirt a fuller silhouette. 

But a voluminous skirt can sometimes be overwhelming for some teens. Zoe Nadler, a junior at Lake George High School, just recently had her prom but is already in search of another dress for an upcoming formal dance. A ball gown dress with embellished pockets caught her eye at Rockabella, but she found the volume that the crinoline added to the dress overwhelming. 

Luckily, another feature of the modern ball gown style is its adaptability. A few layers of the crinoline can easily be removed to lessen the gown’s volume while maintaining the typical ball gown shape. 

Sindi Saita, owner of Apropos Prom and Bridal in Guilderland, has also seen mermaid-style dresses come back. The two-piece mermaid style has been most popular at Apropos, once again giving a modern touch to a classic-looking dress. 

With one of the largest selections in the Capital Region, she gets customers from all over the country and even Canada. But after working in the business for over 30 years, she’s come to realize that styles tend to be school specific. In several schools in the Capital Region, she’s noticed an interest in the two-piece mermaid style dresses. Although there hasn’t been a particular movie or television show to bring this style back into the spotlight, Saita has seen it popping up on Instagram and social media, which she sees as the real influencers of teens. Mythical creatures like unicorns and mermaids seem to have come out of the storybooks and into newsfeeds of most millennials, influencing not only their favorite Starbucks drinks but their prom dresses too. 

Categories: Life and Arts

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