Samantha Pouchak stood in front of the brightly lit mirror at Apropos on Wednesday, glancing at herself from all angles to make sure that her tightly fitted white and gold sequined dress fit her perfectly.
The 17-year-old junior at Mohonasen High School said finding the perfect dress for her prom was “kind of a big deal.”
“You want to make sure you look good and, well, that everything is perfect,” she said.
Prom season is in full swing and dress shops all over are bustling with activity, as girls visit one last time to make sure the seamstress altered their dress correctly and to check that their date’s tuxedo is the correct shade.
Apropos is well known for its prom dresses. Owner Sindi Saiti said girls come from Buffalo, western Massachusetts, southern Vermont and Binghamton to buy a dress from her store.
Shauna-Rae Shanahan of Saratoga Springs, a senior at Saratoga Springs High School, bought a new dress at the last minute from Apropos for her senior prom Saturday after an alteration mishap with her original dress, which she bought from a shop in Saratoga Springs.
Shanahan said her mother, Tracey Costanza, knew about Apropos because it was a popular place to buy a dress when she was in high school. Shanahan patiently waited on the leopard print sofa Wednesday while one by one, other girls tried on their dresses and Saiti bustled around them.
There was a similar scene at The New Paris Shop on East Main Street, where owner Philomena Iorio has helped young girls find the perfect dress for 32 years.
Dresses hung from nearly every rack of Iorio’s downtown shop, where about 2,000 dresses are sold each year.
An entire wall of dresses was waiting to be picked up Wednesday. Girls come from as far as Canada, Connecticut and New York City to find a dress for their big night, Iorio said.
Prom season in the Capital Region begins toward the end of April, but girls already are out searching for the perfect dress around December, said Marylu Aragosa, who owns Ferri Formals and Bridals on Union Street in Schenectady.
Danielle’s Bridal Boutique in Saratoga Springs attracts girls from Plattsburgh and Poughkeepsie to Rochester and Vermont. The store sells about 400 prom dresses per year and manages a folder that includes 40 schools.
The boutique keeps a record of every dress it sells to ensure that no two girls will be wearing the same dress from their store at the same event.
“We check the book before a girl is even allowed to try on dresses so they don’t fall in love with one they can’t have,” bridal consultant Kari Stangle said.
Dress shops are even busier this month if they also rent tuxedos, because boys tend to wait until the last minute to get them.
Stangle said she saw between 10 and 15 boys Monday who were renting tuxedos for the Saratoga Springs prom on Saturday.
Prom dresses aren’t cheap, but store owners Wednesday said they haven’t noticed any difference in their sales in the last few years despite the recession.
Aragosa said her store sells upscale formal gowns made from silk and charmeuse and designed by the likes of Vera Wang. She said her dresses range in price from $150 to $550.
Aragosa said she has found that mothers don’t mind spending the money on a dress they know their daughter would be able to wear again.
“Prom is a special time in a girl’s life and they are going to be able to wear these dresses into college. It is no longer considered a one-time use,” she said.
Amsterdam High freshman Lauren Lucente, 14, is going to the prom this year. She said she found her dress online and ordered it at Apropos.
Her mother, Kristin Brzezicki, said she didn’t care how much her daughter spent on her dress because the prom is a once-a year thing.
“She’s my only daughter and this is the fun part of high school,” she said.
Pam Pouchak, Samantha Pouchak’s mother, said they did have a budget, but it went out the window the minute she saw her daughter’s face as she tried on her white and gold dress.
“We tried to budget,” Pouchak said, “but when she came out her face just lit up in that dress. It’s worth it.”