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What’s the biggest prom dress trend for 2014? Back drama!

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  • Donate a dress

     Whether it’s a prom dress, bridesmaid dress, cocktail dress or formal gown, the Girl Talk Foundation needs new or gently used special occasion dresses in sizes 0-26. Jewelry, purses and unused makeup are also needed. Donations are tax-deductible and can be dropped off at seven locations around town through April 11. They’ll be given to girls who can’t afford a dress during a Prom Project shopping event on April 12 that also includes etiquette lessons and prom safety tips.

     To register for the Prom Project, or for addresses of the donation sites, go to www.girltalkfoundationinc.com.



Teens today are so individualistic that the “perfect” prom dress for them may be long or short, new or from a vintage store.

But as high school girls in Charlotte turn their attention to spring prom this year, they’ll find many dresses focusing on a feature that has not received much attention in past years: the back.

“Backless or dresses with backs that have straps, sequins and cutouts are what’s in,” says Brittney Howard, the special-occasion dress manager for Dillard’s at SouthPark mall. “Last year it was high-low hemlines.”

At the Dillard’s prom fashion show held recently at the store, teen girls walked a red carpet showing off the trend. Among them was a mint green Sequin Hearts cap-sleeve lace gown that was demure from the front, but showed off the back with a large triangular cutout above a sweet bow. Another mint green Sequin Hearts gown had a back covered in sequins except for a small cutout below the shoulder blades.

At Belk SouthPark’s prom fashion show, a white Nightway gown had an open back crisscrossed with a star burst of wide straps studded with sprays of sequins. A dramatic navy and gold Betsy and Adam gown was almost completely backless except for a wide strap with sequin and bead trim.

Arlene Goldstein, vice president of trend merchandising and fashion direction for Belk, describes the trend as back drama.

A secondary trend is a gown with a peplum, a reflection of the current popularity of the retro style that’s a short overskirt attached at the waist. A model at that show looked chic in a bright red strapless gown with a peplum.

Whatever the style, Goldstein’s advice to prom gown shoppers? “Be open to newness, but put fit first,” she says. “And comfort is key. It’s going to be a long night if your dress is pinching or pulling!”

Your hair is so Pinteresting

A casual survey of area hair stylists reveals that Pinterest pages and the hairstyles of celebrities, including Taylor Swift’s sweet-yet-sophisticated ponytail at the 2014 Grammy Awards, are inspiring prom hair trends. And forget the days of girls bringing in pages ripped from magazines. They just hold up their smartphones to show the perfect prom tresses they’re hoping to achieve.

Face time

When it comes to makeup for prom, many girls want an amped-up look of their everyday preferences. “If she’s used to wearing makeup, she wants something more dramatic and maybe a smoky eye,” says Diane Andersen, manager of the Clinique makeup counter at Dillard’s SouthPark. “If she’s not used to wearing makeup, she wants just enough to enhance her features.” The day of prom, Andersen says it’s not unusual to have girls coming by her counter to get their makeup done. “It’s good because at that age they’re concerned with how their skin looks, so it’s a chance to talk to them about taking care of their skin, and if they end up buying a product, that’s great.”

Your night to sparkle

As with dresses, the style of shoes girls choose for prom can range from sneakers and flat slippers or sandals to platform heels. Amani Dooley-Wilkes, the women’s assistant buyer for Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse, says what’s most popular for prom are heels with intricate and sparkling details. “(Teen girls) love sequins, glitter and beading and are open to a platform or single sole,” she says. When it comes to color, they’re gravitating towards iridescent silver material, “Tiffany” blue, pinks and gold. “I think these trends are popular because they’re very flattering on the foot and give her some coverage at the same time, and they compliment any dress.”

Boutonniere or not?

There was a time when teens wouldn’t dare show up to prom without a date. Now groups of girls and boys who are friends often go together in packs.

Does that signal the end of the once-ubiquitous boutonniere for the boy and wrist corsage for the girl? Not according to Connie Proctor of the Blossom Shop. In her six years working for the florist, she hasn’t noticed a decrease in orders. “Mothers drive this trend – they still want the flowers that match the dress, so they’re the ones who call in the order.”

What is new is the shunning of the white elastic band on wrist corsages. “The trend now is to build the corsage around a bracelet – a single strand rhinestone bracelet or a larger cuff bracelet – and then the girl has a keepsake from the evening that she can wear,” says Proctor.

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