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Helping Your Teen Choose The Perfect Homecoming Dress

Homecoming means the first dance of the high school year, and finding the perfect dress is a pretty big deal. Although, as you must remember from your own experience, almost everything is a pretty big deal to a teenage girl. Going shopping for that dress with your daughter, whether online or in a brick and mortar store, can be a lot of fun or it can be torture. To make it easier on both of you, some preparation is in order.

Set a Budget

Before you head out on that real or virtual shopping trip, have a budget in mind. Like anything else, homecoming dresses can be wildly expensive or modestly priced, and there are similar styles at all levels, so set a price range and don’t look beyond it. If you start looking at dresses you can’t afford, what are you going to do if your daughter falls in love with one that turns out to be three times as much as you wanted to or are able to spend? Answer: you say sorry, dear, and everything else she tries on makes her feel as if she’s settling.

As you decide on a budget, remember also that there are costs beyond the dress. There are shoes and accessories to consider, and maybe even special undergarments since if it’s ever appropriate to have bra straps showing (really?), a dress-up event is certainly not the time for it. If your daughter is going to have her hair and/or her makeup done, add that into the costs, too.

Then, if her school tradition is to go with friends rather than dates, take into consideration the price of the ticket, which can be $10 or less to as high as $50 and more at some schools. Some kids share the cost of a limo, too, so count that in. And is the group going to a nice place for dinner or heading somewhere after the dance? Ka-ching. It all adds up.

Check the Dress Code

Make sure you know if the event is going to be formal or semi-formal. Formal usually means a long gown, and although a short dressy dress would be fine, there are so few occasions in most people’s lives that call for going all out, it’s usually more fun to do it to the max. Semi-formal means a fancy short dress. In any case, homecoming dances aren’t as glam as proms, so your daughter might want to save the Oscar red carpet look for spring. For help in decoding dress requirements for homecoming and other occasions, check out

Also check ahead for any school dress-code policies. In most cases they will address the issues of how low necklines can plunge, how high slits can reach, and what is otherwise considered inappropriate.

Then beyond what her school does or does not permit, you’ve got to have a personal talk about how much skin you approve of her baring, and what constitutes the difference between figure-hugging and straight out unladylike. It’s sometimes hard to convince a teenager that what some superstar wore to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show is not acceptable in real life at all, much less for your lovely daughter, but stand your ground. It might take years, mind you, but she’ll thank you later.

Think About Style

Some girls love to follow the trends and some want to set their own. The fashion trends for homecoming 2017 include both delicate and bold floral prints, dresses embellished with embroidery and beading, lace details, asymmetric and high-low hemlines, sleeves ranging from cap to long, and a wide variety of interesting necklines and off the shoulder styles. Shiny and glittery dresses hint at the holidays to come, and you’ll see lots of two-piece dresses that offer versatility for future wearings.

If your daughter is more inclined to do her own thing, you can invite her to shop in the spare room closet for a vintage (sorry it’s come that!) dress that has happy memories of a dance you once attended. She can also display her personal style by putting together something like actress Sharon Stone once did when she wowed the fashion critics by pairing an elegant long Vera Wang evening skirt with a long-sleeved men’s white shirt from The Gap.

Whatever your daughter’s style or size, you’ll be her best advisor when it comes to what looks most flattering on her. Point her toward whatever will highlight her best feature, whether it’s a small waist, long legs, or just her pretty face.

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