Prom dress prices high, but 'worth it' for many

April 10, 2014

For many girls and their families it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and finding the perfect dress can be costly. Peaches Boutique on Chicago's South Side is a destination point for prom dresses. The store carries thousands of evening gowns in a variety of styles, colors and sizes.

Jasmine Robertson, 17, of Joliet, knows what she wants. Her aunt, Sara Smith, said she will spend whatever it takes for the right dress.

"Just as long as she is happy and comfortable," Smith said.

Adriana Blades thinks she has found the perfect gown, but said it costs $600. Her sister is going to buy it for her.

"It is very important, it is my senior prom," Blades said.

Peaches Boutique carries everything you need for prom night. Dressing rooms are filled with young women trying on gowns that cost several hundred dollars. The average is $550.

Samantha Kowalczyk found a dress for under $600, with shoes to match.

"My mother is helping me, I will end up paying her back," Kowalezyk said. "If you only go to your prom one time, it is totally worth the amount of money you spend on it."

However, a recent Visa survey reported that teens and their families plan to spend under $1,000 this year on prom, which is down 14 percent from last year.

Peaches Boutique owner Barbara Surdej said the cost of prom night is as much as a home mortgage payment, and the dresses this year are colorful and big.

"You can have a dress that is $200-$300, but they want that dress they see on the runway, in magazines and on dance shows," Surdej said.

Delia Herrera selected a dress for a little under $600.

"I worked and I saved money, and it is worth it," Herrera said. "It is really nice, who would not pay for this dress."

Surdej said young men can rent a tux for under $150, and it costs about $50 per person for the limo. Young women, however, still have to buy accessories and have make-up done professionally.

"You are at between $900-$1,100 by the time you are all done," Surdej said.

But Surdej said once fathers see their little girls in the dress, they are willing to go over budget.

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