Prom: An increasingly-costly high school tradition
Published 10:42 am, Friday, May 17, 2013
It's a night high school students dream of.
A night when anything can happen.
Girls spend weeks looking for the perfect dress, the most amazing shoes, the right hairstyle.
The guys, usually at the direction of their dates, will rent their tuxes.
But a night of high school magic can have a steep cost.
In 2012, Visa released a report showing that the cost of prom is skyrocketing. From 2011 to 2012, prom spending increased by 33 percent from a national average of $807 to $1,078. Those costs have slowed slightly. From 2012 to 2013, the price of prom has only increased 5 percent from $1,078 to $1,139.
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Not only that, but the Northeast was the worst offender when it came to the amount spent. On average in 2013, families in the Northeast will spend $1,528, nearly twice as much as families in the Midwest, $722. Southern families will spend an average of $1,203 and Western families will spend $1,079 on average.
It's not hard to see how spending nearly $2,000 can be achieved.
Tickets are $80 a student, and normally, some mothers have said, the boys will wind up paying for the girls' tickets.
The same Visa study also found that, in 2012, parents are planning to pay for 59 percent of the prom costs, while their children pick up the rest.
But does paying for certain aspects of prom also include shopping for them, too?
When it comes to floral accents, such as the boutonnieres and corsages, that seems to be the case.
"Very rarely does the kid come in and select their flowers for their partner," said Tony Vitti, store manager of Nielsen's Florist.
Certain flowers are more popular than others, according to Vitti.
"Ninety-nine percent of the kids want white flowers," Vitti said, including white sweethearts, spray roses and mini orchids for the corsages. The same is for the men, with the white roses, "just big enough for the men," being the popular choice for boutonnieres.
The average corsage with a fabric wristband and five white roses at the shop costs $45.
"They're small and very appropriate for a high school girl," Vitti said.
Boutonnieres will run $12.50 at Nielsen's.
Other shops in town have a lower floral arrangement cost, about $28 for a corsage and $8 for a boutonniere. But that doesn't seem to stop students from flocking to Nielsen's. This year, they arranged and sold between 230 and 240 corsages and boutonnieres combined.
Vitti said its biggest business comes from Darien. The store also sells corsages and boutonnieres to surrounding towns, as well.
Scrolling through pictures of past proms, one may notice that high, tight updos with hundreds of bobby pins are a thing of the past. Hairstylists in town have noticed the same trend.
Andrew Stefanou, of Stefanou Salon in Darien, said that the current prom hairstyles are loose and more free-flowing.
"A lot of the girls are wearing their hair down," Stefanou said. "Some have their hair partially up, but they are mostly wearing their hair down with a lot of curls. I've seen a lot of loose pony tails."
Hair and makeup at Stefanou's salon can cost between $140 and $150.
However, an even newer trend is costing more than twice that.
Extensions can cost anywhere between $500 and $2,000 depending on the type of extensions -- synthetic or human hair -- and the amount of extensions used.
"It has been a big trend this year," Stefanou said. "I don't know if it's because of the award shows or the stars."
Several high school girls have opted for the extensions in their hair, Stefanou said.
"And they look so good, there are so many choices," Stefanou said.
The trends of the Hollywood stars don't just rub off on the high school girls for prom; the men also take advice from the silver screens when selecting their suits.
Those influences come from the latest James Bond movie, "Skyfall," starring Daniel Craig.
"The classic tuxedo will never go out of style," Tunick said.
There are a handful of kids, Tunick said, that are still opting for the colored bow ties and vests and cummerbunds, but for the most part, the classic look is in high demand.
Renting a tuxedo from Tunick's store, which has been in Darien for 37 years, can cost anywhere from $120 to $175, depending on the accessories and the quality of the suit.
Tunick said he has one student who rented an all-white tuxedo and some have opted for the white dinner jacket, but when asked for advice on how to "jazz up" a look, Tunick tells them to look to their feet.
"We tell them they can jazz it up with a cool pair of socks," Tunick said. "I always wear red socks with my tux, because I'm always going somewhere fun in a tux."
There was a time when the large skirt, "princess"-styled prom dresses, were sought after, but according to a saleswoman at TOGS, a clothing shop in New Canaan that also sells prom dresses, this year the dresses are mainly "strapless and flowy."
Dresses from TOGS can run anywhere from $300 to $400.
Prom dresses have a wide range of price options and aren't as consistent as salon costs, suit rental costs and floral accessory costs.
Depending on the store, a prom dress can be less than one hundred dollars, while on the other hand, it can be near $1,000.
A group of mothers were discussing prom after the Tuesday, May 14, Board of Eduaction meeting and pointed out that many students are choosing to not arrive by way of stretch limousine, but instead by yellow school bus, a significantly more cost-effective way of travel.
If a group of students were to rent a school bus for seven hours from First Student Charter 1, a bus rental company, and filled the bus to the 48-person capacity, the cost per student would only be $11.
Typically, the cost of a limousine that fits eight will cost each rider at least $100.
Who said being in style meant arriving in style?