Archive for Tuesday, April 22, 2008

By the book

Department store helps teens avoid embarrassing prom problems

Becca Kellerman, left,  and Hannah Norman, both Lawrence High School juniors, try on prom dresses at Weaver's Department Store, 901 Mass. St., in the special occasion department. At Weaver's, girls attending a prom or other special event, can check a notebook that lists what color and style of gown other girls have purchased to reduce the chance of wearing similar dresses.

Becca Kellerman, left, and Hannah Norman, both Lawrence High School juniors, try on prom dresses at Weaver's Department Store, 901 Mass. St., in the special occasion department. At Weaver's, girls attending a prom or other special event, can check a notebook that lists what color and style of gown other girls have purchased to reduce the chance of wearing similar dresses.

April 22, 2008


On the street

Is prom that big a deal at your school?

Yeah, I think it’s a big deal. I think our school has pretty good school spirit, and we really look forward to this time of year with prom coming up and the seniors graduating.

More responses

Prom embarrassment comes in all shapes and sizes - the bad tux, monster zit or pit stains - but nothing is so bad as swinging through the door of the ladies room and coming face to face with a girl wearing your dress.

Same color, same length, same cut.

"If I walked into prom and somebody had on my dress, I think I would have a heart attack," Free State High School senior Lauren Garrett says. "I mean, it would be kind of funny if it happened to somebody else, but if it happened to me, I wouldn't like it very much."

The horrified screams of proms past and present are being heard loud and clear at Weaver's Department Store, 901 Mass., where savvy high school girls know to go by the book.

The book, says sales associate Kaylie Price, herself a Lawrence High grad and former prom-goer, is a way to avoid a matching prom-night dress debacle.

"We have a book that we keep that tells what dress goes to what school, like no names of course, so a lot of girls come in and ask for the book and say, 'Oh, I want to see if anyone else has the dress that I really want,'" Price says.

The book is a the brainchild of Janet Mihalchik, second-floor manager, who introduced it about 18 months ago.

"I just knew that with my daughter, I've lived in Lawrence and she went to Free State ... everyone thinks that Lawrence High or Free State comes here to get their dress and everybody looks the same," Mihalchik says. "I figured, well, if we write it down, then that'll stop that. We could track it. It's to their advantage, not mine."

Girls can track dresses as well as figure out what kind of colors or lengths are popular at their schools for the dance - long or short - so they can fit in better or standout more.

Now, Mihalchik says, girls from not only Lawrence and the surrounding area, but also Kansas City and Topeka, know about the book. Divided by high school or region, it neatly lists the type of dress, color, length and date it was purchased, leaving a clear record of dress foot traffic.


Making matters more critical on the perfect dress front is the fact that because Lawrence and Free State high schools only do senior proms, a lot of girls only go one year.

"Even when I was a sophomore, the idea of prom was really fun - and especially since it's the senior year, it's the countdown to like your last big party as a high schooler," says Garrett, who will be attending her first prom Saturday. "I think the exclusivity does play a part in it because with winter formal, you know, it's open to the entire school and it's fun to have dances with the entire school. But when it gets to prom it's special to you because you're going to prom with the people you went to kindergarten with."

Lawrence High senior Ashli Trussell, however, is a bit different. She's on her fourth prom - two in Texas, soon-to-be two in Lawrence. But that doesn't mean she's not immune to finding the perfect dress - or the horror of a copycat.

"My sophomore year, when I went, this girl actually went out of the country and got a dress that was almost identical to mine," Trussell says. "She got hers there thinking no one else was going to have hers."

After deciding on a bright yellow number, though, Trussell is now logged in the book. Let all other Lawrence High girls be warned.

Also dreaming of a yellow dress was Lawrence High junior Becca Kellerman - though she won't be picking Trussell's dress, thanks to the book and a difference in taste. Trussell's dress is straight-down silk, while Kellerman has a ball-gown silhouette in mind for her first trip to prom, which is May 10.

"I've always kind of wanted the big, kind of princess style, probably like every little girl's dream," Kellerman says. "Belle from 'Beauty and the Beast' was always my idol and I was in love with her and my family still calls me 'Belle.' If I could find like a big, yellow dress and have the gloves and everything, I think that would kind of be a dream come true for me."

Finding the perfect dress, no matter what it looks like, can be a teen's dream, and despite what other people are wearing on the dance floor, Free State senior Maddie Glass is going to enjoy her only trip to the big dance.

"It's like my last hurrah with my good friends," Glass says. "I just want to go and have a good time. If someone else has my dress ... they just better not look better than I do."


Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

The culture continues to devolve into the mundane. This is what our kids are worried about? Who wears the same dress as you? If I were the parent of the girl wearing the dress with the plunging neckline, I'd be more worried about my daughter getting an STD or negatively impacting her future by a pregnancy. It's obvious that she's advertising and that dress is something I'd expect to see on the red carpet shows for the Oscars, not at a High School prom....

ronwell_dobbs 9 years, 12 months ago

That's where the saying "off like a prom dress" comes from.Agreed. More non-news to keep the populace at bay.

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

Jason, get a clue. It's not obvious she is "advertising." Dresses like that have been around for years. And I could ask if you have been around women much, because yes, high school girls, and even adult women, worry if someone else is wearing their dress if they are going to an event or the prom. but I won't ask you. That would be rude.

Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 12 months ago

Hey, Jason...chill out man. Really 'bra, it's okay to celebrate the little things in life. I remember my prom quite fondly too...good times, good times.

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

I like that, logic - boob-y. I don't know too many girls who wouldn't try on a dress like that at least once. I am sure her dad won't like that dress, either. But as I just re-read, Lawrence High only has senior prom, and both girls are juniors, so maybe they are just playing dress up for the article...?

Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

MomOfThree wrote:"Jason, get a clue.It's not obvious she is "advertising." Dresses like that have been around for years."I have scoured my OP and I see no reference of my saying that "the dress in the picture is new as of 2008, never before been worn by mankind", or anything close to that.People are shallow if the extent of their "worries" is whether someone's going to wear the same dress. I've seen 16 yr-olds in the hospital battling Cystic Fibrosis and wondering if they'll even graduate, toddlers with inoperable brain tumors and no way they'll live to see Kindergarten. This is about perspective and youth have lost all perspective -- this same perspective problem applies to many adults as well, but this article was about high schoolers and their intense, fingernail-biting angst as they sit huddled in the corner wondering if another person is going to show up in their dress. (Cue up the broadcaster from the Hindenburg disaster -- "Ah the humanity! The Humanity!")

bearded_gnome 9 years, 12 months ago

jason does have a point, even if he is a little crude at it. our society is far far more sexualized than it used to be. children are given clothes that are too revealing. many people call this the "pornification" of our culture. even many christians which preach the gospel fail to encourage young women to dress more modestly. and they fail in teaching young men to come away from the sexualization in this culture.

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 12 months ago

Don't worry, Jason. In a few years, you'll be old enough to go to prom, too. Hopefully you'll have a much more mature outlook by then.

imastinker 9 years, 12 months ago

I didn't think Jason was crude in making his point, and it's a very good point to be made too. My duaghter is kind of young for these kind of arguments, but she wouldn't be allowed out of the house in a dress like the girl on the left.My house, MY rules.

JoRight 9 years, 12 months ago

I don't really see why everyone is dogging on Jason. I know if my daughter wore a dress like that to prom, I wouldn't be exactly thrilled. I think there is a combination of ways to be sexy without having your fun bags pouring out all over the place; none of which have to do with being christian, or jewish, or islamic or agnostic etc etc.But I guess if my daughter didn't have much to offer in the way of personality, wealth or fame, then I'd encourage such attire.

Marty_McFly 9 years, 12 months ago

I hope that my band "The Pinheads" will be able to play at the prom this year. I might be elsewhere....

JoRight 9 years, 12 months ago

Rammy,Your trolling is not so hilarious and obviously you had a hard time catching sarcasm at the end of my post. On your next troll, please be more creative.All I was trying to get at is there are ways to dress sexy without dressing "slutty." I'm no feminist my any stretch of the imagination, but, I do know is that this "dressing sexier" trend is only perpetuating the objectification of women (which is another bag of worms).

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

Jason,Here is what you said - 'that dress is something I'd expect to see on the red carpet shows for the Oscars, not at a High School prom:." and I said the dress has been at proms for years. Yes, there are more important things in life, but if the newspaper didn't run some non-issue stories every once in a while, it would become too down to read. Your assessment that people are shallow because they worry about dresses is not quite correct. When people buy THE dress for a specific event like the prom, they worry about if someone else will wear that dress. It happens. It's one event in their young life, and if they want to worry about their dress, to keep from worrying about other things, then let them. No skin off my teeth or yours.

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

I wouldn't say the girl is dressing slutty. She could just be wearing it for the picture. A little low cut for me, and I wouldn't necessarily approve of my daughter wearing it either, but don't know if it necessitates a personal attack on the girl, as others appear to be doing.

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

It's prom season, and the newspaper is writing a story about prom dresses. GO figure.

sweet_child 9 years, 12 months ago

mom_of_threeIt is a senior prom but seniors can invite non-seniors.The girl in the picture didn't chose that dress, the article says she is looking for a yellow ball-gown silhoutte.Nobody is saying this is the extent of their worries. Just because they have this one worry doesn't mean they don't think about other things. Can any of us really say we've never had some trivial worry like this?

Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 12 months ago

Objectification of women or kids having fun? Besides, have ya'll seen what some of these kids wear to school? This is likely more clothes than they usually wear!And yes, I will acknowledge that Jason does have a point. However, given his example of the sick children, have you ever asked them what they would wish for? How many of those sick kids would wish to go to their Prom, or the Orange Bowl, or shoot hoops with Brandon Rush? I think the error here is in thinking that kids need to consider the weight of every single decision they make, when in actuality they should be relieved of these burdens until they are adults. There's plenty of time for them to consider the objectifcation of women or the fuel crisis, but there's also plenty of time for them to devote to the silly things in life that deliver simple pleasures, like getting dressed up for Prom. Reading too much into what they're wearing is just an exercise in futility.

Confrontation 9 years, 12 months ago

I think it's a good idea when schools set up strict guidelines for prom attire. Seriously, who needs to show her belly button at the prom? Is a two-piece dress a good idea? What happened to showing class rather than a**? Check out these dresses:

sharper 9 years, 12 months ago

My daughter would NOT be allowed out of the house in that dress.

Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

CoachEric: I'm not saying that kids need the burdens of an adult at 16 or 17. I believe kids should be kids as long as they 17 the kids are about to be introduced to an imperfect world and they will need a perspective in order to make it. If a young adult has the perspective that the world revolves around them and that the most important things are centered on materialism and who's doing what to me then we as parents have failed them. They're not prepared for what they will face.My oldest daughter is 10 and I am trying to gently introduce these concepts to her -- not to steal her innocence or make her see the world for how jaded and evil it is -- but I'm trying to give her perspective. When she gets all bent out of shape and upset because a friend said something mean about her, I will listen, reinforce how many people who love her think differently and then I might share a story from my clinical rotations in Pediatrics at KU Med about a child who was going through chemotherapy but always had a smile on his face and wanted to do nothing but enjoy life, regardless of what it threw his way. It's all about perspective and I believe that kids today are....well, spoiled little brats who have absolutely no sense of what really matters.

Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

Yes, I do protest....I only have influence and control over my family not others but I do protest.

Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 12 months ago

I understand Jason, but I must respectfully disagree. I agree that perspective is often missing from today's youth, but sometimes a dress is just a dress, a cigar is just a cigar...And if you will permit me to don my "amateur psycologist" hat for a moment, I find some contradiction in your posts. I read your latest post, about your daughter being upset about someone saying something mean to or about her, and how you deal with that by countering with how many people love her and so on. But my perceived contradiction comes from juxtaposing that admirable thought process with your first post, where you seem to be (must as your 10 year-old in your example?) so upset by the plunging necklines, risk of STDs, or pregnancy. I think maybe we just have different ideas on how to deliver "perspective." Maybe you just need to look for the good, instead of the bad. And there's plenty of bad out there that you can use as an example, I just don't think that girls worrying about their prom dresses qualifies.

Confrontation 9 years, 12 months ago

Thanks for sharing your uninteresting opinion, frankiej65.

KU_Dude 9 years, 12 months ago

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Tony Kisner 9 years, 12 months ago

Good lord, get your picture taken and in the paper = opening up your life to all kinds of ridicule?Look out kids, frustrated adults looking to take your youth away any time they can.

sharper 9 years, 12 months ago

Actually Multidisciplinary, I'm upset about women's swimming suits too. It's not like I want to wear a burkha when I go swimming, but swimsuits shouldn't be like swimming in your underwear (or even less). And that goes for adults or teenagers. And any adult who puts their little girl in a bikini seriously needs to evaluate what kind of message they're sending to their children. But I could rant about that all day...

staff04 9 years, 12 months ago

I worked in a bar a few years ago that had a fruity martini that had pop rocks candy on the rim...we called it the Prom Dress.

kfcwar 9 years, 12 months ago

Girl on the left has good grades in tough classes.

gemini 9 years, 12 months ago

Wow. I'm in my 30's, but I still remember what it was like to be a teenager and want to look pretty for prom. And both girls in the picture do look lovely and are having fun playing dress up. It is just sad that many "adults" come to this forum to ridicule and judge these teenagers.

acg 9 years, 12 months ago

Everyone has something to say about how teens dress today and how inappropriate it is, but when I look around, every teen I see is dressed the same way so obviously ya'll either don't really have a problem with it, or you aren't watching your kids very well. My mom used to do surprise inspections at school. You never knew when they were coming, she'd just show up to check out your attire and make up and if it wasn't appropriate, she'd beat the holy hell out of you right in the hall. I was 14 on my first surprise inspection. She busted me wearing 2 inches of black eye liner and my best friends mini skirt and boy did I get it. I never failed a surprise inspection again. My sister didn't learn so well. She was humiliated by the hallway ass-beating on more than one occasion. Anyway, I don't think the dresses are that risque. The one on the left could have more covering the breast department, but let's not kid ourselves here. She's 17 and she has breasts. A lot of our mothers were married with kids by her age, right? Let's talk about another serious problem amongst our teenaged girls. Mothers out there, especially, should talk to their girls about belly shirts. Belly shirts with low rider pants combo, whereas they're trashy garments and aren't really appropriate, the kids are going to wear them anyway. However, this combo should be worn by very slim girls only. So, mothers, please, just so I don't have to spend another spring/summer season being grossed out, if your kid is a chubbo, please take away her belly shirts and low rider pants. She looks nasty.

hawklet21 9 years, 12 months ago

acg, what's wrong with a little muffin top? :)

gemini 9 years, 12 months ago

You're quite the comedian, Shatt! I can appreciate your sarcasm and attempt at humor, but it seems to be coming from a very dark place. Some girl must've really broken your poor little heart once upon a time. Sorry, but not all females are wired like the cast of Mean Girls.

Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

Original_Bob: This isn't about me and it's not about you....get over yourself. Comment on the topic and provide some intellectual insight or don't comment at all...

salad 9 years, 12 months ago

I think she looks like a million bucks. Wear the dress honey, wear the dress.

pace 9 years, 12 months ago

jason is still smarting from being dumped for buying a plastic corsage for his prom date.i never cared about the prom but now wish i had an excuse to wear this slinky red silk number somewhere.

supercowbellninja 9 years, 12 months ago

what's with all the anger on this thread???This is a story about buying senior prom dresses, and instead it seems many angry commenters will use this as an open forum to deride just what is wrong with us as a society. I agree that some of these girls don't have the perspective on prom as would a hospitalized teenager with who knows how long to live, but why count that against them? I would bet that the ones who count duplicate dresses as their bigeest woe now will look back on that mindset in a few years and laugh about it since they will all be older and more mature.For now, let them have their day and enjoy it. I'm sure we all have a prom story worth remembering or telling. These are some of the best days of a teenager's life, so let em enjoy it. In a few years they can all be angry, bitter, pessimistic adults, but for now, I say let them have their day and lay off.

moo 9 years, 12 months ago

Wow, shatt, you must not actually have any experience with women or girls considering that you just pulled that stereotype off of Laguna Beach. I'm sorry, I know very few women who actually act like that. When it does happen, I believe it is a result of a culture that trains women that they are one another's enemies. We are taught from a young age to simply see other females and competition. It's pretty sick, but luckily you don't have to look hard to find women who reject that nonsense. Too bad shatt has to pull from pop culture stereotypes because of what I'm guessing is a complete lack of personal contact with women.

moo 9 years, 12 months ago

Prom was fun. I am a bit curious about this book though. Weavers carries pretty much the same dresses as every other department store. I remember seeing a lot of the same dresses in KC when I looked years ago. Seems to me like a lot of girls are still going to show up in identical puffy, princess dresses.

Jason Bailey 9 years, 12 months ago

SuperCowBell wrote: "I agree that some of these girls don't have the perspective on prom as would a hospitalized teenager with who knows how long to live, but why count that against them?"Because they're superficial and a pale reflection of The Hills. We've raised a crop of kids where egocentricism reigns supreme -- nothing matters except them. Why comment on this? Because it affects society in an adverse way.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 12 months ago

You know that is exactly what is going thru their minds in that picture. They're women.--shattWHOA! lots of women don't fit this description. and yes there are some guys who do talk about other guys behind their backs. *no, not picking on the girls. I am critical of our society. and if you're wanting kids to have a childhood, then postpone the sex, the sexy clothes, etc.there was recently word of a corporation developing a padded bra for seven year olds. this is what I have been writing about our culture is not letting kids have their childhood. kids are allowed to dress far too revealing or overtly sexual. and we know the implication intended by baggy pants. prom is important for kids to have a good time. on my prom I had lobster for the first time, at a very fancy restaurant in monterey. my date and I had a very good time. and, oh, though i certainly wasn't a christian then, there was no sex. her dress covered everything and was very pretty. I was proud to take her to the prom. we had a great time. then we had breakfast with some others at another restaurant in monterey. yes, we were up all night but we danced and talked.

supercowbellninja 9 years, 12 months ago

Jason: Heaven forbid you actually get to know any of these individuals before passing judgment on their character/values/morals/etc....That's some unfair and unfounded criticism from you, pal. I think people like you "affect society in an adverse way" by leaping to conclusions based on broad generalizations and stereotypes.Stay classy!

swhite 9 years, 12 months ago

I feel sorry for these girls. They were out having fun, dressing up and looking pretty. And some of you want to put them down. Hopefully these girls were raised as my senior was. Tonot listen to anyone with negative comments. There is only one judge and we all will face Him in the end. My daughter will be going to prom this year and we just went dress shopping a couple of weekends ago. It was so much fun and brought back so many memories. Not all girls and guys go to prom to have sex some are taught to save themselves for marriage. Stop being so negative and let the kids enjoy themselves.Proud mom of a senior..

swhite 9 years, 12 months ago

multi: I will pray you never have children. Not all kids are bad and I'm not saying my is a goody two shoes, but we have a very close relationship and I would never expect to find a note like that in her room. My daughter has a much better head on her shoulders to do anything that you are suggesting. No I'm not being blind, I was once a teenager and did many things my parents never asked about. I was never open with my parents, my kids can tell me anything. You can't ruin this for me or my daughter, she is awesome. You just look at everything in a negative manner. I've read many of your comments, most are negative or you're just trying to make be mad. Not me. I'm very proud of my daughter and trust her completely.

swhite 9 years, 12 months ago

I let my daughter see what you wrote and she laughed. She said nobody writes notes anymore they just text each other.

righthand 9 years, 12 months ago

The LJW obviously put the picture in to be provocative. There is no other possibility. Honestly, does anyone really think it is at all innocent?

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

Thanks to whomever let me know about the senior prom can invite non-seniors. There are different rules everywhere. Shatt, Believe it or not, a lot of kids go to prom, without the intention of having sex. I have a senior daughter going to prom, and I am sure that is not her intention. She just started dating and has a good head of her shoulders, even though she doesn't always use it for schoolwork. We haven't went shopping yet, as I am busy with school, but hope to in the next week or so. I hope we can find a dress she likes, as she normally doesn't wear dresses. This is her first prom, with her first boyfriend, and her first formal dress.

vpete69 9 years, 12 months ago

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vpete69 9 years, 12 months ago

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hnorm 9 years, 12 months ago

It was sad for me to see all the adults who have made negative comments about a simple article about prom dresses. That could have had the effect of making those two girls feel terrible when this was supposed to be light-hearted, joyful and fun. It is a good thing they are both strong, independent, intelligent, level-headed high achieving young women who won't be affected by your silly ridicule. Let us be teenagers and enjoy the excitment of prom which for most of my friends is not an experience tied to any inappropriate activities. Teens do not need pessimism and negativity. I think any parent would agree that a high schoolers life can be stressful at times, we don't need your negativity, we need your support.

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

jason,if you think all the kids of today are spoiled brats who don't know what really matters, then you aren't moving in the right circles.

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