Prom looks this season pass up sweet in favor of sophistication

May 08, 1991|By Mary Gottschalk | Mary Gottschalk,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Prom 1991 is synonymous with sophistication.

Gone are those corny looks such as wearing tennis shoes with your tux or costume-like Southern deb dresses with hoop skirts. Guys are going for classic black tuxedos or the James Bond look spotless white dinner jackets with black tuxedo pants. Girls are opting for dresses with lots of "S"-appeal short, strapless, sizzling.

You want your prom to be as special as it can be. To help, we've consulted with designers, manufacturers, retailers and magazine editors to find out about what's in and what's out:

GOWN GAB Your prom dress is simply the most important outfit for the most important night of the year right? Right.

Few adults understand this as well as Carlotta Khero, designer for Los Angeles-based New Leaf, which manufacturers and sells more than 10,000 prom dresses a year. Khero has designed prom gowns since 1983 and says the looks for 1991 are markedly different.

"Cocktail dressing is the in thing. Traditional prom dresses have started to look a bit babyish. At proms this year you'll see a lot of body-conscious cocktail dresses, like you might see on adults at a country club. Strapless is still the first criterion and black is the No. 1 color," Khero says.

Renee Pestana, fashion coordinator for Brass Plum at Nordstrom, agrees dresses "are taking a much more sophisticated turn. Lengths are definitely shorter and skirts are straight or full and above the knee. Black-and-white combinations are hot and you have peach pastels, bright jewel ** tones and pink is everywhere."

Khero and Pestana both believe finding the perfect dress should be fun. Here are some tips for making the search more pleasure than pain, culled from prom experts as well as editors at Seventeen, Sassy and Your Prom magazine:

* Set a budget. If your parents are buying your dress, agree in advance how much you can spend.

* Have an idea what you're looking for short or long, strapless or off-the-shoulder. It's better to discuss your ideas in advance with your parents than to suffer a scene later.

* If something interests you, try it on. Some dresses have no "hanger appeal" but turn out to be dynamite once you get them on.

* Talk to your friends and see what styles they're planning to wear. If everyone else is wearing short, you may want to go long to look different.

* Shop with a friend who will be honest about how you look. Appreciate that honesty.

* Don't forget how important the right lingerie is, especially if you're wearing a strapless gown for the first time. And once you decide on the perfect pair of hosiery, buy a spare pair.

L * Break in those new shoes by wearing them around the house.

TUX TALK Bart Willner knows the ups of cummerbund pleats "always up." knows the downs of wing collars "tucked behind the bow tie." He knows what's in "shawl lapel double-breasted jackets." And he knows what's out "colored tuxedos."

As manager of the tuxedo rental of Eli Thomas Menswear in San Jose, Willner expects to see more than 1,500 tuxedos go and come back during this year's prom season. Here's his advice:

* Plan ahead. Reserve your tuxedo at least two weeks before the prom to assure you get exactly what you want.

* Shop around. Compare prices and styles. You're paying for a sharp look and good service.

* Know what color and style dress your date is wearing, in case you want to coordinate your bow tie and cummerbund.

* Find out what your friends are wearing so you'll feel comfortable with your choice.

* Try on the tuxedo so there are no surprises.

* Know exactly when the tuxedo must be returned so you can avoid additional costs. If you've got other plans for after the prom, arrange to have a friend or family member return your tuxedo. And check those pockets before you turn in the suit.

Prom Primer


Short lengths

Strapless gowns


Straight skirts

Black or white or both

Bright, jewel colors

Pink pastel or hot


Black tuxedos

White dinner jackets

Wing-collar tux shirts

White tux shirts

Mineral water

French cuffs


Little girl looks

Hoop petticoats

Tea-length dresses

Sneaks with gowns

Mom's fur coat

Colored tuxedos

Ruffled shirts

White tails

Liquor and drugs

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