Dress distress: Seniors search for perfect prom dress

Kennedi+Bickham%2C+a+senior%2C+makes+her+way+through+a+store%2C+looking+for+her+perfect+dress.+She+chose+to+get+her+dress+at+a+speciality+store+in+suburban+Aurora+called+Wolsfelts.

Chloe Ma

Kennedi Bickham, a senior, makes her way through a store, looking for her perfect dress. She chose to get her dress at a speciality store in suburban Aurora called Wolsfelt’s.

An Ngo, City Life Editor

As Kennedi Bickham walks out of the dress shop’s fitting room, a hush of awe falls over the room. She’s beaming; she knows this is “the” dress. After rummaging through countless racks of dresses, stressing over whether she would ever find her perfect dress, this feeling of her prom-induced anxiety being lifted off her shoulders could be described as a near-religious sensation of fulfillment. 

Not only are some seniors shopping for a dress they love, they’re searching for “the” single perfect dress. Because of the stress that comes with prom dress shopping, when students do find their dress, a weight is lifted.

As of early May, senior Sophie Volchenboum hadn’t found her prom dress yet and anticipated a difficult time choosing.

“Once you’re narrowing it down, like if you have like three dresses you like, it’s hard to know if you’re picking it because you like it or if it’s because you think other people will like it.”

Sophie feels the pressure of prom, even after attending one last year.

“There’s a lot. There’s, like, always a lot riding on prom night. Like, you want to have the best prom night ever. It’s a whole thing,” Sophie said. “There’s so many stereotypes around what prom night should be that it’s like you feel like you should have a certain type of prom night.”

Senior Zoe Morton went looking for dresses at department stores Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s but said she didn’t find any she liked. 

“They weren’t the best quality and, like, the color and like the designs were really weird,” Zoe said.

After directing her search online, she found one dress she liked, but when it came it didn’t fit the way she wanted. Because of that, she’ll have to tailor it. 

Sophie said she doesn’t want to order her dress online because she’s worried it won’t fit properly. She feels that for people like her with nonstandard measurements, it’s especially difficult to shop online.

A lot of people are going online, and I don’t feel like I have the body proportions to always be safe.”

— Sophie Volchenboum

“A lot of people are going online, and I don’t feel like I have the body proportions to always be safe,” Sophie said.

Last year, Sophie bought her dress from Macy’s but has noticed that her classmates have been shopping at specialty dress shops around Chicago.

“I went to Macy’s because I don’t even know these, like, small boutiques,” Sophie said.

Peaches Boutique, a specialty dress store located at 5915 S. Archer Ave. on Chicago’s Southwest side near Midway International Airport, claims to be one of, if not the, largest prom dress stores in the country. It’s gone viral on social media for its endless stock of flashy, glittery dresses. 

Depending on the day, visiting Peaches can be a hectic experience. Kennedi went there to find a dress but was unsuccessful.

“I went on a weekday, so I had 45 minutes to try things on, but they were really pressuring me to, like, buy something there, and it wasn’t like me,” Kennedi said. “And I just didn’t really like it.”

Kennedi finally found her dress at Wolsfelt’s in west suburban Aurora. She said she preferred her experience at Wolsfelt’s because it was less stressful. Her parents were able to sit down, and she was able to take her time.

When she tried on her dress, she knew it was the one. 

“Everyone just gasped when I came out,” Kennedi said. “And I just felt like, ahhhh — angel noises, you know.”