Pulse: How We Spend: Teens: Prom-o-Rama
Best for: Secondhand, current looks
Second Seitz is a thrift store with a large stockpile of recently reclaimed dresses — think Jessica McClintock, Mori Lee and ABS, as well as conservative options to meet dress-code needs. Make an appointment and get upbeat owner Pattienne’s full attention and on-site alterations. Prices range from $42 to $134. 4084 Skippack Pike, Skippack, 610-584-8117.
Best for: Red-carpet style
“Glam” is the best word to describe the selection of dresses at Sorella Boutique. From figure-flattering House of Deréon gowns (designed by Beyoncé’s mom) to elegant one-shoulder frocks from Dave & Johnny, these are the farthest thing from dull. Prices start at $199. 23 East State Street, Media, 610-566-2393, sorellashop.com.
Best for: Short dresses, super-affordable
Paoli has a new outpost of Cali chain Heavenly Couture, which buys in bulk, making prices so low (everything in the store is $17.95 or less) that you’ll probably have to read that twice. Anti-ball-gown girls will find short, strapless sequined numbers and knee-length snow-white drape-y dresses with a touch of West Coast irreverence. 33 Leopard Road, Paoli, 610-647-6474, getheavenly.com.
Best for: Feminine and trendy
From candy-colored floor-length options from Mignon to the detailed, flirty frocks of Sue Wong, Newtown Square’s Bedazzled Boutique is pure fun. Prices start at $250, and expert alterations are free. 218 South Newtown Street Road, Newtown Square, 610-359-1707, bedazzledboutique.com.
Best for: Bold trends, a range of sizes
Jan’s has a dizzying array of prom dresses, in more styles and sizes than you can dream of. While most tend toward the bold, patterned and floor-length, designers like ABS are here, too. Prices start at $200. Bonus: Get discounts on other goods like tuxes, limos, salons and corsages when you buy here. 406 Route 70, Cherry Hill, 856-428-8181, jansprom.com.
Best for: Style variety
Head to Newtown Square’s Elizabeth Maar and next-door sister store Just Girls for a guaranteed find: There are short ruffled dresses from Aidan Mattox, gowns from La Femme, and edgier designs from Marc Bouwer, to name a few. Prices start at $150. 3515 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-325-4204 and 610-325-3731.