Style Cover Stories

Primed for Prom: Distinctions

Flip to the ‘prom’ pages in any high school yearbook, and the first thing you’ll notice is how alike all the girls look, with tulle or satin formals in the 1950s through the ’70s, giving way to less structured looks in the ’80s and beyond. Every year, there’s usually one strong, overriding trend, be it pastels or jewel-tones, strapless or halter-necks, full skirts or mermaid dresses.

But times have changed. “There’s no single, ‘must-have’ trend for prom 2015,” says Nancy Lehtman of Distinctions, the upscale boutique that specializes in formalwear. “Anything goes: white or brights, long or short, romantic or sophisticated, soft chiffon or dramatic stretch jersey. There’s a look to suit every taste and personality, and we carry the entire gamut.”

In-demand looks include two-piece ensembles with bare midriffs, deep necklines held together with sheer nude nettings, cutouts, lace overlays, and glitzy, glamorous beading. The biggest changes from last year? “High necklines with open backs or mesh inserts are huge,” Lehtman notes. “We’re also seeing lots of black, which is unusual for prom.”

But ‘anything goes’ can go too far. “The popularity of online shopping can lead to fashion disasters,” Lehtman says. “It’s almost impossible to get a good fit when you order from a website. Maybe you’re a size 2 in one dress line and a size 6 in another. But a website doesn’t know that, and it won’t alter the dress if it doesn’t fit correctly. You can return it and request a different size, but there’s no guarantee they’ll have it in stock, or that it will arrive in time.”

Online shoppers tend to point and click on their favorite picture, without stopping to think whether a dress that looks great on a size zero model will work for them, Lehtman adds. “When you order online, no one tells you a style is wrong for you—and no one has the expertise to help you find something more flattering.” Some sites show photos of designer dresses and charge designer prices but ship the customer a cheap copy, she adds. “I’ve heard horror stories about fabric ripping and beading unraveling before the girls even get out of the limo,” she says. “But at Distinctions, what you see is what you get. We offer only the finest fabrics and workmanship, and we stand behind everything we sell.”

To get the right fit, you need expert attention from someone who understands how to make you look your best, Lehtman says. “At Distinctions, we have decades of experience when it comes to helping women look gorgeous, and our full-time seamstress alters each garment to perfection.” There’s no substitute for personalized service provided by experts. “If a dress doesn’t suit you, we’ll guide you to the right look. Girls won’t listen to their mothers,” she says with a grin. “But they listen to me!”

Photo: Tim Parker Photography
Pictured: Sophia Marusic and Ellie Krause

[Distinctions, located at 12354 Olive Blvd. in Westgate Shopping Center, features an array of on-trend dresses for prom 2015. The store offers extended hours during prom season, staying open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Prices range from $200 to $600. For more information, call 314.434.5445 or visit distinctionsprom.com.]

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