Shop Talk

SHOP TALK: The Prom Edition with Erica Wark

On Caroline: Le Chateau dress $129.99, Walmart sandals $19.99, Caroline's own earrings; on Delaney: Marshall's dress $24.99, The Shoe Company pumps $89.99, Ardene earrings $7.50, The Shoe Company clutch $24.99. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters.

Shop Talk is written by OM senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, OM account executive and fashion maven.

Yes, it’s that time again: prom! Whether you are going yourself, have a son or daughter counting down the days, or just want to relive the joy (and pain) of this teenage rite of passage, this week SHOP TALK talks to stylist Erica Wark about all things prom.

Erica is fresh off a media tour with VISA, who launched a free app called Plan’it Prom. The app aims to keep prom-goers (and their financiers) on budget by monitoring spending. Perhaps the most crucial part is the first step: a set budget. The app then manages all prom-related items, allotting a dollar amount for transportation, photos, etc.

All to say Erica has been in the trenches of prom planning for the past few weeks. Here’s what she has to say about traditions, trends, and money-saving tips.

On Delaney: Envied "Supertrash" dress, $310, The Shoe Company pumps $69.99, Le Chateau earrings $18, Le Chateau bracelets $25; On Caroline: Marshall's dress $49.99, The Shoe Company pumps $79.99, Le Chateau bracelet $18. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters

SHOP TALK: What are the big trends for prom 2013?
Erica Wark: Embellishment is everywhere this prom season; try it with jewels, lace overlay or even applique. For colours, I love cobalt blues, bold tangerines and corals, or softer hues like mint and sea foam, blush and off-white. In terms of hem length my advice is do what works for you; if you’ve got great legs show them off with a shorter dress; if you’re looking for uber-glam, go long! You can even do the high-low hem, and have the best of both!

For guys, it’s an easy choice — go with a tux. A classic black and white look in a slimmer fit with a bowtie is right on trend this spring.

ST: If you were going to prom this year, what would you wear?
EW: Haha, oh to be young again. There are so many more options now than there were 10 years ago. I’d probably do a fabulous long dress in a bold colour with cut-out or sheer paneled details a-la-Rihanna.

ST: What did you wear to prom?
EW: I actually designed my own dress; picked out the fabrics, drew a sketch, and sat down with my cousin (who used to design and teach at Richard Robinson) to create something unique and special to me. Recently, I’ve gone back and looked at pictures, and I gotta say I still love the dress I wore to prom.

ST:When you think back to your own prom experience, what would you do differently if you had the chance?

On Delaney: Le Chateau dress $150, Le Chateau earrings $9.95, The Shoe Company pumps $79.99; on Caroline: Poised Terani Couture $405, Call it Spring sandals $50, Le Chateau earrings $22. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters.

EW: I honestly don’t think I’d do anything different. My friends and I had such a wonderful time.  We all split costs to pitch in for a limo, my girlfriends came over beforehand and we did each other’s makeup and nails, so we really had the full prom experience, without spending a crazy amount of money.

ST: How do you think prom has changed over the years? Why?
EW: Prom has gotten a little bit out of control in terms of spending; some people take it as seriously as their wedding day! It’s such an exciting time of year for teens and can easily get off track of how much money is being spent. That’s why it’s so important for parents to take this opportunity to sit down with their kids and discuss money management. After prom and graduation, teens are going to either be heading off to college or university and the workforce, where they’ll have to make big decisions on their spending; prom is the perfect time for parents to discuss and instill valuable budgeting lessons on their children.

ST: If you were going to splurge on one part of the prom experience, what would it be?

On Delaney: Envied "supertrash" dress $147, Marshall's pumps $69.99, Ardene earrings $7.50, Marshall's clutch $39.99; on Caroline: Poised dress $257.50, Call It Spring sandals $50, Le Chateau earrings $22. Click on photo for more images. Photo by Eric Watters.

EW: I would say your splurge should be the dress (or in a rental tux for guys). But splurging doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money. It’s all about what budget you’re working with. That’s why the Plan’it Prom app is so great — it keeps you on track and monitors your spending. And you can sync it with your Facebook and take pics of the dresses you want to get — that way you’ll know for sure someone else won’t be wearing the same one!

The event really is only one day, and it goes quickly – but pictures and memories? You’ll have those forever and you want to make sure you felt confident, beautiful (or handsome) and had a great time.
All photos by Eric Watters. All styling by Erica Wark. Thanks to models Delaney and Caroline Holley.