Where to Buy a Prom Dress

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Options for high schooler's prom dress

May 2011

Would you please tell me where can I find a prom dress for my 16 years old grand daughter. I live in Oakland, ca but am willing to go to san francisco, ca. She needs her dress by this weekend. Thank You

forever 21, Macy's, Nordstrom, Bebe, Marshals, Sway on Telegraph, Nordstrom Rack..... Meg

My daughter got her prom dress at a thrift store in the Mission. Kids do find interesting things at thrift/vintage places (Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley, Mission/Valencia Str. in SF, Haight in SF)

Here are some thrift/vintage places for more adventurous girls:
Berkeley and Oakland: Mercy (on Piedmont) Pretty Penny (College) Urbanity (Solano) Bella Vita (College) Mars Mercantile (Telegraph) Crossroads (Multiple locations) Haight Street: Wasteland Static Held Over La Rosa Buffalo Exchange Mission/Valencia: Thrift Town Clothes Contact Painted Bird
Otherwise, from cheapest to more expensive, here's where her friends have found dresses:
Target 1555 40th Street, Emeryville or: 1057 Eastshore Frontage Road, Albany, CA Nordstrom Rack 1285 Marina Boulevard, San Leandro, CA or 555 9th Street, San Francisco, CA Jessica McClintock/Gunne Sax Outlet 1400 16th Street San Francisco, CA 94103-5110 (415) 553-8390 Macy's (Walnut Creek, SF) Nordstrom (ditto)
Good luck! Natasha

Where can I get a recycled prom dress?

March 2007

Are there any resale/consignment shops in the East Bay that might carry a decent selection of prom-type dresses? My daughter wants a salsa-style dance dress for her prom, and has picked out something online that is pretty and reasonably priced, but the fabric looks kind of tacky, and I'd like her to at least inspect something more elegant. (I've looked at Goodwill and Out of the Closet, and will keep checking there.) Melanie

How about Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange, Mars, Rockridge Rags, or on Solano Ave there's a consignment shop? There's another ''vintage'' clothing store on Telegraph just past Dwight near Fondue Fred's, maybe one of those might have something fun? anon

Prom dress options that are a little more exciting

March 2001

My daughter is going to the junior prom and we need to find a dress. She is not interested in the JC Penney or Sears type options and is looking for something a little more exciting. Any clues where to look would be much appreciated. If the location is obscure - please help with directions!! Thanks, Kathy

Try Jessica mcClintock in SF, its on Union square. Easy BART access and beautiful dresses. C

I think finding a prom dress is a matter of luck. My daughter got lucky at Nordstroms in Walnut Creek on our first attempt to find a dress. Good luck to you! Louise

Last year I took my daughter shopping for her Jr. Prom dress. We went out to Macy's at the Sun Valley Mall in Concord because they were having a BIG sale. Well, it was a mad house!!! We then decided to just take a peek at JC Penney never expecting to find anything there. Much to our surprise, we found the perfect dress. My daughter is EXTREMELY picky and very much into fashion, hair, make-up, etc.

It's already time to shop for her Sr. Ball dress. She and a friend went to the Jessica McClintock Boutique in SF. She loved the selection they had. She found a dress that she liked but they didn't have her size. The next week she went to Macy's and discovered that Macy's carries Jessica McClintock and they had the dress she wanted. Needless-to-say we bought it! I suggest you check out the website: www.jessicamcclintock.com. It's a good way to see what they have and you can also get directions to their boutique. Good luck! Vicki

Try the Gunne Sax outlet in South San Francisco. They have the most wonderful fancy, beautiful dresses at reasonable (considering the retail price) prices. You'll need to call for directions or look on the internet. Toby

You can buy very nice and trendy prom dresses at the Jessica McClintock Factory Warehouse in SF. It has been a few years since I was there, so you should check your telephone directory and call for times they are open, directions etc. If they are still open, they are the greatest place to get dresses for proms. Low prices and a scream to use the gang dressing rooms with prom dresses flying! I have also seen a few very nice dresses at Ross!

Also at Berkeley High it has been a tradition to borrow dresses from older girls and even their mothers, if they have a very nice vintage dress from the 60's -- way cool! --Anon

Delia's Spring catalog has lots of prom-type dresses ($100-$200). Delia's is great because of the range of sizes available, 1/2 through 19/20. I've bought several things from them for my daughter and they are prompt, we usually get ordered items within 7 days (faster shipping options are available), and are excellent with returned items. You can order directly from their website at: www.delias.com and/or order their catalog. Good luck! Miyoko

There are several outlets in SF that are good for finding prom dresses. One is the Gunne Sax/Jessica McClintock outlet on a little alley way that runs from Brannan and Townsend, between 2nd and 3rd in the SOMA area. There are at least 2 bridal outlets in the same general area where you can also find bridesmaids dresses that work well as prom dresses: one is on 6th right above Brannan (across from the flower mart), another is on 2nd right below Brannan. Outlets close or move frequently, but you should have success with at least one of these (Gunne Sax/Jessica McClintock has been there for YEARS).

I am assuming you are looking to not spend a fortune. There are TONS of places in SF where unique dresses can be found, but they are more pricey. There are also lots of other outlets in the South of Market area which will have more sophisticated choices. Check out Sally Soccolich's Bargain Hunting in the Bay Area - found at most book stores for like $15. Another option is to go to the fabric outlet at around 1600 Harrison in Oakland (or on 3rd at Bryant in SF) and make it or have it made. GOOD LUCK!! Laura

So far my daughter and I have had reasonably good luck in two stores: the junior department at Macy's ( we've done well at the one in Walnut Creek although it is much smaller than at their big store in San Francisco) and American Eagle Outfitters in the San Francisco Center mall (Market and 5th Street). We found very reasonably priced dresses at all three locations. Another place where I have spotted a good (though less teen-oriented) selection at good prices is the Limited store chain. Best of luck! Laura

Prom Dresses -- This is the 4th time I have gone prom shopping. All I can say is, it isn't easy. Everyone is out. Dressing room waits can be painful. A large factor is how much you want to spend. Each year I find it is more that I thought I would have to spend. I usually up what I am willing to spend because finding a dress you like, that fits, is rare. And I hate shopping. I figure by the time we take BART or drive somewhere and spend a half day at it, that it is worth something! So I tend to end up spending more because we both end up more satisfied with the experience.

If you are talking about the full-length variety of dress, this is the best advice I can offer : Macy's in SF seems to be the most extensive collection. There are some dresses in Juniors and the rest in the dress department. Both departments are on the 4th flr. Nordstrom's has a few. Jessica McClintock has a lot. This is at the corner of stockton and Geary. It is on the 4th flr. The windows are visible from the street but the entrance is most obscure. The first entrance on Geary, you walk into an elevator on the left and press 4. No signs. A couple of times we got dresses out at the Sun Valley Shopping Mall. The macy's there was good and there was another store that had many formal dresses. The name began with a G. I can't remember the full name and I don't know if it is still there. We last shopped there 4 years ago.

We always used to go to the Jessica McClintock outlet which may still be around. We never found anything. What we saw there was always much to fussy and at least a year or a season out of date.

As for shoes--- Brass Plum at Nordstrom. We usually get something that looks good, dressy and is $40-$60. We haven't had much luck in some of the less expensive stores but that may have to do with stock, fit, etc. (PS- my comments on large availability are based on shopping two weeks ago. I don't know if they keep replenishing the stock.) Merle

For the last 2 years, my daughter has found glorious vintage dresses in the used clothing stores on Telegraph Ave and has then had minor alterations done. Guarantees a unique look for a fraction of the usual price! Bridget