The look on the girls’ faces is what Hannah Nichols enjoys most.
“My favorite part is just seeing their faces light up when they get to experience the boutique atmosphere,” said Nichols, communication director for the Junior Service League of Beaufort.
Since 2011, the Junior Service League of Beaufort has helped high school girls in the Lowcountry experience the magic of finding the perfect prom dress through its Prom Boutique.
This year the ninth annual JSLB Prom Boutique is 1-4 p.m. March 7 at the Beaufort-Jasper YMCA of the Lowcountry.
The boutique allows juniors and seniors in Beaufort, Jasper and Hampton county schools to shop for the perfect dress, jewelry and accessories for prom — all for free. The students are treated to a red-carpet experience: Not only do they have the opportunity to shop for dresses and accessories, but they each have a personalized stylist.
Last year, more than 50 local high school girls were able to have their Cinderella moments and find the dress of their dreams. Nichols said the goal this year is to accommodate 75 girls.
But the league needs a little help from the community to make these magical moments happen. The boutique is stocked with donations; dresses in all sizes and styles are accepted, though they must be clean and have no visible tears or stains. As of mid-February, the league had more than 300 dresses ready for the boutique. Accessories accepted include earrings, necklaces, bracelets, shawls and handbags. Shoes are not accepted.
According to promheadquarters.com, the online boutique of Dimitra Designs Bridal Emporium in Greenville, some of the trends for prom dresses this year include classic A-line gowns; mermaid dresses, which are tight until the knee, then flare out; and slinky and sequined dresses.
Those types of dresses and more might be found at the Prom Boutique.
“We have a great selection and we are very cognizant of trends,” Nichols said.
Nichols said she gets a thrill out of seeing a girl find her perfect dress. She recalls being the stylist for a girl with a “quirky personality.” The girl found a unique dress with a dragon print and instantly was enthralled.
“Her eyes lit up and it fit her like a glove,” Nichols said. “It feels rewarding when they find that dress that is obviously meant to be theirs.”
The league hopes that Prom Boutique makes the special night a little more affordable for area students. Between the cost of a dress and things like hair, nails, accessories and dinner out, prom runs families an average of $919, according to money.com. Taking the cost of the dress out of the equation can make it more manageable.
Nichols said donors are thrilled to be able to help make the evening special.
“Everyone I have gotten dresses from has been very excited,” she said. “Your dress goes out to help the community.”
Nichols said to shop at the boutique students need to bring their high school ID cards.
Donations of formal wear and accessories for the Prom Boutique can be dropped off at the following locations:
- Lux ~ A Medical Spa: 350 Fording Island Road, Suite 101, Bluffton
- Pink Magazine: 37 New Orleans Road, #M, Hilton Head Island
- Amazing Rentals: 352 Argent Blvd., Hardeeville
- The Beaufort Sound: 206 Sea Island Parkway, Suite 31, Lady’s Island — located in TideWatch
- Sugar Belle: 906 Boundary St., Beaufort
- Hobbit Hill: All Beaufort locations
- Kinghorn Insurance: 910 Carteret St., Beaufort