This year's prom fashions run the gamut, from ballroom-gown fantasies that evoke images of a fairy tale to sleek, form-fitting numbers inspired by Hollywood's red-carpet glam.
"The majority of the stuff that's going out the door is kind of slinky," said Shirley Young, a sales representative with Bridal & Formal Gallery on Rock Hill's Charlotte Avenue. "These girls like stuff that's not really puffy or real full."
e, assistant manager with Bridal Place & Alterations on Celanese Avenue, sees the princess-style gown becoming more popular than in the past.
One trend many retailers seem to agree on is that prom shoppers are more cost-conscious this year.
"People are more careful about what they spend," said Richard McCluskey, owner of Song's Fashions on Main Street in downtown Rock Hill.
Pode agreed, saying economic concerns are sending some prom shoppers to bridal catalogs, where they can choose bridesmaid dresses, which run around $100 less than prom gowns.
"They're definitely watching their pennies," Pode said.
Pode said girls who pick less elaborate gowns are dressing up their look with accessories.
"If the dress is on the plain side, they go for blingy accessories, shoes, everything," she said. "There's a lot of bling on the shoes."
Savvy prom shoppers started early, when selection was greatest. Kourtney Edwards, 18, a senior at Rock Hill High School, started looking at Christmas and found her dress in January.
It's a black gown with a lacy look, a skin-colored underlay and a small train, Edwards said. "It's different," she said. "You don't see a lot of them like that."
Cristi McCoy, assistant manager with the Bridal & Formal Gallery, said bright colors still rule for the most part, although a few girls are choosing tones in brown, the new black.
And long dresses still prevail, she said. "Long is still the most popular, but you have a few girls who come in and they want a shorter dress," she said.
And Pode said many girls are taking their fashion cues from the red carpet. "They will come in saying so and so wore this dress, do you have anything like it," she said.
A few shoppers choose vintage prom looks from resale stores like Schoolhouse Exchange on Rock Hill's Herlong Avenue, which carries used prom dresses from $10 to around $40.
"Prom dresses have to be perfect, for the most part," said Sarah Alexander, one of the owners. "It really has to be in good shape for the prom."
Classic, timeless styles are usually the most popular choices, she said. "But there's a handful of people that are into funky '80s styles and older stuff," she said.
Vintage styles are also more likely to be a last-minute choice, with the couple going together on the idea, Alexander said. "If the girl wants to get a vintage dress, she might want the guy to go with something in the same time period."