Sparktacular Prom

A special trunk show at the VanCleve Collection’s Paoli boutique reveals this season’s hottest prom gown trends.

A VanCleve prom model poses with NBC 10’s Lu Ann Cahn during a recent "10! Show" appearance.A girl never forgets her senior prom gown. Mine was straight-cut, bright fuchsia dress with a slit up the front, an open back and diamond accents on cap sleeves. It was just hot enough for my more conservative taste, but left enough to the imagination—which was exactly what my mother had in mind. So when I see what girls are wearing to prom nowadays (think red-carpet sophisticated and much more skin-revealing), I feel like my beloved mid-1990s gown might as well have had long sleeves and a turtleneck.

I visited Deborah VanCleve, owner of the VanCleve Collection, at her Paoli boutique last week as she and her staff were preparing for “Promapalooza,” a trunk show of this season’s latest styles that ends March 5. For the past 25 years, VanCleve has been the go-to boutique on the Main Line for cocktail attire, black-tie gowns and mother-of-the-bride/groom dresses. Since she opened the Wedding Pavilion right next door a few years ago, she has become a trusted resource for brides. But VanCleve also caters to the younger set, having sold prom gowns for the past 10 years.

“Prom is very good for us,” says VanCleve, who hopes to get clients for life once they buy their prom gowns from her. “We can take them through every major event in their life.”

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VanCleve did a run-through of this year’s hottest prom trends with me (see below), and I must admit that there were quite a few I had my eye on. (Looks like I need to get a black-tie affair on my calendar a.s.a.p.)

High & Low
This gown is miniskirt short in the front but long and flowy in the back. Not convinced? Neither was I until I saw it in person. This dress offers the best of both worlds for the girl who wants to wear short, but also wants the glamour of a full-length gown. It’s a win-win.

Short & Sassy
Ditch the rules, girls. VanCleve says that prom dresses don’t have to be floor-length. She has a number of styles that are above the knee and adorable!

Let’s Sparkle
Some girls just love to rock the sequins and sparkly beads. Thankfully, there’s plenty to be had on gowns this season. These beauties are sure to turn heads.

Color, Color, Color
With the array of colors available this season, there’s no reason to stick to standard black. VanCleve has gowns in every color of the rainbow—and beyond—including bright yellow, turquoise, hot pink and orange. And if the belle of the ball insists on wearing black, VanCleve has that, too.

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Wild Watercolors
For those girls who are too indecisive to pick one solid color, here’s their best option. VanCleve has an array of bold watercolor-print dresses. In a word: gorgeous.

68 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli; (610) 647-5055,

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