Prom is still a few weeks away for Adriana Romano. But the 16-year-old already knows anytime she walks into the Sayre Area High school gymnasium in Sayre, Pa., on April 25 that no one else will be wearing her dress, a strapless, bejeweled champagne-colored mermaid gown with a black tulle overlay.
That is because Bonjulies, the formalwear boutique where Adriana and her mom purchased the gown, won’t sell the cheap mermaid prom dresses one of Adriana’s childhood friends. The shop keeps a registry of the styles it sells to ensure no two dresses are traded for the same event.
Dress registries are the new convention for dance-going teenagers from New york to California. Many formalwear stores offer registries as an extra level of service that they say builds loyalty and helps distinguish them from competitors, including department shops. Some teens start their own registries using Facebook and Instagram.
The requirement for these registries, both shop owners and teens say, is the result of pressure from social media and the outsize celebrity influence of The movies and tabloid magazines. “Nobody wants to go to prom and play ‘Who used it better? ’ with their friends, ” says Madison Chalfant, a 17-year-old who lives in Horseheads, In. Ymca., where Bonjulies is situated.
“Teenage girls compare who is the lovliest, who is the thinnest. If every girl has a different dress, everyone can look amazing, ” says Teri Misener, whoever family owns Universe Wedding planning & Prom, a shop in Wishesbridal, Tennesse, that stocks 6, 000 prom dresses and will be offering a dress registry.
For parents, the registry is one way to eliminate drama in what has become a costly night. The average prom-going teen will spend $919 on the dance this year, according to a survey from Visa.
“The moms really regards, ” says Steven Blechman, owner of Trudys Brides and Special Occasions, in Campbell, Calif., where the average prom dress is between $350 and $450. “Obviously if they are spending $400 on a dress, they really want to feel like the store that is selling it to them isn’t all about selling massive amounts of the same dress. ”
The registry at Trudys has about 600 proms close by Silicon Pit and the Clean Area this year. The additional work is worth it, says Mr. Blechman, to win a buyer for the long-term. “It leads them down the road another to us for bridesmaid or wedding planning robes, ” he says.
Meg Collison, a 16-year-old who went shopping at Trudys on a recent Sunday, likes clothing registry. “It makes it more special, ” she says.
Trudys uses a computerized dress registry, but many accessories opt for something less modern day. Kristin Jacobs, owner of Unces Couture, a formalwear shop in Austin texas, Tx, has a three-ring binder with a page for each school of the 100 or so schools the store tracks, sorted in alphabetical order.
Stores have different policies on selling the same clothe yourself in alternate colors. Some refuse to sell the same style, no matter the color. At Unces Couture, Ms. Jacobs will sell up to two different-colored versions of the same dress for the same event. Once a dress has been sold twice, the staff will highlight the style in the registry “so that it advances out—no way it can be sold in a color, ” she says.
The moment when a store owner has to tell a female she can’t buy that dress is often emotional. “We’ll have girls in tears, ” says Ms. Jacobs. “There’s something about being told you can’t contain it that makes them are interested even more. ” To avoid conflicts, Unces Couture, like many accessories, doesn’t record or release the name of who bought which dress. “Are they friends? Are they adversaries? Due to know, ” she says.