Graduation, a springtime rite of passage, is quickly approaching, and much like final exams, what to wear to the banquet and grad party is on many teenage minds.
“I’ve been looking for a dress since last year’s grad when most of my friends were shopping for their dresses,” said Breanne Windle, 17, who graduates from Hunting Hills High School, June 3.
The seasonal affair is bringing requests from young women who want to wear bright colours that make bold statements, said Janelle Leer, owner of Your Wedding Place, a busy graduation dress shop in Red Deer.
“I’ve gotten lots of girls asking for purple or pink dresses this year, I think it has to do with spring,” said Leer.
“Girls seem to like the beading because it makes the dress look more blinged-out and not so much like a typical dress.”
A recent graduation fund-raising fashion show at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School had male and female students parading in the finery from many local stores.
Male attire included black or white suits, top hats and fedoras.
Fashion for the young women included jewel-coloured, strapless gowns adorned with beads and sparkles.
Sherilyn Hunter, designer at Eternity Gowns in Sylvan Lake said in addition to beaded and sequins embellishments, many girls are asking for more refined fits.
“The princess look has got to go, that’s done,” Hunter said.
Hunter said the huge chiffon-stuffed dresses that have been popular for the past few years have fallen out of favour for the Hollywood glamour look (typically strapless and form-fitting with a dramatic flare that starts above the knee creating a “trumpet” or “mermaid” shape at the end).
“They’re copying what they see celebrities wearing at the Grammy Awards,” Hunter said.
Many of the latest Hollywood looks can be found online, and shopping for grad attire in the 21st century gives the modern teenager the ability to shop from a global selection.
Windle and her friends, Shannon Phelps and Don Nguyen at Hunting Hills, all bought their 2011 grad looks online.
“There’s just not that much selection in town, and everyone is going for unique things now . . . I started looking online at the start of the year,” said Phelps, who ordered her dress from New York City a few months ago.
Male grads seem to be following the lead of their dates and are choosing vibrant spring colours to accentuate their tuxedo or suit.
“I’ve been getting lots of questions about pink tuxedos, brown tuxedos, you name it,” said Natasha Wells, sales representative at Black Knight Tuxedo in Red Deer.
Wells said that while her store doesn’t carry the “more out-there” tuxedo colours, she often recommends her male clients pair up a more traditional white or black tuxedo with a vibrant tie, vest, or pocket square.
This way he can match his date’s dress’ color scheme — without overshadowing her, Wells said.
A popular alternative to renting the tux is to buy a suit, which Nguyen said is what he and many of his friends have done this year.
“Renting a tux is already 75 bucks . . . for a little more, you can get a suit, and keep it forever, it’s an investment,” said Nguyen..
After graduation, casual wear for teens is also trending toward the colourful, as well as the pattern heavy, said Berkley Neil, a buyer at Alta Boutique in Red Deer.
“Brights are back in a big way, from tops and bottoms to sunnies and sneaks,” she said.
Neil said young women shouldn’t be afraid to mix bright colours and patterns and recommends trying a floral print sundress with a plaid overshirt or denim vest; and men can try “throwing on a fave striped tee under any sort of plaid overshirt or a different stripe.”
She also said sweatshirt knits and light cottons are great for lounging on summer evenings and chambray (a light-weave cotton fabric that has the appearance of thin denim) is going to be big this year.
“Chambray is showing up everywhere,” she said.
“It’s a great look that can be worn casually or dressed up . . . just make sure when wearing chambray to match it with denim that’s a few shades darker or another colour like gray, to avoid the dreaded ‘Canadian-tuxedo’ look.”
Local high school graduation ceremonies
• May 27 at Westerner Park
• Ceremony at 11 a.m.
• Banquet dinner at 7 p.m.
• 392 graduates
• June 3 at Westerner Park
• Ceremony at 12 p.m.
• Banquet dinner at 6 p.m.
• 300 graduates
• June 3
• Ceremony at 3 p.m. at the school
• Banquet dinner at 6 p.m. at the Black Knight Inn
• 25 graduates
• June 29 at Westerner Park
• Ceremony at 10 a.m
• Celebration reception at 7 p.m.
• 420 graduates