Like many area girls, Marietta High School senior Molly Mays has already been perusing the Internet for prom dress ideas-and even designed one of her own.
After discovering that many of the dresses were out of her price range she entered a national dress-designing contest with hopes of winning the dress she wants.
She is currently among the top 18 finalists in the contest, with more than 200 "Likes" on Facebook.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Marietta High School senior Molly Mays shows a sketch she made of a prom dress for a national contest. If she wins, she’ll get a dress of her choice, a $500 Visa gift card and a free limousine ride to prom for her and her friends. The dress she sketched would also be manufactured. The contest ends on Facebook Tuesday.
"I have way more votes than I expected," said Mays, 18. "There were originally 480 entries from the U.S. and Canada."
The 2012 Prom Sketch 2 Win contest is being held by the Allure dress company. To participate, Mays had to submit an original sketch of her dream dress.
The dress is ball gown style, with the top ruched with silver beading and the skirt being made of thin and flowing petals. She drew one in blue and one in yellow.
How to vote:
To vote for Marietta resident Molly Mays' prom dress design, search for Night Moves Prom on Facebook and find her design under the photo album titled "Sketch 2 Win - Ultimate Prom 2012 Giveaway from Night Moves." Her name is on the top of her sketch. Cast a vote by clicking "Like" under her sketch. Voting ends Tuesday.
Belpre High School: 8 to 11 p.m., May 5; Lafayette Hotel, 101 Front St., Marietta.
Fort Frye High School: time to be announced, May 5; Comfort Inn, 700 Pike St., Marietta.
Frontier High School: 8 to 11 p.m., April 28; Lafayette Hotel.
Marietta High, April 21, Marietta High School.
Warren High School: 8 to 11 p.m., April 14; Marietta Shrine Club, 249 Pennsylvania Ave., Marietta; $40 a couple, $25 single; tickets on sale March 5.
Waterford High School: 8 to 11 p.m., April 28; Waterford High School, 330 Main St., Waterford; no cost and no tickets.
Call the store ahead of time and make an appointment, so you're sure to get one-on-one service. A sales representative should be able to tell what kind of dress you're looking for and what style looks best on your body after seeing you try on a couple dresses.
Wear the undergarments and any hosiery you'll wear the night of prom, so you'll get a real sense of what the dress will look like that night.
Don't take a big group with you when you go prom dress shopping. It's a better idea to take just one close friend, or your mom.
Save money by buying a dress that is in stock rather than special ordering one. Buying a model from last year or a sample dress can also save you money. Savings can also be found at trunk shows.
If a dress doesn't fit perfectly, ask the shop what they can do. Many dresses need the hem shortened or the sides taken in, but be sure to ask how much the alterations will cost before allowing the shop to do them.
Although good deals can sometimes be found on the Internet, keep in mind that if a dress seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. It may end up being a cheaply made knock-off that is the wrong size and color. Always buy from a reputable store or one you've used before.
Source: Seventeen magazine, www.Seventeen.com
"I've always liked the prom dresses that are ball gowns," Mays said.
If she wins, she'll receive a dress of her choice from the Night Moves by Allure collection, a free limousine ride to prom for her and her friends and a $500 Visa gift card. Additionally, the dress she sketched would be manufactured for the company's prom 2013 collection.
Facebook users can vote for Mays' sketch by searching for the Night Moves Prom page on Facebook and looking for her design under the photo album titled "Sketch 2 Win - Ultimate Prom 2012 Giveaway from Night Moves." Her name is on the top of her sketch. A vote is cast by clicking "Like" under her sketch.
"Whoever has the most by (Tuesday) wins," she said.
Mays said she has taken many art classes while in high school and she plans to pursue a minor in art in college.
"I would just be completely shocked," she said of the thought of winning. "I just did it for fun because I wouldn't be able to afford many of the prom dresses."
Although prom is still two or three months away for Washington County's high school students, area dress shops say they've already been busy with girls looking for dresses.
"It used to be you didn't buy your prom dress until March but they've been looking since December," said Julie Morgan, owner of J&J's Personal Touch on Murdoch Avenue in Parkersburg. "This is my 26th prom season and they're getting earlier and earlier."
Morgan said many girls are looking for bright prom dresses this year, from turquoise to purple to hot pink. Still, others are more interested in dresses in classic colors like black or red.
"It's a little more sophisticated - the red carpet look," she said. "They watch what celebrities wear to the Oscars or the awards shows and they want that elegance."
As for the dress style, Morgan said many girls are going for the "mermaid" look this year but some still prefer the classic ball gown.
"Every year we do real well with the ball gowns. It's a typical prom look," she said.
Morgan added that ombre dresses are also extremely popular this year. This style of dress is multi-colored, with one color fading into the next.
"It makes it look like cotton candy," she said.
The camouflage dress is also gaining popularity, Morgan said. She said the shop has a designer who is custom designing camouflage dresses for customers.
"Some girls, that's exactly their personality, but it has a feminine flair to it," she said.
Elizabeth Michaels on Grand Central Avenue in Vienna has also been very busy with prom dress shoppers, according to Debora Haynes, a manager there.
"We have been blasted since December," she said. "We have more than doubled last year's numbers."
Haynes said customers are looking for animal print dresses, strapless dresses and gowns with cut outs, which allow some skin to show. Hi-lo prom dresses, which are short in the front and longer in the back, have also been extremely popular, she said.
"On the flip side, they're doing short ballroom dresses as well," she said. "A lot have said, 'This is my senior year, I'm going all out' and they're going for a short dress."
She added that there doesn't seem to be any particular color that girls are looking for but the store certainly has no lack of options when it comes to color.
"It looks like crayon box blew up in our store because we have lots of colors in here," Haynes said.