Perfect prom dreams are contagious.
I bet that even in those of you who publicly malign prom and all the awkward memories you might have, the desire for an enchanted evening still lingers below the surface. And after visiting what could easily be considered Anchorage's prom mecca last week, I was ready to zip up a zebra-print dress and buckle strappy silver stiletto sandals.
Several local proms are still to come during the next few weeks. So I dug in to discover any prom-going trends and figure out just how far the local prom-prepping scene has come at Anderson's Bride.
The Midtown shop has, for more than a decade, been the go-to spot for brides-to-be. Recently, it's also become a one-stop spot for evening and prom wear.
This year, Anderson's went a step further and created a separate prom room at the west end of the store. The radio plays top-40 hits at low volume. Bright pink walls are practically hidden by racks and racks of sequins, sparkling beads, silk, tulle, satin, chiffon and charmeuse.
A-lines, column styles and poufy, full-skirted ball gowns are matched with plunging necklines, halter-tops and spaghetti straps. Brands such as Flirt, Partytime and Cool Collection hint at the possibilities. And every accessory you could need -- from shoes to Spanx -- is on display.
"The style this year is definitely animal prints," Britny Harris said. "Patterns and prints, definitely. There's funky stuff here."
If you're at Anderson's, you're likely to find Harris working the prom room. She's also a senior at Service High School, so when she empathizes with customers, she's speaking from personal experience.
"It'll find you," Harris told one customer who didn't have much luck trying on dresses to fulfill a last-minute prom invite. "Don't worry, your dress will find you."
Anderson's has customers fill out a prom registration card and they keep track of all purchases. Harris said she can look up any dress a customer might be interested in and make sure there won't be identical belles at any local balls.
"Girls can have their special, unique dress," she said. "They won't be biting their nails, thinking 'Oh, is someone going to have it?' "
Anderson's newest addition, a tuxedo shop that opened in January, is at the other end of the strip mall. It's separate from the rest of the store; walk in and the mood is definitely more masculine.
Sports videos are in constant play on a flat-screen TV mounted to the wall. Black leather couches sit in the room's center, industrial-looking fixtures hold all kinds of tuxedo elements for display.
"(It's) kind of a waiting room for guys who are with their girls," said store owner Jim Anderson, "and hopefully we can show them a tux."
Some tuxedos they can show you are a step up from peak lapels and matchy-matchy ties and cummerbunds. Think outside the tuxedo box, if you will, with a chocolate-colored coat and silk ecru tie or a white suit with black pinstripes. Even the traditional blacks are modern and refined.
Still shopping? Here are a few pointers if you plan on stopping at Anderson's.
At this point in the prom season, special orders aren't possible. Harris said most companies are already working on 2009 styles, so start thinking ahead for next year: "Come in at the end of December, early January for senior proms. Earlier for junior proms," she said. "During those months, anything's available, and you can get the dress you want. The sky's the limit!"
Harris said Anderson's started the prom season with about 700 dresses in stock and now has about 400 in stock.
"There are still many options for the girls who are shopping late," she said.
If you book your date's tuxedo at Anderson's when you purchase a dress, you'll get $25 off the dress purchase.
Anderson's will also take 10 percent off accessories (shoes, jewelry, undergarments, etc.) with the purchase of a dress.
ANDERSON'S BRIDE is at 802 E. 36th Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; the store is open Sunday and Monday by appointment only. Call 563-8839 or visit www.andersonsbride.com for more information.