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Your Stylist: The right dress for any prom princess and necklaces for an accessories amateur

April 19, 2010 |  8:08 am

Resident Image stylist and market editor Melissa Magsaysay soothes your sartorial woes in the weekly Your Stylist blog column.

Dear Your Stylist,
I know you usually dispense styling tips, but I wondered if you could offer some shopping guidance as well. A friend’s high school age sister is visiting from a small town in Northern California this weekend and she’s on the hunt for a prom dress that will be different from what all of her girlfriends will be wearing. She wants to keep the gown’s price tag under $300 and they only have one afternoon to find that perfect dress. Can you recommend some stores for her to try? WF, Los Angeles


Ah yes, prom time is upon us and tons of giddy teens are out looking for that perfect dress with all the enthusiasm of a bride-to-be, only with a smaller budget and no massive wedding to plan, just the anxiety of coaxing their parents to extend their curfew.

Now I don’t know this girl’s style, size or taste, but here are some suggestions to start:

Macy’s in the Beverly Center. 2nd and 3rd floor – good selection of BCBG, Sue Wong, DKNY, Marc by Marc Jacobs - $ - $$$$. Whether she wants something traditionally “prom-like” and froufrou or a dress that’s trendy and probably a knockoff version of this year's top Oscar gowns, Macy’s will have a floor filled with styles at varying price points. And the shoe department is right downstairs, so it’s truly one-stop shopping.

Betsey Johnson 8050 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046 - $$. Betsey Johnson dresses have such a fun, retro appeal and are perfect for the stylish girl who likes to stand out a little. Since your friend wants something different from her friends, this could be a good option, because with Betsey it’s never the standard ruched, strapless minidress – which is too revealing and grown-up looking for a high school Nicolemiller3 prom anyway.

Nicole Miller 8633 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069 - $$$. Pretty, romantic and bohemian options here. She’ll find something on the sweeter side that could easily be worn to a summer wedding or formal family affair.

Catherine Malandrino 651-653 N. La Cienega Blvd - $$$$. If she’s a budding fashionista, then Malandrino’s dresses will appeal to her. These are more sophisticated and will have her looking like the most polished prom-goer at her school.

There is also a line of special occasion dresses being carried at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus that fall around the $200 mark called Dalia Macphee.The dresses are fun and flirty, but totally age appropriate.

But, if she’s serious about standing apart from her friends, then a vintage dress is truly one of a kind and will have the most character and individual style. The Way We Wore at 334 S. La Brea always has amazing old gems that will undoubtedly have her looking like the belle of the ball.

$ = everything from $69 to $500
$$ = $199 - $300
$$$ = $150 - $500
$$$$ - $200 - $1000


My wardrobe consists of mainly solid basics in earthy tones. I know I need to accessorize to add a little life to these neutral pieces, but I’ve never been a big accessories person and have no idea where to start. What can I add to simple, earth tone basics so I look more put together for work? DN, Pasadena

For anyone who has never delved into accessories, it can be totally overwhelming. Just focus on one thing at a time. For summer, start with a necklace that can easily be layered over a white or tan button-down blouse. Anya81

Since you say you have a lot of earth tones, go for a necklace that is gold and possibly mixed with wood, tortoise or clear glass or Lucite pieces. A long strand necklace immediately slices solids down the center, adding the look of length to your torso and breaking up all that blank space.

If you eventually get adventurous and start stacking on some bangles or wearing earrings, just make sure to stay away from the “easiness” of getting all matchy matchy and wearing a “set” of jewelry that all goes together.

Add a couple of warm metal necklaces in to your heavy rotation and get used to accessorizing before you start experimenting. It's amazing what one statement necklace will do for your now boring basics.

Send your style queries to

-- Melissa Magsaysay


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Top - Dresses from Dalia Macphee/Dalia Macphee; Middle - Dresses from Nicole Miller/Nicole Miller; Bottom - necklaces left to right: Nina Nguyen $165/Nina Nguyen, Aqua $52/Bloomingdales, Target $17.99/Target, Aqua $48/Bloomingdales; Bottom left - Anya $81/Anya