Spring means colors.

Green trees, pink flowers, red birds.

But some of the most important colors every spring are the wide variety of hues on prom dresses.

Serena Brown, a 2022 graduate of Evanston Township High School, grew up watching movies and television shows where characters wore “pretty dresses.”

“It may seem frivolous,” Serena adds, but “it’s so important in high school. Prom and graduation” are what many kids remember the most.

Since 2007, the Woman’s Club of Evanston has helped make those prom wishes come true, by providing formal dresses, shoes and jewelry at no charge to students, who simply have to sign up, and then show up at the Woman’s Club building for the Dreams Delivered prom boutique.

A selection of jewelry available at the event.

“Everybody should be able to go to their prom,” says event co-chair Sheila Best, without feeling self-conscious about lacking a beautiful dress.

At first, Best says, the boutique was only for low income students. But then, it was opened up to any student at Evanston Township High School, “to avoid a stigma” of some kids receiving a dress for free, while others could afford them.

“We try to make it a real shopping experience,” Best explains.

Each student is assigned a volunteer “personal shopper,” a tour guide through the racks of dresses, accessories, and even a hair-and-makeup tutorial.

Many of the dresses are “slightly used”, but you’d never know it by looking at them. After all, a prom dress is often worn only once, and, of course, they are dry cleaned.

Volunteer seamstresses are even on hand for minor alterations.

Best says the Woman’s Club tries to keep their collection of about 1,000 dresses “as current as possible, to have them in the spirit of an 18-year-old going to the prom.”

The Club partners with the Ivy Pearl Foundation of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Chi Omega chapter in sponsoring the event.

More than 900 dresses have been given to students since the first prom boutique in 2007.

This year’s boutique, at the Woman’s Club, 1702 Chicago Ave., will be held Sunday afternoon and Monday and Tuesday evenings.

There are still slots available on Monday and Tuesday, and appointments are required.

As mentioned, all sorts of colors are available.

Serena Brown opted for black. Her dress was “strapless and beaded, and I felt really good in it.”

Brown, now a first-year student at Northwestern University, looks warmly back on her prom, and on the boutique.

It was special, she recalls, “having an outfit that feels as important as the day is.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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1 Comment

  1. What a wonderful service. Thanks to the Women’s Club.

    My curiosities are:
    –How is this promoted to those who might be interested?
    –Is anything similar being done for the boys? Remember, they want to be spruced up as well and perhaps buy a corsage for a date s well as a flower for their lapel.

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