What we like:
What it offers: The New Hope dress shop has long and short dresses that offer glitz or ritz for prom teens, mothers of the bride (and groom), or any woman who needs a dose of the glam factor.
Formal outfits can be sparkly, slinky or poofy. There are gowns with refined understatement, and the ones that bring sexy back. And if the gown doesn't sparkle, the store has accessories that will.
Shop owner Alice Kennedy, 83, travels to New York to find the latest fashions. This year's hottest are halters, strapless and clinging in colors such as orange and lime. The typical customer shopping for a prom dress spends between $150 and $175 to turn a teenager into a Cinderella.
There's more: Since opening the shop in the early 1970s, Kennedy has seen fashion trends influence eveningwear, including Madonna's bustier, Princess Diana's puffy wedding sleeves, and celebrities on the red carpet.
In the shop, moms can sit patiently while their daughters try on gowns, or teens with friends can send photos of gowns over their cell phones to mothers who are elsewhere.
Kennedy and her staff do their part to make sure that no budding Cinderella arrives at the ball and sees somebody in the same dress. They keep a legal pad with a detailed prom schedule, which includes which gowns gets purchased for which school proms.
"Last year, we supplied dresses for 123 schools," Kennedy said. Now that the prom season is nearing an end, the focus shifts to weddings and cruisewear.
Background: Kennedy worked in show business as a figure-skating chorus girl at the old Roxy Theater in New York. She taught skating, and toured with Holiday on Ice.
Her brother John Walsh, a figure skater who partnered with skating champion Sonja Henie, moved to New Hope and suggested that Kennedy come down. She did, and eventually decided to stay and open a business. She decided it would be dresses because she always loved clothes.
Over the years, Kennedy said, she has learned to never enter a teen's dressing room and to show dresses with revealing slits only when the mother is present.
"I don't have a daughter, but I call them all my daughters during the spring," Kennedy said. "I love the giggling and the whole scene. They're fun."
Where: 427 York Rd., New Hope; 215-862-2344.
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
- Kristin E. Holmes