It’s half term week. For mums of teenage girls that can mean a stressful day (or two or three) out shopping for that “dream” prom dress. At Fab Frocks,  we are already getting our 2017 collection of prom dresses in. The school proms may not be until next summer but prom dress shopping has well and truly begun.

I have been selling prom dresses for over 15 years now. It’s so wonderful to see the transformation. A tomboy girl comes in wearing jeans and trainers. She appears from our changing room as a young woman in a gorgeous dress and heels. For many of our customers, it is their first experience of wearing a posh dress. It’s a ‘coming of age’ moment that carries a huge importance for them within their peer group.

I know I’ve done a good job when that same girl comes back to me a few years later for her graduation evening dress.

Take the stress out of prom dress shopping

My advice to any parent about to embark on the prom dress experience is to set a budget with your daughter before you even set foot in a shop.

Bear in mind emotions run high at the best of times with teenagers. I have witnessed some very embarrassing scenes. A teenager storming out of my shop because her mother has said she cannot have a dress.  Of course, the teenager is in the wrong to act like this but so is the mother. She led her daughter to believe she can have a dress that is a certain price.

As to what budget – that is down to you of course. Prom dresses in our collections range from £55 to over £500.

To help spread the load, we offer a payment plan. It allows you to put a deposit of half and then pay over three monthly instalments.

Avoid the fakes from abroad and at home. We have so many customers who come to us after buying a “bargain” prom dress online. It arrives, looking nothing like the photo and the quality is poor. These people have essentially wasted £50 on a dress they cannot wear. Most never get their money back as the fake sites disappear overnight. Even more frustrating is that money could go to buying a decent dress that they can try on before they buy.

I feel so strongly about these rip-offs that I recently helped the research team on BBC’s ‘Fake Britain’ consumer programme investigate some fake sites.

Remember the dress it is your daughter’s choice – not yours. Work on the principle that if you say you like it, she probably won’t!

With this in mind I have come up with 10 top tips for teenagers to consider. After all, they may listen to me as I am not their mum!