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Cinderella's Closet offers low-cost prom dress options

Shoppers purchase low-cost prom dresses at Cinderella's Closet.

UNION BRIDGE — Unlike Cinderella, who had the aid of mice, birds, Disney magic and a fairy godmother on her side to come up with a single outfit, it can be difficult for many high school students to find the perfect prom dress.

Each prom season, to help out those with fashionable dreams and spending limits, a number of events are held across the county where pre-worn dresses are offered up to new wearers for a low cost. Francis Scott Key High School held the first part of its annual Cinderella's Closet sale Friday night.

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According to Alethea Miller, the Cinderella's Closet tradition has gone back for nearly a decade at the school. Each year, teachers, staff, community members and students donate used and new dresses to be sold at the shop for a fraction of what they cost at retail. Prices ranged from $5 for casual, $10 for short formal, $20 for long formal and $30 to $35 for high-end formal dresses. Miller said this is an important opportunity for the community at large.

"Our region, in general, tends to have financial insecurity," Miller said. "Prom dresses when they're new can run up to $500. What do you do once you've worn it once and your friends have seen it?"

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Money raised by the sale of dresses will go to support the National Honor Society's annual Secret Santa drive where they provide holiday presents to local families in need.

Anna Matteson, a senior at Francis Scott Key, ran the sale this year as part of the NHS. Though this year she is planning on making her own prom dress, she said she utilized Cinderella's Closet during her sophomore year.

"I came to the event to just look at dresses," Matteson said. "I found a dress and bought it, and I actually ended up getting asked to prom that year. I wasn't planning on it — I was just looking for a dress to wear."

Matteson said many of the dresses are only a year or two old, while some are fresh off the rack with tags still on. She said some of the hot dress trends this year include lace and beaded tops and two-piece dresses.

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Volunteer Riley Bittner, a FSK junior, browsed the offerings while helping other shoppers find what they needed. She said everyone wants to stand out when they walk onto the floor at prom.

"When I look for prom dresses, I look for sparkles and jewels and something different," Bittner said. "You don't want something you're going to see someone else wear. You want something unique."

About a dozen dresses sold Friday evening, with some students picking up sundresses and other nonformal selections, in addition to what they were grabbing for prom. Brianna Murphy said she didn't know what she was looking for when she came in, but was thankful for the opportunity to buy something for an affordable price.

"I'm a senior, so with college and everything it can be very expensive," Murphy said. "I wanted to find something I liked that I didn't have to spend a lot on. I like the dress I got. I really like the way it fit me and I really liked the slit. That's something I'm into now."

Cinderella's Closet continues at Francis Scott Key on Saturday. Those who miss out will have another opportunity to grab a low-cost dress at Rita's Closet opening at the TownMall of Westminster on Saturday, April 1. Funds raised by the sale of dresses at Rita's Closet will go toward scholarships for Carroll high schools as well as the Carroll County Career and Technology Center.

410-857-7890

If you go

What: Cinderella's Closet

When: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 25

Where: Room 109, Francis Scott Key High School, 3825 Bark Hill Road, Union Bridge

For more information: Email ajmille@carrollk12.org.

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