The elegance of the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club suggested an elite shopping experience was in store, but for scores of teens seeking prom gowns Saturday, the prices were pure bargain basement.
About a hundred girls turned out for a prom-dress swap organized by SSU communications major Erin Galbraith to benefit high school girls in need of affordable prom-wear as well as MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
?I didn?t expect so many people to come,? said Galbraith, who pulled together the event in a mere 2 1/2 weeks as her senior project once the country club donated the banquet hall.
Promgoers commonly shell out $100, $200 or even more for special dresses they end up wearing twice, if they?re lucky, and frequently only once.
Girls and young women who brought dresses to swap were at liberty to choose another gown and take it, free of charge, while those merely shopping generally paid $20 for an outfit, the proceeds benefitting MADD.
A handful of dresses also were being sold on a consignment basis, their prices hovering well below $100 and even $50 in most cases, with 20 percent of the price designated for MADD.
Santa Rosa Christian School 10th grader Arin Guillory, 16, found two or three dresses to buy, so appealing were the prices.
She?d also found it impossible to choose between the pair she took home - a two-piece turquoise outfit and a black sheath dress with red lining.
?They?re absolutely perfect,? she said. ?I?m surprised I got them to fit so perfectly.
?I hope they do it again next year,? said her mother, Jodi Giuseponi. ?If not, I?m doing it.?
Santa Rosa High School junior Katie La Londe was still contemplating two dresses she?d seen at Macy?s for about $200 each as she examined one of the gowns at the swap. She said she?d probably check out a few shops in San Francisco before making a decision.
Her mom, Terri La Londe, said all of the dresses her daughter was considering were less than the $400 she?d anticipated, but she still lamented the fact that the selected gown would likely get little wear.
?Kids are so impractical,? she said. ?If I were going to spend three or four hundred bucks, I?d get something I could wear again.?
Galbraith, who lives in Temecula when she?s not at school, donated five of her own dresses to the event ? one with the tags still attached. Two of her Sonoma State friends confessed to fancy dresses gathering dust in their closets back home.
?I?ve spent so much on proms,? said one, Stephanie Gillen.
?I don?t even want to think about it,? said the other, Annie Lecq.
By the end of the day, 26 fancy dresses had been sent home with new owners and $165 had been collected for MADD, Galbraith said.
?It went great,? she said.