New prom attire guidelines stirring up controversy in chesterfield county

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Even though prom season is still months away, new guidelines about what to wear in Chesterfield county have many girls scrambling. The dresses they've already bought may not cut it.

Some girls plan for prom night a year in advance and pay hundreds of dollars for the perfect dress. But what's perfect in their eyes might just get them kicked out of prom.

The owner of Lex's of Carytown, Lisa McSherry, says many of the girls will now have to start over.

For many teenage girls, prom night is like the Oscars. But the gowns that catch all the red carpet attention may be frowned upon at the prom, at least in Chesterfield.

"We have now sold 140 to Chesterfield county alone, I'd say a good 90 percent of those are not going to pass the policy," said McSherry.

School officials say they laid out some general guidelines for prom, in part, after a dirty dancing incident at last year's homecoming dance at Clover Hill high that left some concerned about attire. For example, no plunging necklines or bare midriff.

It's up to the 11 individual high schools to adopt them. School officials say students took part in setting the guidelines. Brielle Chapman is on the prom dress code committee at Thomas Dale.

"We can have a back that come down to our hips and no cut outs in the front," said Chapman.

"This is the one event girls look forward to all year and they're making it so strict some of the dresses they're telling us we should be wearing are old lady dresses," said James River High student Kelsey Atkinson.

Ashley Pater ordered her $350 dress three months ago for the Cosby prom.

"When I originally bought it I knew I was going to have to have it pulled up and they told me I could have an open back but now they're saying even the back I can't have it so the dress is  pretty much ruined," said Pater.

McSherry says what's in stock is based on the latest trends and now the choices are limited.

"I know some can take advantage of it and there some that go overboard we personally try not to order those dresses it's not the majority of our clientele but I think the policy has gone overboard," said McSherry.

McSherry wants the schools to be a little bit more understanding when the girls show up for prom. But school officials say security will be on hand to monitor the dress code and anyone not following it will be asked to leave.

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