Dream dresses await their new owners — and the prom

ARLINGTON — The high school girls had their hair curled and styled. Eye shadow and blush had been applied to each of their smiling faces.

Dressed in mostly long pink, white and black dresses, the eight high school students also wore sparkling bracelets and necklaces meant to complement their gowns. The dazzling group looked ready to head off to their prom.

Emily Peterson peered around a doorway and watched as the girls had their photographs taken.

The students weren’t really on their way to their big high school dance. They were part of a photo shoot on Thursday to promote a prom dress exchange organized by Peterson.

Peterson, 25, believes that now is a good time for girls to look for a dress to wear to their prom. She also wants to help make sure every girl who cannot afford a new dress is able to find one they love.

So she brought together high school students to model some donated dresses and to have their hair and makeup done by volunteers at PaZazz! Hair Design. The effort was to help promote The 2012 Prom Dress Exchange and Fashion Show scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 3 at Arlington Kids’ Closet, 135 S. French Ave.

Peterson held her first free prom dress exchange last year at her business, A Beautiful Addiction Tanning Salon. The event was such a success that Peterson was asked if she would hold it again. She began organizing this year’s dress exchange in December and since then has had other businesses in the community step up to help her.

“Last year there were about 10 sponsoring businesses and I didn’t know if I would do it again,” Peterson said. “Come December, we had people volunteering and every day I’ve come in (to work) there’s someone else who has called and asked to volunteer.”

During the exchange, girls from any school district will be able to search for their dream dress from racks. Other accessories like jewelry and purses to complete the prom look are also scheduled to be sold at the event.

The fashion show scheduled from noon to 1 p.m. is new to this year’s event and is directed by Jeanne Watanabe, the owner of The Silver Hanger, a local women’s clothing consignment shop. Watanabe gave credit to Peterson for starting the event.

“Emily has the heart to make sure that all girls have a dress to wear to the prom,” she said. “I told her I’d love to do the fashion show.”

About 125 dresses so far have been donated at drop-off sites in Arlington and Marysville. Dresses can be donated up until the day of the event in Arlington at A Beautiful Addiction Tanning Salon, 430 N West Ave. Suite 4, or The Silver Hanger, 437 North Olympic Ave. Trusty Threads at 1515 3rd St. in Marysville also is accepting donations for the dress exchange.

There is no registration to attend the event, Peterson said. Arlington’s Kids’ Closet will store any leftover dresses for girls to browse through and try on after the event.

Madison Mercer-Fruhling, 17, was one of the high school students who volunteered Thursday for the promotional photo shoot. The Arlington High School senior also plans to volunteer as a model for the March 3 fashion show.

“I’m not one of those super small girls and I wanted other girls like me to see that they could still find a pretty dress and have a fun time at the dance,” Madison said.

Another student volunteer, Brianna Wickstrom, 17, is looking forward to modeling at the fashion show and trying to find a dress to wear to Lakewoood High School’s prom. At last year’s event she found a lilac dress she wore to the prom.

“It was the perfect dress,” she said. “I’m definitely going to look again this year.”

Find a dress

The 2012 Prom Dress Exchange and Fashion Show is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 3, at Kids’ Closet, 135 S. French Ave. in Arlington. Learn more at www.thepromcloset.com.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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