Prom Boutique helps Miami-Dade students in need find their perfect look – for free
It’s official: Crisbel Moreno has found her prom dress.
The gown she chose is full glam — floor-length with off-the-shoulder sleeves, made of shimmery black fabric and sparkly rhinestone accents. Moreno was positively beaming as she posed for photos and admired her new look in the mirror.
“So pretty,” she murmured.
These days, prom can cost hundreds of dollars — money many families in Miami-Dade County don’t have. But Moreno won’t have to worry about the cost, thanks to the school district’s Prom Boutique.
Founded a decade ago, the boutique offers the full prom shopping experience to financially needy students and those experiencing homelessness — free of charge. Students get the opportunity to peruse rack after rack of shiny new suits and flowing gowns, plus matching heels, bags and accessories.
School Superintendent Jose Dotres said the work of the Prom Boutique is especially important now, at a time when the cost of living has been rising dramatically in South Florida.
“We have over 10,000 students that are experiencing unstable housing. In addition to that, we have thousands of students that unfortunately are living under the poverty level,” Dotres said. “We have to do whatever we can to support them.”
On Tuesday morning, the atmosphere was joyous as high school seniors tried out different looks and hunted for just the right shoes to match. When a student named Jeremiah showed off his pick, a slate gray suit with a matching vest, the room erupted into cheers.
Garlens Georges said he loved the whole experience.
“As soon as I came here, I said woah, that’s really beautiful. That’s great. That’s amazing,” he said.
Georges chose a sleek silver tuxedo with a shiny black dress shirt. It looks like it was tailored just for him.
“It’s perfect,” he said.
All students deserve the excitement of finding the perfect outfit for the big night, said Karen Fryd, who helped found the boutique.
“Together we’ve built a retail space, but what we have really done is create hope and opportunity … for our vulnerable students,” Fryd said. “They are incredible, they are resilient, they are talented.”
Fryd said the boutique wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers and donors. Thanks to the support of local stores and businesses, 98% of the items in the shop are brand new, according to the school district.
The Prom Boutique will stay open through the first week of June. Students can ask their school about how to qualify for an appointment.