The Ruby Room is a happy place!
The hustle of dresses in and out of the changing rooms…
The talk of hairstyles to fit the look of a dress…
Questioning at 17 years old, “Can you really walk in those heels all night long?”
The Ruby Room inventory spans over 1500+ dresses, gowns and cocktail dresses included.
So what happens when a teen leaves without a dress for the dance?
It’s unusual for this to happen, in fact, this season is a near perfect styling girls for prom.
And then there’s that one exception...
A busy Saturday afternoon we welcomed a client, who did not get a dress with us that day.
I reflect back on the why
Meet Sarina, a lovely high school senior, with an alternative style and a sparkle of hope in her eye to be in the Ruby Room; Sarina arrived with her boyfriend’s (BF) mom. Like most teens visitng the Ruby Room for the first time, Sarina was a bit timid. Promptly we paired her with one of our volunteers, Kris.
Kris is the perfect fit as a Ruby Room stylist, she will greet you with a warm smile and sweet tone. She has the patience of a goddess, as the mother of three teenage kids she has been on the playing field with sometimes, opposing battles, fashion on one team and teenagers on the other. As clients and volunteers get acquainted they talk about where the dance is, what style and color of dress a client is interested in trying. This is the moment where stylists at Ruby Room try and read the client to gauge the initial pace of her experience at the boutique.
During this discovery process, Kris attempted to warm-up to Sarina, there seemed to be more pressure to find a dress than to learn more about her. Quickly, Sarina and BF’s mom pulled dresses from the racks and placed in her private dressing room. Sarina started trying on dresses.
Kris attempts at asking Sarina to come out of the fitting room and show one of the dresses she is trying on, with no avail. Seeing a client in a dress, even if it is the wrong one, allows our stylists to check on sizing, pull more of the right style, or help zipping up the back of the dress. With Sarina, this was never an option, not even a peek through the curtains. When Sarina found a dress that could be a contender, Kris walked into the shoe area and selected a pair of shoes, with the hopes it would elevate Sarina’s choice in dress. Kris walked over with a pair of shoes and without a blink, the BF’s mom chimed in condescendingly and said,” Sarina’s foot is bigger than that”. The negative tone from the BF’s mom clearly paved the way to an uncommon experience. Sarina’s shoulders folded in a little more and Kris found it difficult to make suggestions to an anxious teen.
Did Sarina dare not come out from behind the curtain because she felt nervous about a critical eye? One can only imagine what BF’s mom would have said about a dress! Yikes!
Negative comments can easily take a girl down. Maybe BF’s mom didn’t mean it to be so harsh but her delivery…. and reading off body language alone, I would say next time leave her at home!
At the end of the busy day, I paused, I took time to reflect on my feelings seeing Sarina leave the boutique without a dress in hand. I knew we were in the position to help her further so I called in an attempt to schedule a one-on-one shopping trip to find this sweet girl a dress! Maybe we hear back from her and she gives us another chance.
There is pressure for girls to find the right dress for the dance, the hopes of feeling confident, and we do our best to manage expectations of each girls’ experience at the Ruby Room boutique. Often times the age of girls we work with, it is their first time trying on a formal dress or formal dresses for that matter! We try and take that pressure off the girls and give them individualized attention when shopping at Ruby Room.
As a client, coming to the Ruby Room, and you question if you need moral support, you will always find that at the Ruby Room! Leave the critics at home! Everyone at the Ruby Room is here to lend a helping hand, it is a shared goal to have a girl walk out with confidence and self-love.
Style and fashion is one’s unique perspective, so remember if you didn’t love something a girl was wearing or have a difference of opinion, BE KIND!
The truth is we don’t know what others may be internalizing or trying to overcome as they look in the mirror. We think of finding a dress at the Ruby Room is part of their prom story and we want the girls to reflect on their experience as a positive one.