Getting Glam at the Prom Boutique

From dresses to accessories to elaborate “prom-posals,” prom is becoming an increasingly expensive experience for young people. With the average cost of attending now more than $500, many graduating teens cannot afford to celebrate this milestone event with their peers – especially those who come from families struggling to make ends meet.

That’s where the Prom Boutique comes in. This annual event (the largest of its kind in Toronto) helps teens facing economic barriers get outfitted for prom at no cost. 

“I was debating even going to prom because I didn’t have money to spend on a dress. I’m so grateful for my beautiful dress and accessories! You helped me so much.”  

This year, 500 girls and boys came to New Circles during the month of May to pick out lightly-worn formal wear, accessories and footwear. To help the teens sort through the hundreds of dresses, suits, footwear and other items, each student is assigned a personal shopper who helps them put together their unique prom look. Then it’s off for a touch-up or a cool new style at the make-up and hair-styling stations, and a portrait session with our volunteer photographer.

“Even though I came alone, my personal shopper made me feel relaxed and helped me have a lot of fun. Thank you for helping me feel and look beautiful!”

As part of our focus on youth leadership and skill development, the Prom Boutique also includes an information fair where graduates can learn about volunteer and employment opportunities in their local community.

It takes a large network of people passionate about helping youth to stock and run the Boutique each year – from retail partners to product donors to clothing drive organizers. Much of the clothing comes from individual donors across the city who feel moved to clean out their closets and support this initiative. The Prom Boutique Committee – Miriam Blumstock, Justin Ming Cheung, Gail Cooper, Rise Kogon, Marcy Muchnik, and Elaine Rocca – coordinates the details along with staff members Poppy Harpula and Cailin McNamara, and 81 volunteers set up for the day and help out at the event.

“We’re lucky to have many helping hands to make the Prom Boutique a success year after year,” said Poppy, former Manager of Partnerships and Special Initiatives, who spearheaded the Prom Boutique for the past five years. “The best part is the look on a teen’s face when they find the outfit that fits just right – that moment makes all the time and effort worth it.”

Click here to see a complete list of Prom Boutique supporters.

New Circles' GLOW clothing service is the largest clothing bank in Toronto. We help 9,000 families annually.