Dreams Delivered holds annual free prom dress boutique for Evanston high schoolers


Virginia Hunt/The Daily Northwestern

The Woman’s Club of Evanston gathered dresses from community donations, as well as local bridal shops and other businesses, to create a free prom outfit collection for Evanston students.

Virginia Hunt, Reporter

Three days, 108 appointments and nearly 1,000 dresses: inside the ballroom of The Woman’s Club of Evanston, prom season is in full swing. 

It’s all part of Dreams Delivered, a program that provides free prom dresses, shoes and jewelry for high schoolers in Evanston. Jointly hosted by The Woman’s Club of Evanston and the philanthropic arm of the Delta Chi Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the event runs April 16 through April 18 this year and is open to all Evanston students.

In 2007, a member of the The Woman’s Club mentioned some students at Evanston Township High School couldn’t afford prom dresses, said Sheila Best, co-chair of Dreams Delivered. That provided the impetus for the program, Best said.

Although the event originally focused on supporting female-identifying students, the program has since expanded to be more inclusive, said Best. 

“We broadened it to any students who choose to wear a dress to prom, and we’re very proud to be able to help all of those students,” Best said.

Now in its sixteenth year, Dreams Delivered collected dresses ranging from sizes 0 to 32 from members of the community and local stores. Seamstresses on site provide minor alterations. 

The program also offers makeup advice and a personal shopping assistant to help with carrying dresses and giving fashion advice.

Co-chair of Dreams Delivered Lyndsay Kane said she and the rest of her team hope to make shoppers feel pampered throughout the experience.

“It’s really a lot of fun for them,” Kane said. “Our aim is to make them feel very special.”

The Woman’s Club uses money from funding budgeted for the program or outside donations to fill its collection with a wide variety of all dress styles and sizes, Best said.

Appointments for dress selection are scheduled online. Though the program was originally need-based, Dreams Delivered opened up the opportunity to anyone interested with the goal of decreasing stigma and promoting recycling of dresses for the Evanston community, Best said.

“(The dresses) come and go frequently as we call every year to make sure that the collection is as current as possible,” Best said. “We know that styles change.”

Ahead of ETHS’ prom on May 13, Dreams Delivered put on a fashion show at ETHS during the school’s senior assembly to show off the dress collection to students. Local businesses, churches and media organizations help spread the word throughout the Evanston community. 

Home school senior Trinity Bryant found out about the event through Facebook. Trying on formal dresses and finding the right one — a floral piece — brought a sense of confidence, Bryant said.

“My parents don’t really come from a lot of money,” Bryant said. “I sometimes feel bad asking them for certain stuff, and (the boutique) makes me feel really special.”

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