The “stress of the dress” can complicate any young woman’s prom night.

“I was worried because I didn’t have the money for one,” said Lena Stott, 18, who is attending her boyfriend’s Lisgar Collegiate Institute prom next month.

In flies “Fairy Godmother,” a local organization that collects and lends dresses to area teens who are unable, for various reasons, to buy their own.


Founded by Melissa Shabinsky and Catherine Whitla, Fairy Godmother has helped outfit hundreds of city girls for prom over six years.

“Sometimes, girls just find themselves in a situation where they can’t afford it,” said Fairy Godmother volunteer Wendy Morrell. “To think that they want to go but won’t be able is really sad.”

Jessica Frost went to Fairy Godmother after her mother, Anne, suggested she check it out. After trying on three dresses, the 17-year-old Nepean High School student settled on a sparkling ankle-length pink-and-orange dress. Volunteers fuss over her, suggesting gold open-toed shoes, a vintage beaded clutch and a gold shawl to accompany it.

Frost’s eyes lit up when her mother brought her a mother-of-pearl necklace and match-
ing earrings.

“I love it,” she said of the ensemble. “I don’t think I need to try any other dresses on.”
If Fairy Godmother didn’t exist, “I’d probably have to pinch pennies to get a dress that I’d only wear once,” she said.

“Gowns are so expensive these days,” said volunteer Mary Marquardt. “And you have to get the shoes and accessories and get the hair and makeup done on top of it. It’s nice that they can save the money for their prom ticket.”

At the showroom on Laurier Avenue, masses of purses, jewelry, tiaras and scarves crowd a long table.

Shoes, grouped by size, are arranged in several areas on the floor. Clothing racks holding hundreds of dresses in every colour of the rainbow, range from size two to 24.

“I think it’s great,” said Stott. “I definitely feel like Cinderella.”

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