Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Ruby Room

Volunteer Charla Pereira, 32, gazes at Krystal Baker, 17, as she walks out of the dressing room and exclaims she found the perfect prom dress Saturday afternoon at The Ruby Room. “I tried it on and looked and myself and it was perfect,” she said.

It's the peak of prom season at The Ruby Room, a Capitol Hill nonprofit boutique where low-income teens can shop for free formal dresses.

A steady stream of high-schoolers, each matched with her own personal shopper, scoured the racks of gowns, shoes, purses, wraps and jewelry for the perfect ensemble.

By the end of the season, as many as 200 gowns will be given away.

"We treat these girls as clients, and their shopping experience is like any experience they have if they are shopping at Nordstrom," said Ann Tran, a volunteer personal shopper. "Deep down, we all want to feel like a princess or a movie star."

(center) Ann Tran helps Francheska Route (right), 18, find the perfect necklace to complement the dress Route will wear for her senior prom Rainier Beach High School. Tran, a volunteer, worked Route’s personal shopper in the boutique. After trying on strings of pearls, Route finally decided on a delicate gold chain with a small diamond.

Chelsey Kimball, 17, matches necklaces to prom dresses as her daughter Trinity Humphrey, 10 months, and her foster mother Mary Aykens watch alongside Saturday afternoon at the Ruby Room. Kimball, a senior at Discovery Alternative High School in Port Orchard, visited the Ruby Room for the first time this weekend. Volunteer and personal shopper, Ann Bensley, helps Kimball with her accessories.

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All images copyright Erika Schultz or The Seattle Times