The Anniston Star
By Theresa Shadrix
Leah and Lauren Sparks share the same birthday, are involved in similar clubs at Oxford High School and complete each other's sentences, but the 16-year-old twins are total opposites.
Leah is an athlete with state championship trophies in track and field, while Lauren is a class beauty who has modeled locally and likes to watch America's Next Top Model.
Selecting a prom dress was as different as their personalities.
“Lauren was out there in the store, looking at herself in front of the mirror and twirling around,” Shawn Jones, the girl's mother said. “Leah wouldn't even come out of the dressing room.”
Leah recently placed fourth in the 100-meter dash at a track meet, plays volleyball, is a guard on the basketball team and was selected as Most Talented in Who's Who by her classmates. She rarely wears make-up and admits shopping is not her forté.
“I tried on long dresses, but I couldn't move in them. But I can in this one. I am ready to dance,” she said about her mini gown with long, layered ruffles.
Both girls selected playful, colorful gowns, but while Leah's is short, Lauren's is long and straight. “I think it looks glamorous,” Lauren's mom said about her dress.
Lauren can't wait to get dressed up for prom but said she is also excited for her sister. “Leah doesn't wear make-up or wear dresses or heels, and I can't wait for people to see her in this dress. It is like a total make-over!”
“OK, so I will wear make-up to prom,” Leah laughs. “Enough already.”
It is rare for Lauren to leave the house without make-up, and when she does it doesn't go unnoticed, but the duo will get help from their big sister, Lyndsey. “I don't want to look like I have on a mask,” said Leah. “I trust her.”
Noticing things like make-up, personality and style is one way to help girl's select prom gowns said JoAnne Kirby, manager of Prom Headquarters in Jacksonville.
“I let the girls pick out a few dresses and try them on and then I help them select the best one for their individuality. I just notice how they look and what they like.”
With the charm of a grandmother, Kirby said she encourages girls towards dresses that fit their uniqueness, body type and trends.
“The A-line dress is perfect for girls with an hour glass figure or bigger hips,” she said. “Brown is also the color this year for prom, but we have seen bright colors. It really just depends on the girl with what color they pick.”
Kirby has noticed gowns like the brown and aqua Lauren is wearing are popular but so are full ball gowns.
Tammie Tuck, sales clerk at the Quality Shoppe in Jacksonville, agrees.
“This is the year of full dresses,” she said. “We have had girls come in and they don't want poofy, but the mom talks her into trying one on and she walks out with one.”
Tuck observed both the brown and bright color trend too. “We have sold a lot of chocolate brown, and they are normally straight dresses,” she said. “The poofy, full gowns have been bright colors. Aqua, orange, raspberry, yellow…they are bright and fun.”
The most popular prom gown for Alexander's Bridal Shop in Oxford is a chocolate brown, full length gown said owner Mike Alexander. He has also seen there is no one trend and the character of the girl is what matters most.
“We have about 1,000 dresses, and they make them to fit all personalities.”
Alexander points out a full length, black and white polka dotted gown with a large red sash and bow. “This one has been popular.” Then he directs his attention to a simple, straight aqua gown decorated with a stream of Swarovski crystals. “Oh, but this one is also popular too.”
Alexander points out that prom is not just for girls and some guys are taking note of fashion for the social gathering of year.
“This year we had a few girls that told us they had to match their gown to the guy's vest.”
Admitting it is rare for girls to select gowns around their dates, he said sometimes boys do take just as much time selecting a tuxedo as girls do with dresses.
“Guys no longer wear cummerbunds. There are no bow ties and no button covers,” he said. “Now it is brown tuxes, long ties with matching vest and longer coats. They want to look good too.”
Lauren and Leah's prom dates matched their tuxedos to their dresses and both say the like what was selected.
“He is wearing a brown tux, brown vest and an aqua tie,” said Lauren, speaking about her date Taylor Clark. “I don't think he is too excited about it but he is wearing it.”
Leah said her date, Devin Futral, is wearing all white. “His is a white tuxedo, white vest and white tie.”
Now that they have their dresses and their dates have their tuxedos, the only thing on their to do list for their March 30 prom is picking up their shoes and waiting to get ready the day of the dance.
“We have to make a hair appointment, get our nails done, our eyebrows waxed and get our tan,” said Lauren. Leah is excited about dressing up for the prom, but she just wants to have fun.
“It is going to be so much fun. It is a time to let loose and dance. But I will probably take off my shoes and go barefoot.”