Clipper Couture offers affordable prom, semi-formal wear

Clipper Couture offers affordable prom, semi-formal wear

Cumberland High School students, from left, Briana Nuay, Elizabeth Broadbent and Cate Swanton, help run Clipper Couture, a shop inside the school where students can purchase semi-formal and prom dresses and suit jackets ranging from $20 to $40. (Breeze photo by Brittany Ballantyne)

CUMBERLAND – Step into “Clipper Couture” at Cumberland High School, and see prom and semi-formal dresses lining clothing racks, some with tags still attached.

Men’s suit jackets hang next to a handful of ties, women’s formal shoes are positioned on shelves and assorted jewelry is on display.

The price tag is the same for all semi-formal dresses: $20. Long gowns are $40, suit jackets are $25. Ties and pairs of shoes are $5 each.

Michelle McIntosh, special educator and co-adviser for the Class of 2020, said the boutique’s purpose is two-fold. The affordable prom attire allows students to save hundreds of dollars, and also benefits the Class of 2020, allowing the group to save money on prom expenses, she said.

“People think it’s a great idea. We’re hoping that it really catches on, and we’re hoping that girls get over the stigma of wearing somebody else’s dress – these dresses are beautiful,” she said.

Clipper Couture, which opened about two weeks ago, has seen about 70 dress donations, as well as a few suit jackets, McIntosh said, and some dresses have been purchased by students.

The shop is open after school every day, except Wednesdays, from 2 p.m. to about 2:45 p.m., she said, but private showings of the prom attire can be booked online, using a Google document students receive with daily announcement links.

This is the second year the Class of 2020 is hosting the Clipper Couture fundraiser, and last year, the group sold 10 dresses, McIntosh said.

She said she hopes the shop sells more dresses this time around, since Clipper Couture re-opened with more time for students to check out the items for sale before the homecoming dance happening at the end of October.

Clipper Couture will remain open through the week of homecoming, she said, and will reopen again after students return from winter break in preparation for Winter Ball, Spring Fling and junior and senior proms.

The shop’s customers haven’t been limited to high school students, McIntosh said. Last year, students from both North Cumberland Middle School and Joseph L. McCourt Middle School selected dresses for semi-formal at the CHS store, located where the former technology center was housed across from the school’s cafeteria.

Through collaboration with the CHS guidance department, McIntosh said, students that were in search of dresses last year but could not afford the gowns at Clipper Couture were provided dresses.

Cate Swanton, one of the class officers for the sophomore class, said she hopes students won’t see the clothing as “second-hand” attire, and encouraged students to see what the store has to offer.

Class President Briana Nuay said students should sift through the items in the shop, and encouraged classmates to check Clipper Couture out for themselves.

“These are so worth it,” she said, standing beside a rack of gowns of various styles and designs.

She and Swanton said dresses in stores typically go for at least $100, and usually cost a few hundred dollars.

“There’s so many people that can’t afford nice dresses – and these are nice dresses,” Nuay said.

Students or other with inquiries about purchasing or donating to the initiative can contact McIntosh at, or call the school at 401-658-2600. Cash or checks are accepted, McIntosh said.

Swanton and Nuay said they hope even after the Class of 2020 graduates, other classes will take over the initiative to help fellow students and continue fundraising.


Thank you for the great write-up, Brittany! If anyone would like to make a dress/suit donation, please contact me at the email address above. All money raised goes toward offsetting the price for 2020's junior and senior prom venues.