About 40 percent of the females aged 16 to 17 in the United States will buy a prom dress within the next 12 months, says Peter Zollo of Teen Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Ill. But clothing is just a small part of a prom's price tag.

One girl (she didn't want to be named) at the Framingham (Mass.) South High School prom said she had spent $590. Expenses included her dress, shoes, handbag, jewelry, and other accessories, plus salon costs for hair, nails, makeup, and tanning.

Prom-going couples often share expenses. ``They have their own little guidelines,'' says Cele Goldsmith Lalli, editor-in-chief of Your Prom magazine. ``It depends on their particular social codes.''

Most students say their parents help out with prom expenses. Some use their own earnings for what they and their parents consider ``extras,'' - maybe a limousines, for example.

For Framingham South's prom, a typical couple spent the following:

Prom tickets (2) $70 Dress $150 Shoes (girls) $30 Accessories (girls) $50 Tuxedo $70 Corsage $35 Boutonniere $5 Photos $36 Limousine (w/tip) $230 Total: $676

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