Quinceañera dresses: Picking the perfect dress for your 15

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The story of quinceañera dresses can be as colorful and interesting as the girls who wear them.

Overflowing in both beauty and character, the quinceañera dress is one of the most important garments girls in Latin American families may ever choose.

Selecting the right dress can take as much time, effort and money as a wedding dress.

In fact, the story of how quinceañera dresses are created are often steeped in family history, traditions, and a mirror image of the girl who wears it.

How the quinceañera dress is born
Janet Quezada, manager of Karla Boutique on Beechnut, says it takes between two to three months on average to produce a quinceañera dress. Some can take as many as six months.

"Each piece is like an art piece. They have to be handmade usually, and not made in a factory like a prom dress," Quezada said. "The precious stones are hand sewn."

PHOTOS: Hot trends in quinceañera dresses

While there are online retailers that offer simple quinceañera dresses for a few hundred dollars, the best dresses don't come cheap.

Quezada said she consults with girls and their families, takes measurements and prepares for her team of designers in Mexico City to construct the dress by hand.

For all that work, expect to pay between $700 and $1,600 for your dream dress. On the high end, the bill could even swell to around $2,400.

Maria Herrera, owner of Sarah's Couture on Eastex Freeway, said before a single thread can be stitched, family history is also important to consider.

Girls might bring photos of dresses they like or choice colors, Herrera said, but dress designers must also consult with family members about existing traditions, especially padrinos (godparents), who usually foot the bill for the celebration.

Tips for picking the perfect quinceañera dress
Karen Lopez, marketing manager for Karla Boutique, offered these expert tips to ensure you and your dress shine on your special day:

Consider your skin tone: When choosing the color of your quinceañera dress, it's important to know which colors will compliment your skin tone, rather than wash you out. For example, if you have a light complextion, avoid champagne-colored dresses.

Make sure you are comfortable: As you try on dresses, consider that you will be wearing the garment for at least six hours. While long trains are beautiful, Lopez says some girls end up carrying the dress around as the hours progress, preventing her from showing it off.

Pick the shoes early: You will want to take the shoes you are wearing for your dress fittings. Since quinceañera dresses can be heavy, you will want to know whether you can walk comfortably.

Don't forget your tiara: Lopez also suggests bringing the tiara you want to wear. This accessory can also be fairly heavy after hours of wear, and you need to know whether it will comfortably transform your look or become a royal pain.

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