Dressed to Impress

A local boutique is transforming prom traditions one glittering gown at a time.

By Maria Allen 

Photography by Al Lacerda Photography

It’s prom season on the South Shore and Julie Costa is surrounded by racks of dazzling dresses. The owner of a small-but-mighty clothing boutique in Bridgwater called Miss Louise Prom Closet, Costa has developed a local following for her incredible selection of high-end formalwear. From silk sheath dresses and elegant lace looks to princess-style ballgowns and chic sequin numbers, the options are endless. What’s even more impressive, however, is that each designer gown in her shop is available to rent at an affordable price.

For a generation raised on popular online clothing rental services like Rent the Runway, the concept of renting designer styles isn’t particularly new. However, Costa’s local model offers even greater cost savings and unparalleled customer service. 

Costa’s dreams of opening her own shop first began percolating in 2020. A single mom who had recently been laid off due to the pandemic, Costa wanted to find a way to give back to the local community. What began as a simple plan to collect donated prom dresses for girls in need, quickly evolved into a small business idea.


Julie Costa is the owner of Miss Louise Prom Closet, the only female-owned formal rental shop in New England.

“I wanted to do something that would help people coming out of the pandemic,” says Costa. “The average cost to purchase formal prom dresses can range anywhere from $300 to $800. My goal is to relieve some of the stress and hardship on parents and make it possible for them to still provide something special for their kids.” 

In May of 2021, Costa dipped her toe in the water by opening a reservation-only rental dress shop in a tiny 200-square-foot basement unit. By August of that same year, the popularity of her services had grown so significantly that she was able to relocate to a cheerful 800-square-foot retail space with three dressing rooms. “For my first Prom season I had over 400 rentals, not even counting the girls I sponsored,” says Costa, who gifts some dresses to girls in need for free. “I now have over 4,000 dresses in my shop that are all for rent.” 

In addition to proms, the shop rents dresses to customers attending black-tie weddings, graduation parties, non-profit fundraiser galas, and more. Costa offers dresses in size 00 to 26 and tries to keep her prices very affordable. Formal prom dresses rent for $40, mother-of-the-bride dresses go for $30, and above-the-knee homecoming dresses cost just $20 to rent. Shoes, jewelry and accessories are also available at the shop. For an additional $20 reservation fee, Costa will put dresses aside a month in advance and customers are allowed to make alterations to the dresses to ensure a perfect fit. Returns are also stress free as Costa covers the cost for professional dress cleaning. 

While Costa didn’t set out to transform the prom industry, she now operates the only female-owned formal rental shop in New England. For Costa, every day is exciting and it is gratifying seeing the joy on her customer’s faces. “How can you not be happy when you get to play dress-up every day?”