Proms aren't typical red carpets for Disney stars

SAMANTHA CRITCHELL AP Fashion Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- Debby Ryan and Laura Marano get dressed up more than average teenagers: As Disney Channel starlets, they've done their fair share of red carpets. But, they say, there's still something special -- and different -- about picking a dress for a school dance and, especially, the prom.

"On the red carpet, I'm more worried about looking like I'm not going to the prom. I might be potentially more casual. For a school dance, I can go for it, and for the prom, I will pretend I'm a princess," says Marano, star of "Austin & Ally."

When the time comes, the 16-year-old suspects there'll be another factor in her decision: the boys at school. "At the prom, you are more about boys thinking you're cute. On the red carpet, you have to please everyone because there are a lot more people looking at those pictures. But," she adds, "from the dances, you will still have photos but you don't have to show everyone."

Ryan and Marano came armed with several prom-worthy dresses to The Associated Press' headquarters in Manhattan to talk about their style and how they are growing into the roles of fashionistas alongside their acting gigs. Even for the early-morning interview they came dressed to the nines with Ryan in a floral blouse with contrasting floral skirt, black tights and super-high heels and Marano wearing a coordinated patchwork of different textures and colors paired with peep-toe booties.

At a prom, however, they might be twins since, when it was time to peruse the dance dresses, they both went for the blousoned white one with a beaded metallic skirt. Marano also loves the cobalt color of a one-shoulder, full-length column gown, while Ryan sees glamour potential in a platinum dress covered in pleats.

Upon further consideration, Ryan picked up a short pink strapless dress with a fitted bodice. She likes the color but wonders if the tiered skirt is "a little too tutu?"

"I think I'd have to add a little black tulle to the bottom to make it a little more rock 'n' roll," says Ryan, 18, who stars on the series "Jessie," was on "The Suite Life on Deck" and had a prom scene in the TV movie "Radio Rebel." She also attended her own hometown prom in Keller, Texas, so, she says, she's a veteran of golf ball-sized sequins, a rainbow of colors and the whole boots-with-ballgown look.

"It's all about creating a moment to remember," Ryan says, adding that the prom for many girls is a turning point between childhood and being an adult -- it's a chance to make a statement both about who you've been and who you want to be. A red carpet is more businesslike, she describes, with a chorus of people giving advice and approvals on an outfit, she explains, while a prom is more personal.

She keeps her prom photo -- she's in a "Charlie's Angels" pose with her friends wearing a blush-colored dress with flowers at the neckline -- on her bookshelf with her other prized possessions, including her collections of cameras and vinyl records.

In typical teenage fashion, Marano says she'd consult her friends before finalizing her look. "I will ask, 'What are you wearing?' (and) 'How are you wearing it?' and 'What exactly are you wearing to the dance?'"

Marano so far has only attended school dances, including one with an undersea-adventure theme that posed some style dilemmas, but she plans to attend the prom at her Los Angeles-area high school when the time comes. Here's what she won't wear there: nothing neon, probably not white and definitely no hemline much above her knees. "I don't want a dress that's too short. I will end up sitting awkwardly all night long thinking, 'This dress was too short.'"