NEW YORK — Teens are always ready to party and prom dress makers are hoping that their biggest purchase will be on the dress.

Among the important trends for prom this year are short cocktail looks, dresses made of lace, glitter, sequins and beading, and of course, some red, white and blue.

At Rampage, the biggest-booking styles are sexy with a touch of glitz, and the “ballgown with a twist” is also popular, said Larry Hansel, chief executive officer. Hansel said the new ballgowns are short with changes made to make the necklines less classic looking. Gowns made of denim are the newest rage and lace is important this year, with short dresses in all styles leading the pack.

“The dresses this year have attitude. They are short and sexy. It’s sort of like the ‘Cinderella goes to the ball in New York City’ look,” he said.

Hansel said the dresses sold well for high school homecomings in October, so he hopes to see the same sales in the spring for prom.

“I really don’t think the young customer is as affected by the economy as the older customers are,” he said. “I just don’t think we are going to see the long, flowing dresses we are used to seeing. They want to look unique.”

Jessica McClintock said she thinks that prom this year will be important for families.

“Prom marks an important time in a teenager’s life. It is a sign of the kids growing up and I think prom this year will be a real family thing,” McClintock said. “Prom is also a real tradition in America, which makes the occasion this year seem even more important.”

To prepare for this, McClintock has designed a collection of prom dresses dedicated to patriotism. As an American designer, McClintock said she thought this was the way for her to express her own national pride. The collection contains a series of red, white and blue numbers in key silhouettes for this year, including fitted dresses and princess-style gowns.

“Everyone is thinking more seriously than they were in the past,” she said. “Our lives are more serious. Dresses will not be as light and fluffy as they were.”

Michael Ruff, president of Cachet, a moderate-price social-occasion dress house, said sexy is most important this spring, as well as ballerina-like dresses with a Fifties look. He said he does expect teens to go “all out as usual” for prom.

Ken Zimmerman, ceo of Emma Black and Zola Evening, said he also expects prom to be on track with last year. Although Emma Black is known for evening separates more than prom, Zimmerman said he has found success in packaging the Emma Black collection as prom pieces.

“The young, hip stores love Emma Black for prom,” he said. “They are putting their own sets together to make it their own. It gives them more variety.”

With Zola, Zimmerman said the printed silk chiffon, delicate dresses are booking well.

Designer David Meister has plans for a good spring season with a variety of offerings for prom. Key trends include asymmetrical hemlines, matte jersey looks and chiffon prints in spring colors done in halter and strapless styles.

“A girl’s prom is an important event in her life and she is still going to be looking for that special dress,” he said.

Meister said that while color is important for spring, he predicted that black will be key for prom.

“I also think girls will wear more short cocktail dresses,” Meister said. “The reason for this is twofold: It’s a reflection of what is happening in both the world and fashion and also short has not been an important issue for the last few years, so it also looks new for prom.”

Retailers such as The Bon-Ton Stores are preparing junior departments for the prom shopping rush.

“We are seeing a lot of glitter and beading and everything is long and classy,” said Mary Kerr, director of corporate communications. “Gowns are slim fit, with some long baby-doll dresses mixed in.”

Kerr said the season will have a minimal side with black and white dresses, but lots of color will also show up. She added that despite the state of the economy, the York, Pa.-based chain is coming off a good homecoming season.