Prom: Dress Shopping Then and Now

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I remember prom. Promenade. Yes, it’s been ten years or more since I have gone, but I remember my prom gowns and experiences with mixed emotions. Unlike wedding dress shopping, I felt that shopping for prom was more of a chore. Maybe it was the teenager emotions. It seems times have changed though, since girls now have endless options--I had about FOUR stores within 90 miles in any direction to choose from. The internet was for research. It was boring. Department stores really didn't have much of a prom line, maybe 5-6 styles to choose from if any at all. They were usually more of the funeral frock variety as I recall.

Now...selections are almost overwhelming. So, enter the next conundrum faced by an eager prom-going girl--cost. My favorite memory of the ubiquitous, traditional dance was being a “punch server” in my seventh grade year. My dress was simple—it would be social suicide to “show up” a real prom attendee, you know the seniors—so I tried to find something understated. I had a great time with my fellows that night and the dress was the cheapest and most simple I ever wore. Purple, sequined top, lightweight floor-length satin bottom with a sheer overlay that was iridescent turquoise.

After that, as an upperclassman, I never worried about being asked, because I had a high school sweetheart. I just had to worry about the dress. My junior year I spent too much. I felt like Cinderella and I had perhaps one of the nicest dresses that night—even after the Grand March for our city those remarks were floating about. But the feelings I have today are still rather guilt-ridden, since of course, I’ve never worn it again!

My senior and last year at the prom, I wore a dress that I found as a bargain and it really was adorable. It was strapless and I didn’t love that aspect, but everything stayed in place! The downside and the part I remember from this prom: getting kicked out. Yes, my sweetie and I made some poor choices that night. Almost everyone at the prom had, but we were the ones that got caught. So, my gorgeous dress was worn for just shy of three hours. At least I have pictures, right?

As I look around in thrift stores these days they are FILLED with prom gowns. My most expensive dress seems to pale in comparison to some of the extravagant numbers that I see now. As I walk by and see price tags that read $12.00 and $20.00, I feel sad knowing they still will not likely ever sell. There is a stigma, at least one I notice in my area, about a used prom dress. I’d love to see that stigma die. But, I am happy that there are store out there that still sell the designer look for much less. There are options for these young girls growing up in such a material world.

For less than $100, you can look like a princess with a little punk attitude in this fun number offered by JenJenHouse. I'd personally try to rock the lime green version! There are several dresses that I would LOVE to wear! Quite honestly, even though prom is long since over for me, I hope I get an excuse to wear a prom-like dress again sometime! I am drawn to looking at them in department stores and at thrift stores—thankfully, common sense takes over and I realize I have no reason for a pretty dress right now. Maybe someday! Or maybe I’ll get lucky and one day I’ll have a little girl to take prom dress shopping. I hope when that day comes, I’ll find a quality, beautiful dress for a bargain price.

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