Prom dresses tend to remind most teenage girls that spring really is upon us- with bright-colored displays of satin and taffeta dresses popping up far sooner than the first bursts of tulips. Unfortunately, with prices for many designs hovering around $500, princess-worthy prom dresses are only a fantasy for too many high school students, whose families can’t afford to buy that one special gown, and prom season is certainly not short of its fair share of drama concerning dress-repeats among friends.
Teenage girls who have scoured local store racks for weeks in search of the perfect prom dress will readily tell you that there is no high school clothing misstep more mortifying than the one experienced when a girl comes face to face with someone else wearing the very same gown on the oh-so-special night. Oh, the horror! To help girls avoid such embarrassment, and to encourage them to keep buying fancy gowns that typically cost around $200, shops across the country have been offering a special service: They’re keeping registries of gown purchases, sometimes even refusing to sell the same dress to girls from the same school.
In addition to the fear of wearing the same gown as another gal, trying to find a dress that fits your specific tastes can be another prom nightmare feared by many grils. “For kids that want to dress modestly there’s not an option out there…It’s torture,” said senior Samantha Scotti. Though particularly exasperating for girls with religious concerns or conservative tastes, the dilemma of decency in prom fashions is one all parents can understand. “That’s what’s reflected on the red carpet. Prom is the Oscars for high school students. That’s what they see and that’s what they want,” said Scotti.
With prices for prom dresses ranging from $125 to $500 at popular department stores like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, young women are more determined than ever to make sure their gown will be the only one of its kind at their respective proms. Typically, specialty dress shops maintain lists of area high schools, register young women and their purchases–including style, color and size–and warn shoppers from the same schools away from styles already purchased by schoolmates. Senior Alexa Vinceguerra doesn’t allow such a minute detail of the big night phase her and states, “You have to be able to dance in it. It has to fit your personality and it has to be original. Prom dresses are such one-shots, almost like bridesmaid’s dresses.”
In my opinion, modest yet stylish gowns are so hard to find that girls who must have them are forced to take extreme measures. They often sew their own gowns or alter a dress to make it acceptable. Additionally, girls should be allowed to wear any dress that they desire, without having to be concerned of other girls opinions or respective dress choices. It doesn’t matter if another girl has the same exact dress as you, because everybody looks different due to their own unique body shape and style.
The process of getting a prom dress is much longer than it has to be. Girls spend months looking for their ideal dress, wasting time that could have been so much more productively spent. Prom should be all about having fun as one of your last nights as a high-school student. The night should not be devoted to stress and anxiety due to a dress. Ultimately, girls have every right to care about what they wear- but maybe they should be more concerned about the night that lies ahead of them rather than what they’re wearing.