Prom On The Cheap


Resale stores have fabulous frocks

By Emily Smith

As the 2009 prom season fast approaches, ’tis but a force of nature that many young high school girls will scavenge like hungry vultures in search of the perfect dress. And for unfathomable reasons, some parents will end up spending upwards of $500 to make little Molly’s prom dreams come true.
Unfortunately, nowadays $500 may seem like a bargain compared with some of the ridiculous prices out there. I can assure you, it is not! For this reason alone, I am a megaphone-in-hand advocate for the exponential benefits of secondhand shopping — even for prom!
Whether you have an ample budget or are trying to save money in this uncertain economy, finding fabulous prom wear is as simple as visiting a couple of secondhand and vintage specialty stores. Soon, that wince-worthy price tag will be a thing of the past.

In the early to mid-1990s, during the height of my prom-attending, formidable years, I distinctly remember begging my parents for a fully beaded, fuchsia “gown.”
Oh, yes, this dress was a “gown” and could have easily slipped into Miss America’s closet undetected. Like good parents do, my parents put up little resistance before caving in and purchasing my heart’s desire.
While the gown’s liquid bugle-beading tipped the scales at 15-plus pounds, its weight alone could not quite compete with the set of massive, admiral-esque shoulder pads, falling gracefully into sheer, beaded, long sleeves. But, the pièce de résistance of this fine evening wear had to be the heart-shaped cutout framing my underage décolletage.
Had they been handing it out, I’m sure I could have taken home the crown for Biggest Hair/Heaviest Ensemble, but instead, I’m left merely with my fading memories. Oh, and that hideously expensive dress emblazoned on a dissembled set of 8x10s, 5x7s, and wallet-sized treasures.
Surprisingly, photographs did the dress a great injustice. I remember leaving the house looking flawless. Seeing the photographs of my admitted fashion disaster could only be compared to laying eyes on Niagara Falls for the first time … Man, oh, man, that’s a LOT of water.
You live and learn. To be equipped with the knowledge and fashion sense that I have now during my prom days would be priceless. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a dress, why not try a hand at being thrifty and creative?
Remember Molly Ringwald in the movie “Pretty in Pink”? Her character had little money to work with, but used her imagination (combined with her mad seamstress skills) to create a frock worthy of praise and able to stand the test of time.


This month, I am looking for inventive, original and one-of-a-kind prom ideas for girls who want to live outside the box. Shining like a star on prom night does not have to break your bank.
While finding a great dress is cornerstone, always remember the importance of accessories. Gloves, jewelry, hats and bags are all reasonably priced finds at local secondhand hot spots that can add pop to whatever attire you discover. Once your outfit is pieced together, you can pat yourself on the back for saving enough of your prom dough to start a college fund. All it takes is a little detailed scavenging to find something completely original and uniquely you! And, hopefully, when you find yourself tripping down memory lane to Prom 2009, your memories won’t be nearly as grim as mine.

Categories: Features