The Demise of the Prom Dress
It appears I have prematurely turned into a grumpy old lady, as my sense of decency far outweighs my sense of "style." I base this horrifying conclusion on my reactions to the parade of prom fashions I was treated to while sitting in the hotel lobby during a conference this past weekend. Fortunately I was in good company as two other (young) grumpy old ladies were right next to me, sharing the lobby couch, remarking on the dresses (not loud enough for the teens to hear of course) as we watched them walk by.
One wore what I could only describe as The Streetwalker's Delight -- a skintight lycra black dress that was so short it just barely curved under her buttocks. I really don't see how she could have sat down in the dress, much less danced in it, without revealing her underwear (if she wore any, as I know wearing underwear is also terribly out of fashion these days). This was worn without stockings and with a very shiny pair of 4" heels gold pumps.
There were several versions of what I'd call the Where's The Skirt? model of prom dress -- my fellow critiquers were wondering if perhaps the Recession had caused people to simply buy half a dress. These girls wore dresses with a bodice and then what appeared to be the beginning of a ruffled skirt, but it stopped short, waaaay short, as if someone had been interrupted while sewing it. Or perhaps there was some Cinderella-and-her-evil-stepsisters types of a fight in the dressing room and the remaining ruffles were torn off. Once again, I am not sure how they managed to sit down, breathe, or dance, because half an inch of movement and all would be revealed.
To our relief, there were a few girls dressed in beautiful, age-appropriate dresses. And while a couple of them were probably more throw-backs to the gowns of my era, there were some dressed in gowns that managed to be chic and modern and yet not reveal more than they should. Some were short, some were long, some had more detail than the others and yet each complimented the girl wearing them beautifully. The girl was wearing the dress, rather than the dress wearing the girl.
I remember so vividly the many different homecoming, prom and other dance dresses I selected in high school. Wanting each one to look special on me, but also to be different from what every other girl was going to wear. Sadly, what we witnessed that night was very few girls looking special, but rather very many girls looking the same and very un-special. "Where were their parents?" my fellow critiquers and I kept asking? "How could they let them out the door like that?" Not just the girls' parents, but even the boys' parents -- I would not be terribly happy if my son went out the door with his date looking like some of those girls.
Have we lost our minds? Our taste? Our ability to parent? What has happened in our society that would allow so many young women to walk out the door dressed in such a poor manner for what should be a night when they feel like the prettiest girl in town?
What made it all that much more poignant to me is that several of us in that lobby were women who had just left an awards ceremony and were dressed in evening attire. We ranged from short to tall, thin to overweight, early twenties to "senior citizens." A variety of clothing in a variety of styles, and yet of the hundreds of women there, there weren't wildly inappropriate dresses or outfits. Was it because it was a women-only event and therefore we didn't feel the need to bare more than we should? Or is it simply the difference between a girl trying to find her identity and a woman knowing that her confidence comes from within, not from inappropriately displaying all her body parts?
Prom season is still in swing and there are charitable organizations throughout the Metro DC area that look for donations of evening gowns, shoes, jewelry, and purses (and even suits for the guys) -- I think I'll make a special effort this year to go through my closet to donate a few gowns. Perhaps they will not only help someone who could not otherwise afford one, but also help set a better example for other young women. Beauty comes in all packages, but they are even better when they are in reasonably wrapped ones!
This is an original DC Metro Moms post. When she's not grousing about "teens these days" J.J. Newby aka JavaMom writes about her own kids, life, family and anything else that crosses her mind at Caffeine And A Prayer. Photo credit: istockphoto.com © mark hunt