Monday, February 02, 2009

Fashion Don'ts

On Friday, I picked up an issue of Seventeen magazine, specifically the prom issue, because I was feeling a little nostalgic. (I eagerly awaited the prom issue every year, back when I subscribed.) Because I have an event coming up that I might be attending which would require formal wear, I was really looking forward to coming back from my lunch and flipping through hundreds of pages of pretty princess dresses.

Obviously, that didn’t happen, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Instead, my jaw dropped as I went through page after page of the most horribly ugly dresses I have ever seen in my life. Dresses that looked like they were made of cellophane or latex. Dresses with metal studs and enough accordion pleating to make even the most petite girl look like the Liberty Bell. Tie-dyed, fluorescent, psychedelic palm-frond print dresses. Most memorably, a dress which combined an oversized floral motif and a pink and blue leopard print with no success whatsoever.

Now, I know styles change. I know it’s been ten years since I attended my own prom. However, this is reminding me very much of a mistake I made in choosing my own prom dress, a mistake I don’t want you to make. I chose my dress based on the body I wished I had, not on the body I actually had. As a result, I shudder every time I see my prom pictures. (Part of that, admittedly, could be about my date, but I really think most of it is about the dress.)

Prom is a huge deal. You’re going to have these pictures and these memories for the rest of your life. So, please, choose carefully, and be true to yourself. If you feel that orange and green zebra print is really you, then put it on and rock it. But, if you’re only trying on that metallic paisley maxi-dress because Seventeen says prints are really in, take a moment and ask yourself, “What would Penelope Cruz do?” Then try something on that you know suits you.

Jacquelyn Sylvan is the author of Surviving Serendipity, a YA fantasy that takes place in a world where damsels in distress are so last season. Buy it here, or download to your Kindle here!


Regan Black said...

Too true! I had lots of formals in those years and my fave dress was one my mom made that fitted me, my style, and the occasions perfectly!


Pam Ripling said...

Would this be a good time and place to whine about not going to the prom? On my list of "ten things I screwed up in my life" - My boyfriend at the time was very anti-establishment (popular back then, won't say when that was) and he thought proms were stupid. So, I went along with that philosophy. I regret it to this day.

Girls, you go to the prom. I mean it. And there's no shame in going single or with BFFs. Jackie and Regan are dead on about the dress, too!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

I shudder when I see any of the styles for YA these days! And it's not just the ones baring too much skin - most do not seem designed with the young woman's body in mind. My pet peeve is with hip-huggers. Less that 5% of the population actually looks GOOD in them. (For everyone else, that's where the term 'muffin top' originated.)
Think I'll skip the horrors of the prom dresses this year...

L. Diane Wolfe

©DGreer said...

What would Hannah Montana do? I'm with you on the too-bare dresses and am glad that young girls are showing more sense than their elders with this trend toward a bit of modesty. You go girls! Teach your parents by example, and maybe they'll "get it", too.


Gayle Carline said...

I was in the anti-establishment generation, didn't go to prom and still don't regret it. Just wasn't my thing, I guess.

Now that I have a teenager (boy), I notice that most of his friends go to prom as a big group, instead of pairing off. They all look very pretty, boys as well as girls!

Susan Kelley said...

Great post. As a high school teacher, I dread prom season and the drama. Lots of the girls bring pictures in to show me, and most of them are lovely. Our school is doing a great thing this year. A dress exchange. The price of formal dresses is so outrageous that some girls are left out. This way, and many former students and teachers are donating dresses, everyone hopefully will find a dress. It started out as an idea to help the girls who can't afford a new dress and turned into something where any one can participate. Help someone out if you have dresses from years gone by. I bet your local high schools know someone in need.

Norm Cowie said...

I never went either - I don't look very good in a dress.


Iris said...

My school hosted a dress exchange/discount sale too. It seemed that all went well, however it was mostly cheerleader-sized dresses there...

Haven't been to any formals (only a sophomore @ a school with no homecoming dance) but I still like to look at the dresses. And I agree, it seems that "high-end" fashion is going of the deep end with more frills and poofs than 1750s London. At least we haven't gone all the way back to powdered wigs and pantiers. (But the Liberty Bell skirts certainly give the impression)

So I am not impressed by current formal trends, I think I will stick with the technically-out-of-fashion-but-has-better-appeal-than-any-dress-not-on-the-sale-rack dresses if the occasion arises. And to give proper credit, I did wear a great semi-formal dress to a ceremony where I gave a speech. (I was trying on random stuff with a friend at the mall and it looked awesome!)