Prom Dress Confidential

 This is perhaps one of the most humiliating posts I recall writing. But I know all of you women out there in the  blogosphere must have some pretty hideous skeletons prom dresses in your closets as well. Tacky prom dresses are a feminine right of passage, like attempts at big Jersey hair and blue eyeshadow duos or your first hangover, bikini wax, and walk of shame. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ve all been there.

Dress #1
It’s 1989 (yes, I’m THAT old). I’m 14 and I had never been asked on a date or kissed a boy. I have more books than friends. I’m just a shy, pale L-O-S-E-R.

Suddenly, I was cast into a leading role in the school play. I ditched the bad perm and braces. And I started dating the play’s director — a SENIOR ! {gasp} With long hair! {gasp}  And an accent!
{cue Dad breaking out the shotgun}

Late one night after a performance, he knocked on the front door. I was still covered in white hair spray and old lady stage make-up. He danced me to his car while his friend played the sax in my candlelit driveway. He asked me to prom (of course I said YES) and I finally experienced my first French kiss. (ooh la la)

I believe the next day was recorded in our family history as the day I gave my mother her first grey hair. And she will never let me forget about it. 

Because of this sudden twist of fate, all the pages of dreamy satin and taffeta I had ripped out of the Seventeen Magazine Prom Edition became extremely important. Vital. A matter of life and death. I was a bookworm Cinder-fecking-rella going to the cool kid’s ball.  I had to find a dress. THE dress.   My favorite was a royal blue Jessica McClintock (for Gunne Sax?) number I drooled over in the teen fashion mags. It was only two weeks until prom, my mom was utterly UN-thrilled I was going, and I was desperate to find the dress.

Somehow, we managed to find the last one. In my size. I had my dream dress. And the matching royal blue pantyhose. And the matching dyed satin shoes. And probably the matching eyeliner as well. Now I want to gag at this over-coordinated ensemble, but back then, I thought I was the bomb.

A very, VERY nervous bomb.

The prom was uneventful. I was absolutely petrified. I was far too naive to hunt down some spiked punch in the ladies room to calm my nerves and force my tongue to work. I vaguely remember dancing to Madonna and trying to melt into the walls. My date was a perfect gentleman (despite nail polish and an off stuffed duck) and dropped me back home by my strict 12:30 curfew. Then he most likely went out with all his friends and got trashed.  I bailed on him before the prom pics even came in. I was not ready to leap from Girl Scouts to groping in a relationship with someone far older and wiser.

But at least I can say I went to Senior Prom as a Freshman.

Which is a good thing, because my actual Senior Prom blew corn nuts.

I went stag with a couple of girlfriends. I did not have a date.

But by then I had learned that poofy prom dresses were passe, for mere children, and not my style. I upgraded to reading Vogue and Glamor. I wanted to look stylish, sleek, and as sexy as I could get away with (which was not very). I wanted a dress they guys would notice, so they would not see the giant “L” glaring from my forehead. I scoured stores in probably six to ten malls in four counties until I found the one.

Dress #2
A little black sequence cocktail dress. Classic. Chic. Sparkly. Different. It was rather rebellious at the time. I freaking loved it.

(The snippet of neon satin, lace, and crinoline on the left was much more the norm still in 1992.)

So I went to prom stag. I don’t remember much: dancing with some popular girl’s boyfriend, trying to entertain my self by rating boys attempting the African Anteater Dance in their matching pink bowties and cumberbunds, sitting in a South Beach cafe after we escaped the cheesy prom venue, swinging on a sandy beach playground under the stars….

But I still have that dress.  
And I can still fit into it 19 years later without Spanx
(although a stronger bra might be beneficial).
So all those smug girls whispered about my lack of a date can just bite me.
I do mean that in the nicest way, of course.

Join in my moment of embarrassing female bonding. Do you have an ugly prom gown story to share?

Thanks to Mama Kat for inspiring this moment of weakness I shall most likely soon regret.

Things I Can't Say

34 thoughts on “Prom Dress Confidential

  1. Teresha

    Look at your figure! I'd wear a million tacky satin prom dresses to look like that.
    p.s. if you didn't wear a J McClintock prom dress you were not on trend

  2. BusyWorkingMama

    I love it!! I never went to prom, not even stag. Pathetic, I know. But I did go to a lot of Homecomings and I have one dress I wore back in, oh, 1995 I believe. Halter top mini skirt with tons of glued glitter dots. It still fits. I am keeping it as long as the glitter sticks to it.

  3. Shell

    OMG. Look at how fabulous you are! And w/o spanx? Wow.

    Hmmm…. I wonder if we can still be friends. I might just hate you.

    Just kidding, of course.

    Besides, we could be bad dress twins with that blue one- I had almost the same one for a junior high dance. Shoes and all.

  4. Michelle

    Awesome!!! You look amazing 🙂

    My prom dresses are hideous — and thankfully they would all be too big for me now! Definitely a reason I never had a date.

  5. Moomser

    I wore a very similar, short, black, sequined dress for my junior prom ('92) but I DO NOT still fit in it. I actually kind of hate you right now, but in a good – you're inspiring me to fit in my prom dress again – way. You look great! GRRRR
    (visiting from Shell's)

  6. vinobaby

    Thanks. Okay, and just to clarify, I am NOT trying to make all you lovely bloggers jealous. Just the mean girls from high school.

    Oh, and you must have good taste. Cheers.

  7. heather

    That's impressive! Great story!! I still have my prom dress and it's been well loved in the dress up drawer that my kids have used over the years. it's hideous!

  8. Kim

    Amazing!! I'm pretty sure I couldn't fit into your senior prom dress when I was a senior so go you!! 🙂 & prom as a freshman? Ballaaa status!!

  9. Kristen

    You rock that dress!!! I loved it back at your Sr. Prom and that photo is to die for!! What my hubby would do if I did something like that!! I don't think he would question a shopping trip for a year!!! This was a great story. I don't have any of those pics at my house. They are all at my parents'. Now, I can't wait to get over there and dig through them 🙂
    Great post!!!

  10. CJ@Pro Artz

    My first dress was a cheap off-the shelf light blue, spaghetti strapped, thing with a blue satin rose between my boos. For my second prom, the dress I wanted was way too expensive, so my mother and I went shopping for ideas —and she made me a simple, but elegant dress. The skirt was plain white chiffon and from the waist up was a metallic gold brocade on white. It was rather lovely, but unfortunately, I have only a photo of the ugly one (somewhere, I didn't dig it out.) But, by comparison, your blue dress is fantastic.

    Check out "My 7 Wonders" HERE.

  11. Galit Breen

    Look at you! Still totally rocking that dress!

    (And your stories with the candles and the kisses and the dresses? Perfection!)

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