Here in New England, the deep snows are finally melting and there are small but unmistakable signs that Spring is almost here…like the mad, chaotic frenzy that is The Prom. Although the big event is still two months away, the local Facebook pages are literally sizzling with everything prom-related. Being a fairly inefficient and clueless mom, I was completely unprepared for the commitment I was making when I agreed to help my daughter prepare for her first prom.

I’m dating myself here, but it’s been exactly 30 years since I went shopping for my first prom gown with my mom. I distinctly remember traipsing through the only mall within 50 miles, looking for that perfect dress. Back then, the perfect gown was a Prairie-styled, Gunne Sax gown by Jessica McClintock. The one I wanted was made of calico printed in a sweet, tiny-floral pattern, with sheer puff sleeves and ruffled wrists. Sadly, my mom refused to pay $180 for the dress of my dreams, insisting she could make me a much prettier gown for a fraction of the cost. I remember lying on my bed in tears while my dad patiently explained that my dress would be hand-made, not home-made. It would be beautiful. I was sure that I was going to be the laughingstock of the prom; the only one without a modern dress. In the end, the white-eyelet and satin dress my mother made was simple and sweet and completely beautiful.

Flash forward to today and the prom dresses are glamorous designs with red carpet appeal. Plunging bodices and bare backs, deeply slit skirts and slinky, shimmering fabric with beaded embellishments. I am completely stunned at the idea of my teenaged daughter wearing something so overtly sexy, but if I express my dismay, I’ll be seen as outdated and clueless about current fashion.

So I’ll remember the excitement of my own prom, and do my best not to seem too out of touch with the world my daughter is growing up in.

14 Responses to “Spring Awakening”
  1. Alina D says:

    Hi Karen! I love the pic from your Prom. Your dress was beautiful! I didnt go to my prom. I wasn’t seeing anyone at the time and didn’t wanna spend all that money just to go by myself. It’s been 12 years since then, and I do regret not going, simply because I think it’s one of those things you should always do once. I did however make up for prom dresses. I was involved with these youth organizations called Demolay and Jobs Daughters, and we had to wear lots of formal dresses to stuff. And then when I married my hubby we had the Marine Corps Ball every year too. So I did get my girly dress fix, lol! Good luck with finding a dress for your daughter. Mine is only 6 so I still have a few years before I have to do it!

    Have a wonderful day!!! :)

  2. Karen Foley Karen Foley says:

    Hi Alina, I’m glad you got your girly dress fix! There is a promenade at the high school before the prom, so that all the parents can see the kids in their finery before they head out. While most of the girls do have dates, there are also lots of girls who go with their girlfriends, so it’s not uncommon to see three and four girls come down the promenade, arms linked. I think they get the biggest cheers!

  3. Aurora says:

    I didn’t go to prom, first of all no money and second of all I have bad memories of homecoming and had no desire to repeat the experience. I did go to after hours though in a soft purple dress that’s been in my family for well, a long number of years. (Not kidding,) and served as formal dress and had a great time :) I don’t regret not going to the prom because lets be honest; I would have had a miserable time there being alone without a date or any group of friends.

    • Karen Foley Karen Foley says:

      Aurora, I completely understand! My date in the prom photo actually broke up with me about a week before the prom, but his mother made him take me anyway. Ironically, I was crowned Prom Queen, but I was probably the most miserable girl there that night. I was also home by 10:15….exactly fifteen minutes after the prom ended! So not such great memories, lol.

  4. katie says:

    I think I had all of those Jessica McClintock dresses, too! I had to laugh, on “Glee”, when Rachel wore one two weeks ago, I laughed hysterically thinking, “I HAD ONE OF THOSE (and I still do somewhere!)”.

    I am out of touch, too. Plunging necklines and dresses cut up to hither, I would not do well as a Mom of a girl these days (I am not for high neck, either, but there is a happy medium). Fortunately, I have three boys. My youngest has girlfriends in kindergarten, so I told my husband, he has to start early with that one (with ‘The Talk”). ROTFL. :)

    • Karen Foley Karen Foley says:

      Oh, too funny! I wish I had caught that episode of Glee! Your little guy sounds like he’s already a heartbreaker, lol!

      • katie says:

        He actually came home from the first day of kindergarten and told me, “Mom, I have a girlfriend” and he’s now up to about three. One day, he said to me, “Mom…so and so is SO pretty, she had a flower in her hair”. Man, I gotta watch that one. My Oldest is noticing girls, too (he’s in the fifth grade). I tell you, my house is whacky these days….Good thing my middle son thinks that girls are gross (you know how 3rd graders are).

  5. Cathy W says:

    My own Junior prom was almost 20 years ago….and I went with a friend from when I was a toddler that I hadn’t seen in 10 years. I was making my dress, but didn’t get it quite finished in time. I had to drive 1.5 hours each way to pick up my date, and I stopped by a mall on the way and bought a cheapy dress (couldn’t afford anything else). It was print when every one else had solids. No one had nearly as much fun as I did at that prom!! Not having a ‘real’ date and not really worrying about spoiling my dress meant no pressure, just fun. I wore that dress many times after that, too!

    My daughter may only be 2, but I am certainly appalled at the styles I see on teens!! I have to agree with Katie – there must be a happy medium!!

    • Karen Foley Karen Foley says:

      What a great story, Cathy, and what a good friend you were! When it came time for my senior prom, my boyfriend ditched me to go on a canoe trip with his buddies, so I went with a guy-pal and we had such a great time! (I guess I didn’t have great luck with boyfriends back then.) I borrowed a dress from a friend and it really was amazing how stress-free the entire evening was!

  6. I married my prom date! Not several years later, though. :D

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