Those of us who were teens in the 1980s cannot forget the iconic films of the John Hughes’ movie canon, and, specifically, his teen-centric films, which taught us that geeks can get some, and that the prom is epitome of social life, an event at the end of the culmination of four years of study. Prom, with its resplendent ability to both lift and deflate hopes and dreams, is a can’t-miss rite-of-passage for high schoolers.
With that said, you cannot ever, ever try to alter or fix a vintage prom gown, a la Molly Ringwald’s “Andie” in Hughes’ 1986 masterpiece, “Pretty in Pink.” To refresh your memory, as Andie prepares for prom, she has to contend with her debilitating poverty – how will she find a dress? Luckily she’s blessed witha keen fashion sense. What she does is co-opt her boss Iona’s (Annie Potts) absolutely lovely, retro, pink polka-dotted, early 1960s pink prom dress, as well as a pathetic pink dress her disheveled father (Harry Dean Stanton)scrounged to buy her, and turn it into a prom icon so said Time magazine. The distinctively 1980s, unflattering frock iscelebrated by the film’s supportive and supporting characters, despite the audience’s profound shock and disappointment. To further refresh your memory:
There are ways to save on a prom dress, and the least expensive option is the one often recommended by teen magazines: hit the thrift stores. If you don’t sew well, or have creative vision, you could choose, with all intended irony, a vintage formal gown. There are actually plenty of them available, and often range in price (depending on the town in which you shop, the type of charity shop, and what sales may be in place) from $6.99 to $19.99. We find the most common type of formal gown you’re likely to find at a second-hand or thrift store is a bridesmaid gown. This means, funky colorsbearing the marks of some serious partying. The other danger in getting a dress from a thrift store is that you run the risk of looking too costume-y or looking like an actual bridesmaid.
So turn to the Internet and look for prom dresses for sale online. You can try department stores or specialty shops, or stores that specifically cater to the prom-going population. Some of them, like the Chicago-based Peaches Boutique, for example, not only have thousands of dresses available online, but also in a brick-and-mortar shop. Peaches and other prom-centric stores hold regular sales, so you’re very likely to get a bargain.
As experienced Internet shoppers we do have suggestions for you; it is always best to go to the shop’s sale section first. Search in whatever way you find easiest and get an idea of the colors, styles, and size availability or just peruse all of the sales pages. Depending on your size, you’re most likely to find a gown if you’re at the very low or very high end of the scale. The first sizes to sell out, are, unsurprisingly, dresses in the middle or average range.
If you must go to the non-sale area for an online shop, you’re still likely to get a deal, since their overhead is low and their stock plentiful.
Websites that offer prom dresses for sale online are fully aware they’re selling dresses that must fit, so be sure you read the actual measurements and sizes of dresses. If you are accustomed to wearing knits or loose-fitting dresses, it’s a very different sensation and issue when you’re planning to wear something that is fitted and “sealed” with a zipper. It has to fit.
You may worry that you won’t find exactly what you want but you shouldn’t since you’re likely to have many, many choices. It will surprise you, but you’re likely to find prom dresses on sale online you’ll like and will flatter your figure. Start planning early and don’t wait for the last minute.