Promposing Cheaper Options

The biggest event of the year is soon arriving. Students have been planning this day for months. Parents break their banks in preparation. Gossip and drama aid in building the immense anticipation. There is no question, prom is by far the most expensive and anticipated school event of all. For girls, the pressure to look fabulous results in astoundingly high expenses. Preparing for prom is no longer leisurely and enjoyable, but difficult and unpleasant for both families and students.

According to a 2015 survey from Visa, the average family spends a whopping $919 on prom. Northeasterners, however, lead with the highest amount spent on prom at $1,169. This seems like a lot, but with $231 going towards a dress, on top of hair, makeup, shoes, accessories, the ticket, and a limo, it all adds up. The average makeup artist costs $90 alone. Guys spend an average of $184 for a tuxedo, $34 for a boutonniere, and $64 for accessories.

As if the expectations for looking pretty isn’t enough, girls also face pressure from social media regarding their dress. Schools have even started creating prom dress Facebook accounts, which ensure that no two attendees have the same dress. It also, however, creates a race to buy a dress as soon as possible to allow for the most options. Instead of an enjoyable, relaxed experience, buying a prom dress is often a stressful and unpleasant event.

While prom isn’t unique to the United States, the expenses and preparation are. Rixt van der Kooi from the Netherlands explains that her experience was very easy and enjoyable. “There was nobody in the store I went to; it was not stressful,” she said. In addition, there is no form of tracking who already has what dress. “I kept my dress really secret until the last minute. People wanted to know which color they had instead. A lot of people had red or navy blue. There’s not a Facebook page or an Instagram page,” she explained. Rixt also spent about $230 on her prom dress, which is very inexpensive compared to some of the $500 dresses in America.

Although prom season can be stressful, some people look past the price tags and trends. During her senior year, Ms. Dorey realized how overwhelming prom dress shopping can really be. “I wasn’t sure how they would fit and with so many options I couldn’t decide.” After searching for a unique looking dress, she realized how the dress itself isn’t what is important. “I didn’t really care what others thought about what I wore.” To her, prom was about the experience.

However, the pressure to buy an expensive, fancy dress was still there. During Ms. Dorey’s junior year she had bought a very nice dress for $250. All of her friends had bought nice dresses as well. Senior year she bought a dress from the mall for $50. She saved money her senior year by realizing that the dresses themselves wouldn’t make or break her prom night.

Over the years, preparing for prom has become more and more stressful. Ms. Dorey had to deal with the pressures of buying a nice dress, and today the pressure has expanded to other areas as well. Even though pricing is still a major factor in buying a dress, girls have to also take into consideration the dresses their classmates buy. Going and shopping for dress entails checking the groupchat to make sure you don’t get the same dress as anyone else. Getting your dress months in advance is standard because everyone’s racing to get their dress before someone else gets the same one.

Many people overlook the cheaper options when shopping for prom. Thrifting has become a big trend recently, and many thrift stores sell used prom dresses. Thrifting a prom dress may not be ideal because there typically aren’t a lot of options. Another option is going to non-profit organizations, such as Tammi’s Closet in Amesbury. Tammi’s Closet takes donated dresses and displays them in their store for people who don’t have the money to buy a prom dress. One more suggestion would be to shop at consignment shops. Consignment stores sell used dresses for cheaper prices. This option is different from thrifting because they tend to have a bigger selection.

Although the preparations and cost of prom may be overwhelming for students and families alike, there are cheaper alternatives. In the end, prom night is about having fun and making memories that you will have forever. When looking back on prom you will remember the night and not the cost of your dress. As prom season approaches, don’t take the price tags too seriously and instead look forward to the experience itself.