Prom dresses: the dilemma, the solutionFeb 03, 2023 07:54AM ● By Jet Burnham
Providence Hall High School students hope to have a large selection of formal wear options to borrow to attend the prom. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)
As Providence Hall High School student council members discussed plans for four formal and semiformal dances for the year, they came to the issue of whether they could really ask students to buy another dress or another suit.
“It can be a lot of work to figure out what dress do I want, on top of already having to pay for day dates and dinners that are slightly more expensive than if you just went fast food, and paying for dance tickets,” Student Body President McKenzie Capito said.
If students buy a new dress for each dance, it can add up to several hundred dollars.
“You want to look nice, you want to present yourself, so it makes sense that you want to spend this money,”Student Body Vice President of Activities Giovanna Garcia said. “But it's not always the most affordable. Sometimes, personally, I don't go out of my way to buy a dress for that reason. That's one of the reasons I sometimes think I don't even know if I want to go to this dance because the effort of choosing a dress‒it takes time.”
Capito and her friend spent an entire day going from store to store last year, and still didn’t find a dress for prom.
While some students borrow dresses from their sister or friends, it’s not always an option because of style or size differences, Garcia said.
“No one wants to be left out,” Garcia said. “People want to have fun, they want to go to these dances and you not having a dress or a suit shouldn’t limit that opportunity.”
To address the concerns, the 28 members of the student council decided to build a lending library of formal and semi formal wear for boys and girls that students can borrow to attend school dances. They named it Project Riot Runway by shortening the name of their mascot, the Patriots, into Riot. They believe the name reflects that this resource is for everyone, not just one small group of students.
Members of the current and past student body and their families have donated some items already. The student council is now asking community members for donations of formal and semi formal dresses, accessories, suits, ties and shoes in good condition. Capito said recycling these pieces of clothing is a more sustainable option than throwing them away or storing them away for years.
Donations are being accepted at the front office of Providence Hall High School located at 4557 W. Patriot Ridge Drive. Questions can be directed to [email protected].
Providence Hall High School’s prom is scheduled for the end of April. The students hope Project Riot Runway will have enough inventory by then to accommodate every student who wants to find something in the collection that they feel comfortable wearing.
“The more sizes you have, the more options you have, the more confident you’re going to feel in what you’re wearing,” Garcia said.
The student council budget will cover dry cleaning costs. Students will also have the option to purchase an outfit, with proceeds going toward maintenance and storage costs of the collection. Capito hopes that when students have the option to borrow clothing instead of buying it, more of them will attend school dances.
“We save them that $100 that they spend on a dress and instead they can spend that on tickets,” she said. “That directly reimburses us because we have more student participation coming in the dances and more tickets sold, which in turn continues to fund the project and everything else that we do within the school.”
The student council is always looking for motivation to encourage student involvement in school activities and is confident the council will continue to maintain and grow the collection beyond this school year.
“We've expressed the interest that if it were able to get big enough and we had enough dresses, potentially expanding to the other big high schools in our area and getting them involved as well,” Capito said.