Now here in England, for some strange and patriotic reason, it’s most certainly deemed cringe-worthy if you are the sort of person who ever gets over-excited about... well, anything. So naturally, ‘prom’ on our little island is basically just a slightly better (you’d hope) school disco with marginally classier attire and nosh (if you’re lucky). It’s really quite insignificant when compared with how the Americans passionately go to town on this momentous occasion. I mean, they even have BALLOONS; helium-filled with pretty ribbons and all.
I really wish we cared a smidge more about it over here. It just seems so... fun, and I feel like we are missing out, big time. It’s like a rite of passage. A FUN tradition. And your Mum has probably already mentioned to you, it is plain WRONG to monkey with tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I love 10p Freddo’s (I demand to know who signed off on upping the price of these childhood treats while also thinking it ok to make them smaller) and cheese and pineapple on a stick as much as the next girl, but I would love every girl over here to be treated to just one fairytale-like night where they can step into Cinderella’s glass slippers... beautiful princess gowns (you know, the ones that come packaged in their own large pretty ribbon-tied boxes), chivalrous suited and booted young gentlemen, something a little nicer than your school hall with someone’s uncle steeping in as DJ, and an evening without a finger buffet; that’s all I’m asking for.
Moving on... as prom is a maHUSSIVE deal in America, New York charity ‘Prom Boutique’ collects gently worn formal wear from people all across Long Island, and then distributes it (free of charge) to girls of families across the area who simply do not have the budget for a new gown for their prom, awards ceremony, or even their graduation. High school guidance counsellors, at-risk youth agencies, group homes, and church outreaches make the program available to all of their constituents.
Teens who have already experienced one of high school’s pinnacle moments are kindly donating the special dresses they wore to this cause:
"I got such great use out of the dress when I got to use it myself and I know what the dress meant to me," one donor explained, "I hope someone would get the same enjoyment out of it."
"They are thrilled to be giving their dresses new legs," said Lola Intagliata of Clear Skin Salon (one of the many collection sites). "They enjoyed wearing it at their prom, now they're looking forward to having another girl have the experience they had."
Prom Boutique has donation sites all across Long Island, and collects about 3000 dresses every year; not only offering girls dresses, but accessories and alterations too. They are accepting dress donations up until April 22nd; and for those of you who may be in the area, you can find the collection site nearest to you here.
Over 1,300 girls benefited in 2011, from 65 different schools and non-profit youth organizations across Long Island. Created in 1992 to improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders, the ‘Long Island Volunteer Center’ is a non-profit organization that encourages people to engage in service to their communities and mobilizes volunteers and donations to support community service initiatives.
"They're allowed to shop for dresses, they find their sizes, it's all colour coordinated," said Anne Sprotte, Prom Boutique coordinator. "And they go into the fitting room and they come out and their eyes are sparkling, their moms are crying."
Donors are very happy to be a part of making these special moments possible, and have no reservations about sharing their finest threads.
Prom Boutique is most definitely style with a cause.
Reading this article – I’m not afraid to say - got me all excited and very much into the spirit of prom! I had a little hunt around, and found some absolute gems on the online Oxfam shop, which are perfect for prom, or a similar swanky evening affair...
But if you can’t find one to suit your style on there or in your local charity shops, why not try making your own? Or upcycling an outdated dress you already have? All of you textile/fashion kids should have no problems at all; but if sewing terrifies you from afar, then enlist the help of your nan/mum/bestie to whip up your dream dress. Go all out. No holding back. Remember, you won’t ever get to go back and do this again.
And if you have an evening dress that has long been sitting in the back of your wardrobe, why not donate it to your local charity shop, or someone you know who would really appreciate it? A beautiful dress, after all, deserves to be seen.