October 4, 2009

Dressing Up

I hear parents talking about how expensive school dances are. The dress, the hair, the shoes, etc.

The year I spent the most on my daughter's dress for her high school's homecoming dance was the year that she was most disappointed in how she looked. The first year, she was a freshmen, therefore not technically eligible to go the dance, except as someone's date. So we did not have a lot of advance notice for shopping. We looked all over town, found a dress we could live with, and paid full price for it. We weren't the only ones. There were a couple of other people at the dance in the very same dress.

The next year, planning ahead a bit, we found a dress in an outlet store in Branson, and spent $35. Much better. Much cheaper. And no one else had one.

This year, I found a vintage dress at a Goodwill. The price? $12.

The result?

The best she's looked yet. I did her hair, because a $4 can of Aquanet makes up for a lack of skills on my part. The necklace is vintage rhinestones, from when I was in school. She wore a pair of black pumps that she already had.

Including the boutonniere for the boy, the hairspray, the pins & combs for her hair, and the new eyeshadow, and the earrings that she didn't end up wearing, I spent less than $40.

Thrift stores are full of beautiful formals. Some take a bit of imagination, although nothing so drastic as Pretty in Pink. Some need a trip to the cleaners. And, truthfully, it helps if the person you're dressing is thin, as I have not seen a wide selection of fabulous size 16 dresses looking for a home. But taking time to look through those racks can show gems hidden among polyester satin monstrosities.


  1. You ladies are so funny. This reminds me of the kid who gets lavish gifts for Christmas and plays with the boxes. There's something about the simple in all of us. Part of being human I guess.

    Thanks for the post.

    Mike Teacher Food

  2. I would love to be able to give away the closet full of formals, bridesmaid dresses, and cocktail dresses that I've accumulated over the years to someone who I knew could use them. I don't know if they are quite "vintage enough" to be cool yet. Waiting for electric blue sequin mini dresses to come back in style ;).

  3. This is great. I have always enjoyed getting gifts to ladies especially to near ones. But, this ongoing recession has forced us all to rethink about our decisions on gifting expensive gifts, isn't it?

  4. @Mike-- I loved the boxes. I would decorate them and make doll houses out of them. I had the best time.

    @Country Gone City-- My daughter has not actually ventured out in public in any dresses that I actually owned. There is something about seeing a dress on a rack, I think, that does the trick. Like you, I am not sure what is "cool" vintage versus "uncool" vintage. Beauty, in this case, is definitely in the eye of the teenager. :)

  5. Really good purchase for $12. You people appear to be rather tall, no?

  6. I entirely agree that thrift stores are a definite must when it comes to finding formalwear for occasions like that. You'll never wear the same thing as someone else under that circumstance, and if you only spend $12, you won't feel bad about trying to make alterations to it and screwing them up.

  7. So true!!! So true.
    I love thrift stores.

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