Too poor for prom? No way!

April 17, 2007|by E. L. SYVERSON

Ladies and gentlemen, I have bad news. Due to rising prices of just about everything, I will not be attending my junior prom. But please, bite your tongues. Hold back your outraged exclamations. I know how much I will be missed.

But let me explain why.

In the beginning of the year, when fellow students were all aquiver with curiosity about who was going to the homecoming dance, I made no plans to go. I saved my money for prom.

But now that prom is here, my search for the proper dress and accoutrements has been halted by a series of price tags.

I searched online, as always, for the perfect dress and the shoes to match. Even inexpensive dresses at local shops, such as Formal Den at Valley Mall, are $200. And the "perfect dress," I am sad to report, is somewhere around $400. My entire prom budget is somewhere around $200, max. So I stopped looking.


Do not despair, though. There is still hope for students who are determined to attend prom but have little cash. Even if every time you open your wallet and all you see are Washingtons and Lincolns, you can still enjoy yourself on that night we're supposed to remember forever.

There are less expensive places to get fancy dresses. Look in department stores for dresses at a fraction of the price you find at "prom warehouse." Sure, these dresses are mass produced, and there's a chance you might run into someone at the prom with the same outfit, but that's better than not going, isn't it?

You can also try second-hand stores and vintage shops. Dresses are one-of-a-kind and usually in good shape. And you can't beat the price. Places such as Goodwill, L & L, and Act II in Hagerstown have prices that anyone can afford. But shop early.

And what about shoes? Stores such as Target and Payless offer shoes and clutches at reasonable prices while remaining in style. Jewelry isn't always a hassle, either. Ask your mom if she has anything that you could borrow for the night. If her collection isn't to your liking, try Claire's Boutique at Valley Mall or shop at Wal-Mart. Pretty, shiny things can be had for $6 if you look hard enough.

Guys have it lucky - they can rent their prom outfits and still look like James Bond. The average tuxedo costs somewhere between $200 and $400, if you buy it. Rates for a good, rented tuxedo start around $60. To complete the outfit, add vest, shoes, shirt, cufflinks and tie. That will add a bit to the cost. Formal Den at Valley Mall will rent the full package for $90 to $140, depending on style. Men's Wearhouse at FSK Mall in Frederick, Md., will rent the tux package for $80 to $150.

Average price for a corsage starts around $13 and can go up to about $50, depending on what you ask for. It usually has a simple rose and ribbon to start. Boutonnieres start around $6 for a simple carnation and can go up to about $25 for something more extravagant.

What about activities after prom? What's fun and cheap? Do you like bowling? Do you want to grab dessert at Denny's? IHOP? Waffle House? If your school doesn't have after-prom activities already set up, there are a few low-cost, all-night eateries in the Hagerstown area where you and your date can spend some quality time together.

My last recommendation: Don't fret about your cash flow problems interfering with your special night. There are plenty of options. You're supposed to have fun, so do it.

On second thought, maybe I should take my own advice.

Really inexpensive gowns

This year, there's another option for girls with a tight prom budget: free gowns from Cinderella's Closet.

Zion United Church of Christ, at 201 N. Potomac St. in Hagerstown, has nearly 100 used gowns available at its Cinderella Shop. The gowns are free. The shop is open for one day only, Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Enter the church from the alley at the rear of the building.

For more information, call Carol Sager at 301-766-8768.

Sager is also still collecting formal gowns to add to Cinderella's Closet.

Prom dates

The following are scheduled prom dates for Washington County Public Schools.

April 28

· Boonsboro High School - Hagerstown Elks Club

· Hancock High School - Clarion Hotel in Hagerstown

May 5

· Clear Spring High School - Whitetail Mountain Resort

· North Hagerstown High School - the school

· Williamsport High School - Hagerstown Elks Club

May 19

· South Hagerstown High School - Hagers-town Elks Club

May 26

· Washington County Technical High School - Hagerstown Elks Club

June 2

· Smithsburg High School - Hagerstown Elks Club

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