The Lowdown: The price of prom

Parents pay an average of £220 on their daughter’s prom, according to Go Compare.

For mine, I spent £80.

The dress was on sale. I still felt like a princess – just a sensible princess. One who was brought up knowing how to handle her cash.

Despite this, I was too embarrassed to tell my friends that, instead of going to a fancy boutique and a dress fitting, I had spent the bare minimum and got my Nana to help me get ready.

If I’m being honest though, I cheated. My Nana – Anne Friel – is the mastermind behind Anne’s Wedding Day Dressing Service, a dress fitting business in Adrossan. She’s seen her fair share of tantrum and tears, from bridesmaids to prom-goers over the years.

Fuss

“One girl booked me to dress her on prom night and the dress was too tight for her. She made such a fuss about it… a few months down the line she produced a bouncing baby boy!” she recalls.

“Girls are under a lot of pressure these days, and they pay a lot of money for a dress just for one night, the same way a bride does.”

It’s been three years since my Nana helped with my prom. Now, I wonder: how much more will I be expected to pay on my graduation ball gown?

I don’t know about you, but I’d actually like to have some savings to graduate with.

We can thank America for this tradition. While proms only became popular in the UK during the early 2000s, they’ve actually been going on for quite some time across the pond.

In the mid-1800s, proms were for college graduates, before working their way down to high school students come the 20th century.

“Most American girls do see it as one of the biggest highlights of their lives in high school.” says Hannah, 19, from Pennsylvania. She describes how one of her friends spent almost $500 on her prom, while she spent $40 in comparison. “I wasn’t focused on looking the most extravagant or the best. I was more focused on graduating!”

Appearance

According to John T. Chirban of Psychology Today, it’s all down to the parents. “If fashion is a vital value for parents, how do you imagine their child will want to dress? Because our physical appearance is often the first signal others pick up from us, we need to help our kids learn how to properly convey whatever message they choose.”

Chirban says that physical appearance is the first thing that people will notice about us; but is that limited to the way we dress? If we’re talking about all things physical, then what about body language? Showing kindness through facial expressions, or actions? This could be anything from waving hello to your neighbour or reaching out for a hand shake.

We should be focusing on the fact that the world will remember us by more than our looks.

So, if you’re like I was in high school, know you’re not alone. Know that it’s OK to choose to save your money, and still feel beautiful.

On the other hand, if you did go all-out with the dress, that’s OK too! The important thing is that you make that decision because you want to, not because society is telling you to.

And, if you’re still conflicted, just picture yourself a few years down the line, like me. Will a price tag still mean as much to you?

Don’t let labels define your prom experience. Soon, the dress turns into a memory. How do you want to remember your prom?

We asked Source readers about their prom dress experiences…

“All the chat in the run up to prom was about how much everyone was spending on having hair, make-up and a tan done, and some people spent hundreds on their dresses, as well as hiring limos.” – Victoria

“There was some pressure on us to spend a lot on our dresses but then we only had one ball during our time at school so it seemed worth it in the end… We had a Facebook page where all the girls in our year posted pictures of their dresses before the ball so no two girls had the same dresses.” – Eleanor

“I remember I spent about £100 on mine which at the time I didn’t mind paying, but looking back it feels like such a waste because I spilled soup on it at the dance so it’s stained and I’ll probably never wear it again.” – Saskia

“I found a prom dress I loved at a decent price, and I didn’t feel the need to compete with others to spend the most money.” – Amanda

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