Prom Time (circa 1989)

Prom 1989

It's prom time, isn't it? I am starting to see prom stories in the news, and folks on the various sewing lists I'm on are starting to post their war stories of sewing dresses for their daughters … so I thought I'd dig up the photo of the great dress my mom made for me.

My mom has actually made me two prom dresses; the first was for the freshman prom. Not my freshman prom—a guy named David Goldman's freshman prom. I was just a very flattered eighth grader. (So thanks again, David, wherever you are!) Luckily no pictures of that dress survive; the dress was fine—but let's just say eighth grade wasn't an especially high point for me (aside from being asked to that prom).

The other dress my mom made was for my Senior Prom. See that picture up above? That's me, on the right. On the left (and isn't he dapper!) is Dave Hampton, who is now an architect right here in Chicago (and he's single, so area ladies, if you want an intro, drop me an email). We went As Friends, as my boyfriend at the time was a College Man and couldn't be bothered about a rinky-dink high-school prom. (That is, until the last minute, when he crashed our pre-prom dinner. Which was Chinese takeout in my folks' dining room, but still.)

I don't know how my mom did it, but she took my vague instructions about a square-necked full-skirted dress and made it real. (Well, she wouldn't cut the neckline any lower, or take the waist in any tighter, but moms have to hold the line where they can … and anyway, constructing something like this was way way beyond my capabilities at the time. )

Dave and I had a great time. After the prom our whole group had a sedate and lovely moonlight picnic in Reynolda Gardens, which I think was (and is) against their posted rules, but the local police were much more interested our harder-partying classmates, so we got away with it.

The dress was dark green polished cotton, and I still have it — it's in a box somewhere upstairs with a few other things I can't imagine ever wearing again but couldn't possibly get rid of. I wish I still had those shoes; they were even cuter in person. (Of course, with Dave, I probably could have worn four-inch heels; he's a bit on the tall side … )

I *really* want to hear about y'all's prom dresses — that's what the comments are for …

0 thoughts on “Prom Time (circa 1989)

  1. Like Becky, I made my dress (1974) from Quiana. Marvellous and soft, totally synthetic. It was dusty rose (dreadful colour) but if I found that pattern again I would pick it up. It had a high neck, bodice with cut-in shoulders (sleeveless) and a raised waist. The bodice was self-lined and instead of sewing the right and left sides together at the CF each was sewn to its self-lining so it was just a long opening. It sounds racier than it was… The year before, my dress (which I made of course) was a floor length flowered affair, fully lined. It was a wrap dress and was also sleeveless but had a cape-like collar that covered my shoulders and upper arms. I think I had to safety-pin that one, for modesty’s sake. Wish I had pictures so you could see for yourselves that I was not just a teenaged hussy…

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  2. I went to three proms, but I only have pictures of two of them on my computer. This was my junior prom dress. Nothing really special; it was actually my last choice because I’d loaned out all my “good” dresses to friends who couldn’t get a nice dress for whatever reason. (I had a Jessica McClintock and another really beautiful rust colored dress with gold and green vines on the bodice that got loaned out to friends.)This was my senior prom dress. I loved this dress so much (and it looked so good on my fat self) that I wore it for my graduation pictures. My other prom dress was a Jessica McClintock flouffy thing with ice blue on the bottom and a fantastic silver/ice blue brocade corset-style bodice. I don’t know where that dress is now, but I miss it so.

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  3. Here is a photo of my senior prom from 1986 http://www.flickr.com/photos/tanasattic/467491574/And yes I really have no excuse for that blue eyeshadow or that loud blue dress that you could see from several blocks away. I loved it anyway. I still have it in storage somewhere but sadly those white shoes disappeared on the move to Anchorage along with several other vintage pairs. Dave sounds really nice and he sure said some wonderful things about you. Too bad I live so far away, I would ask for an intro.🙂 Thanks Erin for all the great memories.

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  4. I wore my mother’s prom dress from circa 1960 (this was in 1986). Seafoam green with a full organdy skirt, strapless bodice overlaid with cream cotton lace. Delicious–but over my date’s head, perhaps.I wore her wedding dress too for my wedding. She had very good taste!

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  5. My school had three formal dances a year (including senior prom). Through my three years of high school (my high school ran grades 10-12), I went to 6 formal dances, and I’m sure I have pictures of all of my dresses, but I’l just show you my senior prom picture: it’s here. My mom made the dress, and I know she tried, but she always had better intentions than she had time. Also, I was lousy about standing for a fitting, so the dress was too short, and too baggy around my waist. The fringe was meant to be thicker, the straps thinner. Of course, I discovered all of this on the day of prom, and I wish I could say that I pretended not to notice any of the flaws, and my mom and I shared a moment, but my mom and I had a contentious relationship, I was 17, and I seem to recall stomping upstairs to my bedroom. I did come around later though, after I was done primping and adding my “accessories” (a dance was not a dance without elbow length gloves), I thanked my mom for my great dress and left happily for the dance. And truly, when else in my life was I ever going to get away with wearing a dress THAT SHORT?As for the date, I traded mine to a friend who didn’t have one and went with the guy who had asked me second (and please don’t think I was in any way popular with the fellas, total fluke). This gem gave me a quarter with a hole in it for a corsage, wanted to leave the prom the minute we arrived, and sat all night on the front porch of the country club, popping pills and moaning about how miserable he was. Then he got mad at me because I didn’t sleep with him! Never mind that we weren’t dating, and I’d never had a serious boyfriend all through high school (I’m trying to be decorous here). I wouldn’t trade it though. Good times. Oh, and my senior prom was in 1993.

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  6. Even though I was a cool, hardcore punk rock grrl in my senior year and for a few after that…. I was stil a sucker for a gorgeous princess dress. I ended up with a lovely poufy pinky/lavender dress with off the shoulder poofy sleeves — I think a Jessica McClintock creation my Dad bought for me in Pittsburgh. In a matter of 2 months, I broke up with my steady boyfriend (and date) and got a new older (hotter) badder one. The new one was pulled over and promptly arrested d/t outstanding warrants, used his tux money for bail so I did not go to the prom. Dad insisted I send the dress back to him and he returned it. That was 1983. However, last night I “crashed” a coworker’s daughter’s wedding reception dressed in a pale blue full-skirted with midriff band dress on sale from Target (last Spring), white eyelet wedge shoes and a little eyelet blouse/jacket with puff sleeves (dress was sleeveless). I only knew the mother of the bride, made lots of friends and danced a lot.

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  7. Senior prom 2001. Spaghetti-strap sort-of-corsety lace-back bodice — marginally visible in this tiny little picture. The under-fabric was this really rowdy red/pink/orange/gold/green paisley stuff, which was toned down by a layer of white mesh with irregular dots over the top. The skirt was rather the opposite of what I always thought I’d want by having the poofiness on the outside, rather than the inside — white satin underskirt with orange and pink tulle over it and a finer layer of white tulle over that. Actually, the whole dress-finding experience was a little topsy-turvy. I started out dead set on finding something slinky and sophisticated, then I chucked it all out the window when I found that one (“you look like a fire-faery”, Mom said) and I’m glad I did. I put fluorescent flower scrunchies around my bun, carried my inexcusably-red lipstick in a folded up white bandana, and felt like a million bucks (datelessness notwithstanding!). I’ve never seen anything like it before or since, and (now that I can sew) my wedding gown is going to be a lot like it (that is, if I don’t go with the t-shirt dress)! Some of these dresses are just stunning, and I must admit that I’m a little jealous of folks who wore their mothers’ dresses — my mum was skinny as a rail, and when I bought the abovementioned prom dress, I was a size 11 and the smallest I’ve ever been (or ever will be). I did wear one of her casual dresses from college once — really neat prairie-style with a black velvet bodice that laced up the front and had bronze flowers embroidered on it, IIRC … just after my eleventh birthday.

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  8. My dress was a vintage 1950s one. Best dress at prom. I don’t have any pictures online at this time but it was black lace, long sleves with a sweetheart strapless bodice and bow at the waist and about knee length or so. It was a steal at $50, especially when everyone else payed top dollar. (what happens when your school is in the middle of mcmansion land) Also I was the only girl in flats. (my prom was last year)If I ever have to go to the oscars or something I’ll wear it.

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  9. Two proms for me, 1966 and 1967. Both with the same guy who ended up being my first husband. The marriage didn’t last very long(thankfully) but the dresses survived and I still have them. Many years later, my daughter played dress up in them. My mom made both of my prom dresses (and my first marriage dress). My first prom dress was inspired by a dress I had worn that spring in a fashion show. We didn’t come up with exactly the same thing, but close. Ice blue, full skirted with a clear skirt overlay. Ruffles along the bodice.My senior year I was a Homecoming attendant and wore a long red satin empire A-line dress. And long white gloves. And red satin high heels. I thought it was damn elegant! For my senior Prom, Mom refashioned the dress by adding red chiffon as an overlay and added a big flowery thingee in the back with a train of sorts. It was beautiful and it’s always been my favorite fancy dress. I don’t remember too much about the dances themselves. Boyfriend/ex went to a different school and wasn’t too interested in the whole thing so am pretty sure we ditched early. Bah. I did love dressing up, tho. And I still love the smell of satin! And I could never ever wear heels that high again even if I tried!

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  10. I made my prom dress, and it was definitely the hardest thing I had attempted to that point. Drop waist, sweetheart neckline, knee-length full gathered skirt, puffy sleeves. This was in 1992, and my whole life I had dreamed of wearing a full-length gown to prom, but for some reason that one year long dresses were OUT. There was only one girl there in a full-length dress and she looked really out of place so I didn’t regret not going long. It was out of a dark green satiny poly that shimmered black in some lights. I remember I caught some of the fabric while putting in the zipper and had to rip it out and put the zipper back in. There was a distinct line of damage where I had caught the fabric but there was nothing to do about it. It didn’t show too much and I wore my hair down to cover it. That is the first and only time I’ve had my hair professionally styled for an event; it was very luxurious. I went with a bunch of girlfriends (my first date was still many months in the future) and we had a great time.Tell Dave to look me up if he’s ever in DC. `-)

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  11. 1984. Black taffeta strapless number with a simple pencil skirt and really high, black pointy patent stilettos. The dress was on clearance at Jay Jacobs for a couple of dollars, but was a size 16, while I was a size 4 (sigh). I altered the dress and added …. wait for it … a GIANT white taffeta bow at the waist. And I mean GIANT. Alexis Carrington was my bitch. I had a few pennies left over to buy a black dye and dyed my cheerleading gloves black and cut off the fingers. Gawd, I thought I was cool. I didn’t even have a real date, but was set up to go with an exchange student from another school. I think his name was Jaime, and he was very patient with my ego.

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  12. My mom made my prom dress because by the time the geeky guy I’d met at the science fair asked me to go, I’d already started sewing my friend Kathy’s prom dress for her and didn’t have time to make my own! It was 1986, the era of puffy sleeves and puffy hair. Kathy’s dress was very Cinderella, with a silver metallic bodice and light blue satin puffy sleeves and poofy skirt. My dress was also appropriately puffy, but in a shiny royal blue fabric that was so crisp it was almost like plastic. Ah, those were the days… Or, you know, not. But still, those were some cool dresses!

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  13. I’ve already posted my dress, but people keep talking about dates/boys/matching/etc. My junior prom date (in 2001) was…for lack of a better word, a card. See here. We left the red eye in that picture because it just suits Walker so well. We were…well, quite a couple. We were the ones who led the Time Warp when it came up.

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  14. Oh you Americans have a great tradition with yer proms. Even now I like to see those pictures on the web, but when I graduated I was obsessed with it. My friends and I wanted an american-prom-style dance. I was the only one that could sew so I made myself ballgown out of a corset-type fashion top and a wide skirt- the sleeved thing I wore underneath it was hideous, and without it it would have worked- but it gave me a evil stepmother look- too goth for my liking now, but I’d sewn it last minute and I insisted I should wear it! We don’t have the wide choice of promdresses in the shops here in the Netherlands- but it would’ve been better for me to buy one!

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  15. My favorite prom dress was Senior Prom ’98… I only altered it, but it was the best dress ever to me for the following reasons: a) $5 at a thrift store, b) it was vintage and oh how I love vintage!, c) Pink dotted swiss, and d) the skirt was poofy enough that my date couldn’t find the stickshift after I was loaded into the car! My alteration? I removed the sleeves and made it sleeveless. Also, you have to love the 50s bullet bust (that was the dress, not the foundation undergarments). And here’s the full extent of the puffy skirt. If only I realized how tiny I was then…. *sigh*

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  16. I’m not sure if I belong- I can’t sew a button on a shirt- but I greatly admire anyone who can sew well.Sophomore prom- (1989) my sisters lived in NYC and sent me (in Minnesota) an amazing Tadashi royal blue taffeta mini-dress with pleated bodice and huge ruffle sleeves and waistline to match my huge hair. A not-so-close friend borrowed it the following year- she left for college and never returned that dress. I am a “dress girl” and I LOVED that dress. Shannon Buelle- if you read this- look up my parents in Lakeville!! You know what I’m talking about.Sr year (1991) I found a $600 dress for $90– absolutely stellar. I can’t even describe the color- light magenta? All Tulle- layer after layer, stapless with “points” at the bust line, fitted down to the hips and then major mini pouf with ragged hem. Sort of like an “interpretation” of a 50’s tulle princess dress…I don’t recall the brand- it’s at mom and dad’s. Damn that was a great dress. I still have THAT one.

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  17. I really like that dress. Not bad for 1989!! I think I had that haircut at one time also! My prom dress was also black, strapless, tea length, pretty simple. It had a cool lace underpiece ( I don’t know what you call it) that peaked out and hung longer at the bottom with a black bolero jacket.

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  18. My friend recently gifted me with this fabulous book: Prom Night: The Best Night of Your Life. It’s got about 100 photos of prom couples from the 1940s to the present, and it is a total trip.My own prom dress in 1977 was a simple beige halter with a white collar and a matching bolero with white piping, the better to show of my super-fashionable puka shell necklace. Also, I was trying not to clash with my boyfriend’s dinner jacket, which was garnet red crushed velvet. When we got to the Hilton where the dance was held, he matched the drapes in the lobby.

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  19. My prom dress from 1990 was amazing. It was a princess-point waisted strapless number in cream polka dotted lace with sparkles (yes sparkles glued in between the polka dots). The hem involved a kerchief cut cream satin underlay and then the lace over top was tied in four notted bundles at the cardinal points. It was fairy princess late-eighties glory. I still have it somewhere and when I try it on I always marvel that I had such big boobs at 17.

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  20. My prom was last year and my dress was from the 1950s. I got it at Ahab Bowen which for my money is the best vintage store in Dallas. Beautiful condition and fit like it was made for me. And it was only $50! It was a black, tea length lace dress with long sleves and a sweetheart strappless bodice beneath the lace. I wore black balet flats and I may have been the only girl at prom with flats. My boyfriend and I looked like we stepped out of a period movie. I looked too good to dance to the rap music or sir mix alot though. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to show off.

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  21. My prom dress in 1991 was the same Nicole Miller pattern as Andrea’s. I also used the knee length view A.http://cgi.ebay.com/Butterick-pattern-5944-DRESS-Misses-MP-sizes-6-8-10_W0QQitemZ8277681523QQihZ020QQcategoryZ11801QQcmdZViewItemMy mother and I made it together out of fuchsia pink “Debutante Satin” (it was very iridescent stiff satin) with a pink crinoline edged in fuchsia grosgrain ribbon. I remember many people commenting that I was the most sophisticated looking girl there.I don’t know where any pictures are.

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