Why You Should Totally Wear A Vintage Dress to Your Prom
Here’s a silly little regret: I wish I wore a fabulous vintage dress to my prom. Which, incidentally, was over 20 years ago.
The thing is, I was always wearing “weird” clothes. I got my first cardboard box filled with breathtaking hand-me-downs at the age of 12. It came from some part of my family back in the US. I was an Israeli teen. And I couldn’t believe it.
The first box arrived just in time for my Bat Mitzvah, to which I had nothing to wear. And sure enough, it had two sets of matching skirt-shorts and a top, in the best colors the 80s could offer. One set had a pattern of crosswalk stripes in teal, pink and purple. The other set had puffy sleeves and tiny polka dots in magenta, purple and pink. That was it. Me and my BFF — we were planning a joint Bat Mitzvah party — suddenly had what to wear and we knew we’d be the envy of every girl in our class, because these garments were so obviously not from around here. And yet, they captured the zeitgeist so accurately.
The second box of American hand-me-downs came two years later, when I was fourteen. It included a lovely white summer dress, a House In The Prairie boho dress and a pair of jeans. Light blue thin jeans that made me look and feel like something out of Vogue. I remember wearing them to Scouts and one of the girls was checking them out. Then she whistled appreciatively. “Calvin Klein,” she said. I has no idea what that meant, but it left quite an impression on all the other girls.
So when I was sent, later that summer, to visit my step grandparents — Fay and Len — in London, I put up no resistance when Fay suggested we should go to the Shull’s Charity Sale. “It will be mostly used clothings dear,” she said “but you might find something you like and it’s for a good cause.”
Right there and then, she introduced me to the pleasures of thrifting. A world where I didn’t have to wait for boxes of exotic hand-me-downs to land on my doorstep. A world I could enter any time for a journey of serendipity. Never looking for anything specific. Just waiting to be swept off my feet by an unexpected find, pay very little for it, donate to a good cause and end up looking completely unique, unlike anyone else, expressing my personality in a way words failed to do.
I embraced it. So when my mom came to pick me up from the airport once I’ve returned from LOndon, she found me wearing an 80s magenta shift dress with a polo collar and three huge white plastic buttons and matching pointy toed flats. All thrifted.
So how did I — already the queen of vintage at 14 — who later discovered the further pleasures of upcycling garments, end up wearing the most banal and utterly new dress to my so-called-prom?
Here’s what I think happened. We had just moved to a new town and new school three years earlier and I was still trying to fit in. I moved from Tel Aviv — the center of everything worth while — to Rishon Letzion, which was 20 minutes and a world away. And I just wanted to be less conspicuous. I wanted to take it down a notch. And so, I wore a childish black velvet princess dress. And I felt OK. I didn’t stand out that’s for sure. But looking back, I’m harboring a little regret that I didn’t make an unforgettable appearance with a vintage dress that was full of style and like no other.
Because most of us don’t get that many “prom” nights. Most of us don’t get to walk red carpets or attend gala nights. So we really don’t have an excuse to wear something that’s over the top.
So when you think of that way, and coupled with the ridiculous prices of nice prom dresses, do you now see how you should absolutely wear vintage to your prom?
And if, like me, your prom was a while ago, I’d love to hear what you wore, and were you happy with your choice :)