Hair & Fashion Humor Memoir

I Remember Prom

That’s my niece up there. Could she be any more gorgeous?
Oh, and her boyfriend looks fab in his tux, too.

My niece went to Senior Prom with her boyfriend a few weeks ago.

As I stood nearby, snapping photos, I was transported back in time.

To the mid-1980s. To my own school formals.

TB and me. Junior Prom, 1984.

I went to junior prom with TB, a boy I  spent most of middle school trying to get to fall in love with notice me. Lord knows, we spent many afternoons in detention together as a result of misbehaving in French class. Before he moved to Philadelphia, I realized we were always going to be “just friends,” which was good enough for me. I sort of figured I’d never see him again, but he magically materialized to take me to prom.

First, let’s just establish TB looked awesome in his tux.


Okay, now let’s talk about my dress. Featured in Seventeen Magazine, my dress was a gauzy, white Gunne Sax for Jessica McClintock that covered me from chin to ankle; it had three layers of crinoline and 10,000 buttons up the back. I was hermetically sealed inside my dress. All I knew was that I felt like Madonna in that dress. Seriously, from the neck down, I looked like Madonna.

Shut up, I did.

Sadly, we must address things from the neck up. A few months prior, I’d butchered my long mane and had not yet figured out quite what to do with what was, tragically, a long brush-cut. Or a lady-mullet. In an effort to try to make people not notice my heinous hair, I stuck an over-sized silver safety-pin through the extra hole in my left ear lobe. Because I was that cool.

JMo and me. Senior Ball, 1985.

For senior ball, I was slightly better prepared. First, let us establish that JMo looked awesome in his tux.


Now, about my dress.  As it turned out, my poofy dress from the year before was really uncomfortable. The crinkly crinolines had filled the entire backseat; it had been hard to walk, and did I mention that I was decidedly not hot?

Senior year, I decided to tone down my attire and wear a simple yellow dress. Alas, there was no teenaged version of “Say Yes To The Dress” because somehow I ended up looking like I had been dipped first in a vat of French’s mustard and then into a second vat of Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Seriously, I had no business wearing pastel yellow. I know you can’t tell from the pictures, but I looked jaundiced. Luckily, most people were blinded by my like totally radical Sun-In highlights and my tan, both of which I had been cultivating after school for weeks while  ignoring my upcoming Trigonometry final.

I didn’t do a lot of primping for either prom.

I mean, I showered.

I was clean.

I bought a dress and put it on.

(So there was a little extra room up top. What’s your point?)

All I’m saying is thank goodness there was no Twitter back in the 1980s, because I would have been all over that and it would have worked me into a frenzy! No, I was blissfully oblivious, so I didn’t stress out about prom in advance at all.

Time spent preparing my hair for junior prom: zero minutes.

For senior ball, I actually had hair, so I did use a little mousse which, thankfully, had been invented earlier that year.

Truthfully, I do remember a wee bit of mental anguish at both dances. Even though I wasn’t dating either guy, I still wanted the romance of the evening. I still wanted my dates to ask me to slow dance.

I mean I was scared, but I still wanted to be asked.

Ask me. No don’t ask me.

Please ask me. Wait, I don’t know what I’m doing.

At senior ball, I sang along with the lead singer as he belted out a new Foreigner tune: “I wanna know what love is. I want you to show me.”

Because, really, I had no idea.

But I so wanted to know.

I imagine some things will never change about formal dances: the grown up feeling of getting dressed up and “going out on the town” without one’s parents; the freaky-deaky feeling a girl gets in her stomach as she sees her prom date pull into the driveway; those awkward posed moments where parents hover, taking zillions of photographs from every possible angle; the worry that a zit could erupt at any moment.

Even though the dresses are better, I still think of prom as an awkward place, a threshold between adolescence and adulthood where no one really knows what to do.

So people just hold onto each other and spin in circles for a little while.

And so we did.

And it was good.

Right up until I learned I failed the Trig final.

What did you wear to prom? Did you think you were hot? Were you? Really?

tweet me @rasjacobson

118 thoughts on “I Remember Prom

  1. Oddly, I was a bit of a rebel about prom. I decided I was too cool to go. I had a 22 year old on stand by to be my date if I wanted to go. He looked like a GQ model…no joke. In the end, I didn’t really want to deal with the primping, the dressing up, the getting the limo, etc that would have gone along with it. I didn’t begrudge my friends who went. In fact, I went over to one friend’s house and did her make up (it was not a skill her mother possessed).

    In fact, the only dance I went to in high school (though I did go to a banquet for the private school I went to my first 2 years of high school) was homecoming…and not even mine. I went with a guy friend from another school. (And yeah, I thought I looked hot.) 😉

    1. I think one school dance is enough. I had a great time at both, but I was a wee bit naughty at the second dance. After my date dropped me off (like a gentleman) my boyfriend — with whom I had reconciled — came to pick me up and we stayed up until pretty late in the morning. IYKWIM.

      Whaaaaat? I mean we watched the sun come up. Or something.

      And I’m not surprised you were a rebel. Duh!

        1. These days, people seem to travel in ENORMOUS herds. You should see the photos of my niece with ALL the people she went to prom with. She just stopped at her house for a few private moments before the insanity began! But you’re right; when we went, there was definitely an expectation to…

          …um, watch the sun come up. 😉

  2. It’s amazing what a good tan will do for a person! That’s the same girl only a year apart? Lol. I didn’t go to my prom, but I don’t remember why. I think I’d broken up with my girlfriend because she had a skin tag on her back or something important like that. I’d gone to her prom though and I think one prom is plenty.

    1. I think having hair helped more than the tan. But, yes, it’s true: pasty-white girls shouldn’t wear white. Thank goodness we didn’t know about skin cancer back then. I slathered myself in baby oil to get deep dark delicious and, apparently, orange. I’m glad you had the good sense not to go to prom with a girl with a skin tag. She sounds kind of superficial. 😉

      1. Lol, you just took me back to high school when after a morning soccer practice spent without a shirt on in the summer heat, I’d come home and rest on my deck lathered in baby oil while listening to Scorpion on cassette tape! Skin cancer? Rock on sister!

  3. Forget the dress, and why from the neck down only. You look GOO-OOD in your Sr Prom photo. I was very hot in my tux, but then I’ve always been hot (natured).

    I used to work hard on a tan with the baby oil and such. Now I’m tan all over – from all the brown spots growing together. Arrrgh!

    1. David, when you went to prom, I’m guessing women wore more demur dresses. I picture things were more classy, less slutty than they are now. Less boom-chakka-lakka. IYKWIM.

      Do you remember this stuff? I’m sure your wife would LOVE to slather Porcelana on you.

  4. Junior prom: white tux, gray shirt, with red bow tie. Senior prom: traditional black tux… ahhh much better. Same girl both years. Interestingly I just stumbled over some old prom pics, thus how I actually remembered what I was wearing. Let’s just say, we won’t be sharing those photos!

    1. You went into my SPAM folder because you included the link, which always looks suspicious to Askimet. Definitely time to rerun that one! Good stuff. I can’t believe that you didn’t go to your last prom.

      I have to admit, I have my suspicions that mommy might have banished her young son out of convenience. Okay, maybe she thought you were a bad influence. Or maybe she didn’t like him dating. Or maybe she didn’t want to let her baby go. I don’t care how mean you are, you don’t punish your kid by not letting him go to prom unless the kid is somehow in on it. DId you two reconcile after that? Because there’s more to THAT story. I’m just sayin’. If you two are still in touch, you’ve totally got to pick that scab.

      1. Oh God no, we’re not in touch. His Mother loved me, I don’t think it was that. I think it was one of two things, She was a very large angry woman with no common sense (at times) and she was always grounding the kids for something. I could see her grounding him and having absolutely no thought to how it would affect me. Or maybe he or they didn’t have the money and made up the story. However, I do remember seeing the cracked window at the house so. It’s no big deal, I went to a bunch of others and most seniors didn’t think the prom was a big deal.

  5. Ahh, Sun In. I remember it well.

    Both of my proms were disasters. I don’t really want to talk about it, thanks. Sniff sniff. Still raw after all these years, apparently.

    Nah, just kidding. But they are long boring stories, so let’s skip it.

    And I think you look hawt in your Senior pic. The junior one, granted, is a bit too Madonna for my taste, but it was ’84. Whacha gonna do? 😉

    1. Can you even believe I thought that Gunne Sax mess was like Oh. My. Gawd. Seriously, I loved all those ruffles. I remember I had a zillion black rubber bracelets on my wrists, but my mother begged me to take them off, so I did. (I was THAT much of a rebel.) I personally like how I’m nervously grasping my hands together in BOTH pictures. What a dork. Can you imagine? Buying all those ruffles? Ruffles are for potato chips. 😉

      1. Totally forgot to mention this the first time . . .

        I love how in that first pic you are totally cracking up. Like you already realize how ridiculous the entire thing is.

        Also, I feel bad for your niece. Yes, she’s gorgeous. Yes, her date is fine. Yes, that dress is adorable. But 25 years from now, what on earth will she cringe and make fun of? Huh, huh? See. Poor, poor girl. 😉

        1. Exactly! Yes yes yes! She looks so perfect! And I imagine they will delete all the crappy shots. I had to wait two weeks for my photos to come back to realize I looked like crap in every single one! You do have to have a sense of humor about these things. I hope teens today don’t take this stuff so seriously, but I think a lot of them do. I saw (on Twitter) that some girls were getting their dresses fitted for the second time. Whaaaaat? I didn’t even do that for my wedding! But seriously! Alterations? For prom? Wow. That’s a lot of work.

  6. What I remember most about my Senior Prom is that another girl was wearing the same dress! It was a navy taffeta which I loved- until then. I did not know her at all (we had a graduating class of 365, so..). We just sort of stared at each other for a moment and then managed to stay on different parts of the dance floor for the rest of the evening. My date was my very steady boy friend who said, “Who cares?” He was probably right, but at the time, I was mortified.

    1. It’s funny the things that bug us when we are young. I’ve shown up to different events wearing the same dress as other people and I go up to them and make sure we get photographed together. Here in Rochester, where the shopping is kind of stinky, someone is bound to be wearing the same dress. You have to giggle at those things. Guys never care about the things we do. I’m sure he only had eyes for you.

  7. Ooof! After that little lot, I’m so relieved that Proms didn’t exist in England when I was at school. And now they do. Not in time for my 30-something children, but in time for my 20-something daughter. For whom it was stress, expense (Hang on..Maybe the expense was ours), and not something to look back on with much nostalgia I think. Maybe not one of the US’s more successful exports?

    1. The prom industry has definitely become…an industry since I went to prom. That’s why I was saying I didn’t worry or fuss back in the 1980s, but now if you search #PROM on Twitter, holy cow! So many girls, making such a fuss. They’re getting their nails done and their hair done. They’re getting spray tans and their brows waxed. I think I put some Nivea on my legs to make sure I didn’t have dry skin. But you’re right; things have gotten bigger-er. Not the best import, for sure.

      And yet, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun.

      Before, during and after. 😉

  8. LOL, Renee, I love this!

    I wasn’t exactly a social butterfly in my high school years (or, like, EVER), but a classmate friend of mine and I decided when we were juniors that we’d go as pals, just to see what all the fuss was about.

    It was fun, and funny. The dress I wore was comfortable enough (the shoes were NOT), but looking back, I kinda look like a Swiss farm girl. Think Heidi, at the prom. And I don’t mean Heidi Klum, either. No makeup; I had no clue how to apply the stuff.

    Kids didn’t do much of the massive group prom thing back then, with a ton of couples all posing together. It was just the guy coming to the house, pictures, being taken, and off we went. I remember my date borrowed his older brother’s beat-up old car, and the passenger side door wouldn’t stay open, LOL, so he had to keep holding it while my parents were trying to take pics of him helping me into the car, and the door would keep smacking me, etc. We were laughing our butts off.

    Ah, memories!

  9. I seriously cannot remember what I wore to my Senior prom, or what my date wore. Is that horrible? But…what I definitely remember is how much dancing we/I did to KC & The Sunshine Band, Devo, Gary Numan, Supertramp, and Men At Work! Growing up in south Dallas — culturally diverse(?) — the DANCING was the real show. Great memories!

    And great post Renee! It’s a very good thing you didn’t attend my high school! You would’ve had to turn me and many other boys down for months prior! 😉

    1. Professor: I LOVE KC & The Sunshine Band, and I still have them on my iPod. And I still dance around to them, you know, when I’m dancing around in my kitchen the way I sometimes do. *ahem* I have a feeling we would have KILLED on the dance floor. Neither of my dates were particular big dancers. That was a little rough, so I think I danced most of the night with my BBF’s (best best friends & maybe their dates — or maybe not their dates). I can’t remember. But I do remember having a blast.

      Incidentally, the band that played at our senior prom recently played at a party I attended. I was all:

      “Hey, were you Atlas Linen Company?”

      And they were like: “We’re just Atlas now.”

      And I was all: “You played at my prom!”

      And then we all wanted to quietly die together.

      1. Woman! I’m gonna haveta put a “gag order” on you and your Jedi-Knight-Projecting-Images-Into-My-La-La-Brain tricks! *ahem* back on you! 😉

        I so understand the accidental-fan-praise “poop-pah” (faux pa) I call ’em. Me and my big mouth and SAY-IT brain put me in many poop-pah moments!

        1. Yeah. That moment was awkward. I kinda wondered if there was some weird band drama. Atlas Linen Company played at both my proms: 1984 and 1985, and then they showed up at a bar mitzvah a few months ago. It was definitely a blast from the past!

          Oooh — look like they changed to Atlas about 15 years ago. Check them out!

          1. Atlas sounds a lot like Earth, Wind, & Fire, another favorite of mine! Do you remember this one/band? College graduation concert our class went to — some SERIOUS sweaty dancing fun:

  10. Let’s first establish that Go Jules Go is going to go bonkers for this post. I for one LOVED it!!! You are so funny. Love the SHARP contrast between the two years.

    I had to stop and ask myself if I would ever put my prom photo up. I was probably 30 pounds heavier than I am now . . . not sure I’d want to!!! But maybe I should. Maybe next spring. 😉

    1. Nina: I’d love to see you prom photos, and — honestly — I think it’s awesome when people look better after prom. One of the things I wanted to say here (but didn’t) was that back in the 1980s, we were content to be perfectly imperfect. Before digital technology, no one could rush the photographer to see how we looked. There were no re-takes. We assumed we looked fine. It’s funny to look at these pictures now because we are just sooooo dorky! These days, everyone is so perfect! They are tweeting and Instagramming all night long. I wonder if they will remember enjoying their prom experience or remember documenting it.

      Meanwhile, maybe we can consider getting a bunch of bloggers together next year in May to have a prom. Believe me,I have OTHER prom stories to share, no doubt. 😉

    2. ha ha Someone’s gonna have to write me a note to get out of this Trig final – I’ve gone too bonkers to concentrate! “Lady-mullet” – HA! Love that. Did you really find out you failed AT the prom? I found out I got a D in Science at my 8th grade graduation dance. Thanks, Teach.

      LOVED seeing these prom pics, Renee – and that TB came back from Philly to be your date! That sounds a tad “more than friends” to me, but alas,what do I know? I never went to prom. 😉

      1. I found out a few weeks after prom. While the memory of prom was still fresh. My dad was sooooo pissed! I had to take it again over the summer. He was all: “You are getting a Regents endorsed diploma, young lady!” I took it again and I passed. Have never used Trig ever again. Ever.

        Meanwhile TB had LOTS of friends who lived in the area, and it was LUCK that he was coming up. I don’t even know how I found out he was coming up. I guess someone told me. I don’t think we were calling each other back then; long-distance cost money back in those days! I was barely allowed to talk to my grandmother!

        Good luck with your exams, darlin’!

  11. I think you look pretty cool in both dresses, but then again what do I know… We don’t have proms in Holland. While watching movies I always wondered what it would be like. Now I know

    1. Consider yourself lucky, Pleun. Prom is expensive. Seriously. Even kids in schools that are less than affluent save up for their proms. I’ve taught students from poor inner-city schools where the girls have confessed to spending hundreds of dollars on dresses and hair and more. It’s gotten pretty crazy. I think it would be nice to go for a walk with a guy-friend and have him give me a bunch of tulips. I guess the grass is always greener, eh?

      1. Lol, your grass is incredibly green though. I wish I’d go for a walk with a guy friend and have him give me a bunch of tulips too!
        I guess I just wasted too much time on Dutch guy-friends. Just sayin’… 😉

  12. I’m with Kitt. I did not go to prom and nor did most of my friends. We actually threw water balloons at the popular kids coming out of prom. Yep – we were THOSE kids. I did go to homecoming for three years, and I do remember sophomore year a friend’s mom made my dress. I was hanging out with the theater kids and thought renaissance apparel would be the best choice. Enter me in a purple and gray plaid skirt with a lavender corset top and my friend had hot glued some silk flowers onto bobby pins and put them in my hair. Yaaaaaaaaaah……

    1. You threw water balloons at the kids coming out of prom. Okay, I would have been the girl at prom who would have jumped all over your a$$ and stabbed you with my safety pin earring. It’s a good thing we met each other in this nice safe place called cyberspace at a time in our lives when we’ve both settled down. A little. 😉

      I love the Renaissance in you.

    2. Wow, you guys were nasty, nasty, nasty!! 🙂 Have you dared to face the water balloon-ees at any of your class reunions since then? I chose to wimp out and have avoided class reunions for quite some time now…

      1. I know! I think I would have been terrified to face everyone! Jess is very charming. If anyone could make amends with the popular girls from her past, it’s her. On the other hand, Jess is young. Knowing her, she didn’t attend her 10-year reunion! Hmmmmm.

          1. Well, you can imagine, I was the Chief Communications Guru in charge of finding everyone, but my friends in Syracuse worked hard to plan the reunion which, incidentally, my prom date as a Class Officer should probably be starting to think about soon. Since WE did it for him last time. Step up, JMo. This one’s on you, dude! Thirty years in 2015. Gah! (Incidentally, 30 years since junior prom.)

    1. Hi Jim! You guys never know what’s hot. That crinoline was smokin’. Don’t you remember Madonna writhing on the floor “Like A Virgin”? I was channelling her. All. Night!

      The safety pin was more to piss off my mother.

      Mission accomplished, I must say.

  13. I’m not sure I’d ever post my prom pics – I was scary looking in high school! You look gorgeous no matter what you’re wearing. And you’re funny as hell! I loved this post and relate to all but the good times had at prom. Mine was not great, but thankfully I only went senior year – in a dress remarkably similar to yours! Was I hot? Hell, no! Unless you mean was I sweating from all the crinoline! 😉

    1. Mary! I was TRYING so hard to get this down to meet the Yeah Write 500 word maximum. I couldn’t do it.

      Meanwhile. I think it would be a lot of fun NEXT YEAR if a bunch of us do a bloggers’ prom. Where we post our heinous pictures are tell our little stories. Because I have more to say. Believe me. And of course your dress was remarkably similar to mine. Duh! We’re twinsies! 😉

  14. I wore lavender, which is by far, the absolute worst color for my skin tone. But I knew zip about such things back then. Of course, I should have gotten a clue when my mother said my dress looked “sweet.” I would have preferred sexy (not that I had a clue about that either) or even gorgeous, but “sweet.”

    I’m not gonna tell you what we danced to because then you’ll know just how old I am.

    I like your senior ball pic. You look quite adorable and sophisticated at the same time. Sorry to hear about the trig final, but I think the tan was worth it.

    1. Kassandra, you know I’d LOVE to see pictures of you in your fancy lavender frock. Are you sure it wasn’t lilac? Lilac is always a hit.

      And thanks for your condolences about the trig thing. My father was wicked pissed about that, but I think flunking made it clear to everyone that I was NOT going to be a rocket scientist.

      1. No, unfortunately it was not lilac. It was very pale lavender and I looked very, very pale in it. I burned the pictures after my son asked if that was a Halloween party I’d gone to in high school. 🙂 My date did look wicked handsome in his tux with the wide, wide lapels.

        1. Well, of course your DATE looked great! The guys always look great in their timeless tuxedos! Even when they go off-roading and dabble on powder-blue, it’s hard to screw up too badly. We, women, on the other hand? We have so many choices. So many ways to go wrong wrong wrong!

  15. My poor parents. I just hadta, hadta, hadta have this $100 dress (a lot for them 30 years ago) which my mom bought for me. It was almost like your gauzy junior high version, with filmy sleeves, and a gazillion buttons up the back, but mine had a lacy jacket on top and a cami-sorta-slip-thingy underneath. As if there wasn’t enough lace on the dress, I wobbled around on lacy sandals, too. Throw in some big hair and a bunch of spray and I looked like stiffened baby’s breath with a wig on. To top it off, the guy who asked me was just a super nice guy, but we were all wrong. I mean, he was on the honor roll, Straight-A, destined for law school, and I had a hard time getting through Chemistry 1 without frustrating my poor teacher to the point of drinking over my inability to grasp redox equations. Poor Mr. Ahlf, but that’s another story…Mike picked me up for the prom, and the whole way to the restaurant, we didn’t say a peep. Nothing. For the whole meal, we didn’t talk. Nothing. The whole way to the dance, you guessed it – nothing. The World’s Most Silent Prom Date had just been enacted. We got to prom, and my friend and her date were there, whooping it up and laughing. Sigh…some things just weren’t meant to be. At least I looked good. Lace-y, big-haired, but good…I think…

    1. Oh Deanne! That is just superb. Clearly, you were the bees’ knees. I mean, you got the whole lacy jacket thingy. That gettup was only in magazines! Having The World’s Most Silent Prom Date sounds terrifying. Time must have gone painfully s l o w l y. I’m guessing you wished you had a device that looked like a phone that you could have played Pac-Man on. At least you looked like a hottie. I’m kinda guessing you did not keep in touch with Mike. I’m still in touch with TB and JMo. EVery once in a while we have a good giggle about all of this. #TrueStory.

      1. I most certainly was the bees’ knees!! And since that was in the days before cell phones, I couldn’t get someone to give me a Rescue Ring, so I suffered through it all. 😉 No, I’m not in contact with Mike – he really was a nice guy, and ended up marrying another girl in our class. Last time I heard, he was an accountant in Iowa. Don’t know if he remembers our Silent Date – hope not!! Did I tell you we drove there his dad’s orange GMC Matador?? Woo hoo!! 🙂

        1. See but that’s the THING. I’m kinda glad there were awkward silences. I’m glad we weren’t staring into our devices. We just had to power through the discomfort and figure it out. Everyone always wants to rescue these kids, but the best thing we can do is to take away their technology and make them connect with each other. They’re practically paralyzed. Seriously. I’m glad I grew up when I did. Geeky pictures and all. Unairbrushed and flat-chested and proud. And of course Mike had an orange Matador! Duh! Do you have pictures of the car? Because THAT is excellent!

          1. Good thing my husband isn’t around right now to see me, because I’m hauling out the soapbox I keep stashed under my desk! He’d do his long-suffering eye roll, but he knows I’m Anti-Rescue, too. I agree that the lack of true connection is going to result in some totally disconnected adults pretty soon. I talked to a lady who owns a restaurant in town, and a recent teenybopper hire asked why she had to physically walk TO the table to take customers’ orders. Teenybopper wondered if she couldn’t just take orders on her iPhone in the back, then bring the pizzas out. Yikes!! And sadly, no, I don’t have a photo of the Matador, so I’ll have to refer you to Google images. I’ll stow the soapbox and get on with my day now… 🙂

          2. That restaurant story is horrifying but not surprising. I’m kind of hoping there will be backlash. Eventually. You know? I keep waiting for people to get sick of the technology thing. I may be wrong on this one.

  16. I thought I was the bees knees. My shocked purple taffeta gown had leg of mutton sleeves, was tight to my knees and then exploded into black tulle, and I wore black gloves and frosted purple lipstick. It *was* 1986, and I looked like a great example of 80s glam. That is, I looked a little tragic.

    1. Oh, that is the bees’ knees, Sandy! I can just imagine how poofy those sleeves were – almost up to your ears, right?? I think I had a dress like that once, and “tragic” is certainly a good word to describe it!

    1. Hi Maria! It was a fun time, no doubt. But I’m pretty happy to where I am now, too. Still, it makes me mad that when my body was at its best the coolest styles were all about covering up from throat to ankle! Oy. Even our socks were oversized in the 80s! I couldn’t pull off the dresses they show these days, but back then… well, I probably shouldn’t have then either, right?

  17. Prom. I never went to Prom. I’ve previously mentioned that I was a late-bloomer. (by late I mean starting to sprout oddly placed hair when I was about 18…. really late)

    I couldn’t pay a girl to go out with me on a regular date, much less something as monumental as prom. In fact I only went to once dance while at school, and I had asked a good friend to go because it was my senior year and it was the last-chance-dance. She felt sorry for me and said yes.

    I was about as far from hot as a boy could get. It looked like this girl had gone with her little brother to the dance. She was a trooper for saying yes.

    1. Zack: It’s nearly impossible for me to imagine you the way you describe yourself.


      I dated a guy who was really small until he went to go to college. He got muscles and grew about 6″ during those 4 years away and 20 years later he was voted Most Improved Since High School, which is kind of a backhanded compliment. Anyway, I’m guessing you could have your pick of the litter these days. Not that we are dogs or anything. You know what I mean. You always do. 😉

      1. This description is accurate, and in way way an exaggeration. I matured in my 20’s like thaat guy you dated.

        I do get a bit of attention now, especially since I look about 15 years younger than I actually am. Yes, I know what you mean. 😉

  18. I am super jealous! I always wanted to be “grown up” in the 80’s. High school was so not like it was in the movies, and I figured it was the 90’s that was the problem. I think you looked amazing in the senior prom picture! Straight out of Footloose. And, you got to go with Adam Sandler, apparently. 🙂 My prom was very forgettable. It was only a few minutes into it that I wondered what all the fuss was about and was glad I bought my dress at TJ Maxx. I wonder if anyone has a high school experience like Friday Night Lights?

    1. Oh yes, I was straight out of Footloose. You got it. That would have been the biggest compliment in the world. JMo was adorable and quite the gentleman. Luckily, I didn’t have my growth spurt until college or I would have towered over him. Yes, I’m guessing all your prom-woes were because you were born too late. That’s your story, and I’m sticking with it. I don’t think TJ Maxx was around when I was in high school. If it had been, I would have totally shopped there. I haven’t seen Friday Night Lights. What happened? Are you going to make me read the movie synopsis? 😉

  19. My first Prom was in 1996. Nine months later I welcomed a bouncing baby boy into this world. Ahem.

  20. When I look back at my prom pictures, I see such a painfully insecure young woman. It’s almost hard to look at, actually. But it makes me grateful for the confidence and self-acceptance I’ve gained in the ensuing 20 years.

    Also, when I think about prom, I panic thinking about my 8 year-old daughter going in 8-10 years. I think I need to start saving money to pay for it NOW. It’s all so much more expensive now than it was when I did prom. $500 for a dress. $50 for flowers. Nails, hair, tanning salons … Scary!

    1. It really has become quite the industry, hasn’t i? So yes, start saving now. Maybe your daughter will be a rebel like Jess Witkins up there ^ and choose not to attend her formal dances and throw water balloons at the kids as they came out of prom. That slays me.

    2. It really has turned into quite the industry. I started early with my daughter pointing out the great worn-once prom dresses for cheap in the thrift stores.

  21. I remember Gunne Sax! They went all the way to a size 12, which is today’s size 8. I am more of Xena 6′ than a Kate Moss 6′ so I have never been a size 8.

    I went to my senior prom with my fiance (at the time), who was a gorgeous man six years my senior. Seriously. He looked like Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia. The hardest part to break up with after my freshman year of college was his hot good looks. And no. My daughter won’t be dating any men that much older than she is while she lives in my house.

    I wore a peach chiffon dress with a foot and a half band of peach lace at the bottom. It was actually beautiful, and I did look awesome in it. I found it in a tiny dress shop in a tiny town in Texas on the back sale rack. I’d gone there looking for a supersized Gunne Sax. I kept it in a bag in my closet over the decades, and my daughter revamped it into a great steampunk costume for last year’s ComicCon. Don’t ask who wore it best. 🙂

    1. Of course you wore peach, my peach! And of course you looked gorgeous with Omar Sharif. I love that you kept the prom dress and that your daughter repurposed it.

      I realized my HUGE, poofy mistake immediately. Like at the prom. So I used my Gunne Sax the very next year in a play that I was in. I got stage make-up all over it, and — because I had a dancing part — I ripped the hem after stepping on it eleventy-two bazillion times. My partner was VERY smooth, but he never gave me the time of day! And why would he? I actually CHOSE to wear that dress at prom.

      Thank goodness everything turned out okay for both of us, yes? Thanks for stopping by, Piper! 😉

        1. Yah! I felt like somebody’s grandmother in that thing. I could hardly move. Now that you mentioned it, maybe I danced less than I remember because that dress was awkward. (Sorry TB!) That said, when it was time to look for wedding dresses, I skipped right over all the long poofy ones. So I guess that dress did have a very real purpose after all. Better to laugh at your prom pics than the ones taken at your wedding! 😉

    1. Hardly the belle of the ball, but for junior prom, I was shaped like a bell. So maybe that counts? Maybe? I had great fun at both dances. No doubt. And I’d do it all again. With better dresses, of course. 😉

  22. I wore a strapless white satin ball gown to my boyfriend’s Senior Prom. I was so afraid it was not going to stay up because I did not have much going on up there. I had quite the hairstyle–an undo with one tendril hanging down the back on the side. And he gave me a black orchid wrist corsage. It was beautiful. I was not comfortable in this dress, however. I don’t remember what I wore to my Junior Prom with him, but I remember this dress. I had borrowed it from another girl.

  23. My prom was horrible all around! The dress, the date and the day. Funny enough I just wore about mine too, but didn’t include actual pictures. I’m not as brave as you are! Thanks for the laugh!

    1. Are you SERIOUS? Tania, you have to laugh at yourself! That’s the beauty of living through these wacky rites of passage! I can’t believe you HAVE pictures but you didn’t post them! You can just black the guy’s face out! Meanwhile, I am in touch with both of my former dates, so I merely asked for their permission. The guys, of course, requested anonymity: hence their code names. I’m pretty sure they will not show up in any Google Searches. Probably. Maybe NEXT YEAR around this time, you’ll feel like writing more about prom and you’ll consider add the photo. Think about it. I’m sure you look even more gorgeous than you did back then!

  24. Aw, prom! You are beyond adorable. Beyond. I love that you shared this snippet of your past with us.

    Junior prom, I went with my then-boyfriend, who was a sweetheart. I remember it being a little nerve-wracking. We were dating, but not super seriously, and it was a little high-school awkward, you know? My dress was sweet, a cream lace floor-length number with an empire waist and ribbons for straps. I got it at the salvation army. I think I tried to tan, in a vain attempt to not match the color of my dress. Don’t remember if I was successful in that endeavor.

    My senior year, I only went to formal dances with guys who were my friends, and it was WAY better. No anxiety, no stress, just plain old fun. My dress was Punk Rock awesome, a canary lemon atrocity. Also purchased at a thrift store. Strapless and totally lace and crinole. Hideously rad. My date got me a sash made of caution tape (you know, the yellow tape with black letters), and I made him a boutonnierre of construction paper and glitter. He wore his teal sequined show choir vest. We totally pulled it off. I love that memory. Thank you for reminding me!

    1. Rivki! You sound like you had the best time! And you also sound like something right out of the movies! I’ll bet you were a great date! What a hoot! I love that you bought your dresses at thrift shops! I would TOTALLY do that now. But back then, I wanted to be Madonna. I also love that you turned prom into an excuse to do arts & crafts! Fantastic!

    1. Winter Whirl, huh. Someday I’ll write about another dance I went to. It was the equivalent of a Sadie Hawkins’ Day dance, where the girls ask the guys. Yeah. That. It was also in January. It was very cold outside, but my date and I found a good way to stay warm. How about you, Alex? Did you find a good way to stay warm?

  25. I think you looked pretty.
    My first school ball (what we called them) I went with a group of girlfriends and had a great time, I wore a full length silvery blue skirt with a boned blue shoe string top in a similar colour and had my hair curled, the skirt and top looked amazing but my hair, not so much.
    We had an awesome time dancing in groups and generally ignoring all the guys, something to do with a rather large number of them were very very drunk.
    The second time I wore a very very purple dress and went with my friends boyfriends friend. I still had fun, he however was apparently timing how long I was away from him. Which was most of the night, whoops.

  26. i was asked to prom. and i said yes, and i bought a dress. and then the dbag who asked me changed his mind. WHAT? yes. changed his pea-brain mind, and took someone else. yes… it’s true. (i said all this on fb, but i thought it was so tragic i could use it here to garner more sympathy.)

    you were and are as cute as a button, RASJ. i like your blog. it’s a nice place. 🙂

  27. Awesome! I wore a fuschia Jessica McClintock princess number and I had my hair styled by a professional. She was a close friend – that’s how I could afford it! Honestly I didn’t feel hot at all. I was too nervous to eat and since I was barely 100 pounds on a good day, I just looked pale and scrawny. Not a problem I have these days.
    Thanks for the memories, though. Made me remember some nice things!

  28. Junior prom: didn’t go. Wasn’t even interested.

    Senior Prom: Almost didn’t go. Had a Tux. Had use of my aunt’s Ford probe (the original late 80s model, the one a city block long). Date didn’t work out (Her mom said no). Wasn’t going to go, even though I had friends who were. Changed my mind at 5 that afternoon. Showered, and dressed. Basic black tux, black pants. Decided, if I’m going, I’m going to be comfortable. Ditched the black tuxedo shoes. Wore my black and white checkered slip-ons, the ones that looked almost exactly like Spiccolli’s Vans in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Danced with a Junior I knew. Afterwards, we had a party at a friend’s house.

  29. It’s starting to take so long to scroll down to leave a comment! 😉 Jumping on to say that I didn’t go to Prom or Homecoming because I was homeschooled and somehow I’m ok with having missed them 🙂

    1. I can’t complain about the heavy scrolling! I’m happy to read everyone’s comments. As for you, I’m not surprised you didn’t miss prom. You can’t really miss out on something when it wasn’t an option. People ask my kid if he wishes he had a sibling. Same kind of thing. He’s content. All I can say is this: I had a great time. Both times.

      And I have dates for you regarding our upcoming travel! Will send now!

  30. Talk about a trip down memory lane..I can picture myself oohing and ahhing over the double page Gunne Sax spread in Seventeen. Also when I discovered mousse I went a little nuts.

    1. I know. Here’s an SAT analogy question from way back:
      Seventeen Magazine : teenage girls :: ______________ : teenage boys
      a) ping pong
      b) Space Invaders
      c) Penthouse
      d) teenage girls
      Did you see my post on mousse? 😉

  31. Loved this, Renee! And I wrote about my senior prom once. I went alone (by choice). My mom made my dress. My dad bought my corsage. I arrived when I wanted, left when I wanted. I asked guys to dance, and they asked me. I got my picture taken with three of my friends’ dates (making it look like I was really successful with high school dating). It was a lovely evening.

    The other high school dances were somewhere on the continuum from awkward to what-was-I-thinking?!!

    (The post is here if anyone cares:

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