258. For Sale: Prom Dresses Nobody Will Buy

Granddaughter T.T. just left for her Senior Prom.  She looks seriously gorgeous. I can’t show you till tomorrow though when the photo takers will let loose of their harvest.

 It occurred to me to try to compile prom dress photos (girls AND boys) from any friends and family members of all ages that’ll email ’em to me.  (ford@fordvideo.com).  It would be a fun collection to say the least, and could span several decades. The oldest ones – from my generation and sooner –  will only be in black and white but they’ll still be a treasure.  Any notes you could add to describe the clothes, the occasion, your school or date’s name, and the year, would be food for the gods.

In the meantime, this is a collection of  prom dresses worn in my day – the 1940s as found on the internet.  I never owned a prom dress myself – since my fashion guru sister Joan only bought whatever was de rigueur and she always let me wear them (sometimes willingly).  (I hope she can come up with some photos).

This is me wearing one of her dresses at my Senior Prom in 1949.  Note also the modest wearing apparel of my classmates.

I’m the one on the left – (crown on the head and bouquet was due to my inexplicable selection as “queen” of the prom.)  I wish the dress showed up better.  It was lavender with a ruffle all around the neckline.  My sister always had impeccable taste in the involuntary wardrobing of her younger sister.  

The big deal on prom dresses in those days was “fluffy and feminine”.  And, yes, modest.  Back in those days, modesty was considered something to be desired in feminine wearing apparel.

At Mount Mercy Academy, the girl’s school I attended in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when the girls and their escorts arrived for the Senior Prom or other formal occasions, we were temporarily separated from the boys.  The girls were then ushered into the big parlor on the first floor. 

What would be waiting in the parlor was what might appear to be a receiving line of four or five nuns.  It was actually an inspection line.  Its objective was so the nuns could evaluate our dresses.  Any which did not measure up to their expectations of modesty would be altered on the spot.  Right next to the Sisters were tables containing tulle, netting, pins, needles and scissors.

Any girl who had the miserably bad judgment as to show up wearing a dress which showed too much skin, had to undergo a minor transformation.  The next Sister in the “receiving” line would gently but firmly stitch a ruffle of tulle or net onto the offending section(s) of the dress. 

Thanks to my sister’s discreet fashion sense (and my underdeveloped figure), I was never a victim of one of the nuns‘ “makeovers”.  And never – I say never – did it occur to any of those unfortunate girls to cause the experience to be repeated. Lesson learned.  

As you may be aware, times have changed and so has feminine apparel.  As an example, it wasn’t too long ago, that we did the video editing of a documentary for a motorcycle club who had just returned from a journey to California.  At one of their formal evening get-togethers at the camp, some of their wives and girlfriends were dressed only in Saran Wrap.

I don’t think the Sisters would have been pleased. 

Stay tuned for more about prom dresses.  Please remember to send me your prom photo(s) to ford@fordvideo.com.  Now, let’s party!

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3 Responses to 258. For Sale: Prom Dresses Nobody Will Buy

  1. Elizabeth says:

    What a great idea! I loved seeing your prom photo and look forward to seeing others too!

  2. Joan Fitzpatrick says:

    The first line of the song………………….

    “When a Mount Mercy Girl walks down the street, she looks a hundred per from head to feet etc.”

  3. Joan Fitzpatrick says:

    The school song went something like this……………….

    When a Mount Mercy Girl walks down the street,
    She looks a hundred per from head to feet,
    When you see her you’d say,
    Now there’s a girl I’d like to meet,
    She’s got that pep, that style,that winning smile…………………..

    ………the rest of it escapes me

    Whenever I used to sing this to my kids, they wanted to know if we were “street walkers”.

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