Friday, May 28, 2010

Buying prom dresses

I’ve heard lots of people complaining lately that “it’s impossible to find a modest* prom dress” these days. This is generally taken to be an indictment of how horrible “the world” has gotten lately.

Well, two problems.

First, i remember hearing precisely the same complaint back when i was in high school (the mid-80s, for what it’s worth), and i’ve seen such complaints in print from the early 60s, and much of me thinks that Ardis over at Keepapitchinin** could probably dig the same thing up from the mid- to late nineteenth century. And even if i’m wrong on that last one, it’s not like this is a new complaint—so exactly why is this surprising anyone these days?

Second, i take issue with the entire proposition. There’s lots of modest (see the first footnote) clothing out there, including formalwear for teenage girls—though i will readily allow that the “prom” section of any semi-randomly selected department store is unlikely to provide many (if any) prom dresses that would be allowed in the door at a church dance. Move to other sections of the same store, and you’ll find a lot of prom-suitable dresses and sets with covered shoulders, knee-length or longer skirts, and so on.

Really, as i see it, the real problem is that people actually believe the branding at their local department stores.*** So please, stop trying to use it to indict people who aren’t you.

* This is using the usual Mormon meaning for the word modesty, which i still think is wrong. Given the context for the discussion, though, it makes sense to use it here.

** An amazing and wonderful blog on, for lack of a better description, the cultural history of the Mormon church. You should add it to your list of regular reads.

*** Well, and that they actually think prom is worth blowing that much money on for a single-use piece of clothing. But that’s a whole nother issue, and beyond the scope of this blog.

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Mommie made Michelle some of the most gorgeous prom/other dance dresses I've ever seen. *I* made a completely modest semi-formal dress for myself when I was 16 because I wanted a certain color of blue and found fabric before I found a dress. Even with my very large breast issue which makes many dresses that would be modest on a normal person quite immodest on me, I was able to find, easily, suitable, modest dresses for school dances. You can go with immodest, or you can look a smidge harder and have no reason to complain.

Actually, the angst you hear over just not being able to find ANYTHING modest for prom, and the thinking that this is new, reminds me of a whine I was reading about how there are NO good books today for kids to read even though there used to be so many. Case in point: Look at all those classics from 50-100 years ago. No classics written today. Well, of course there are no classic written today. That would not make sense to call a modern book a "classic." But give it 50 years and I wouldn't be surprised if Harry Potter is just as much a classic as Lord of the Rings. They also went on and on about how much "fluff" there is for kids and adults alike to read (implication that ANY fluff is bad... I disagree). I can't help but wonder how much fluff was out there 50 years ago. It just has been forgotten and gone out of print long ago just like much of the fluff today will/has. The whines often assume that ALL the books available 50 years ago are still available today which is really a silly assumption. The whines also insist there are NO good books written today which is also silly.

It's like the modest prom dresses. Sure, you might have to look a little harder, but the good stuff is there.