The life expectancy of a high school dance dress


Photo Credit: Adriana Arroyo

In the act: the dresses that hold all of our HOCO ’22 memories.

Sydney Rosario, Staff Writer

With HOCO ’22 wrapped up, I am reflecting upon all of my high school dresses. As they fill up the darkest corner of my closet and collect dust bunnies around the zippers, I cannot help but feel sorry for them. The life expectancy of my high school dance dresses is never too long, but they deserve a longer survival rate. However, they will never experience one until the end of time. Here is a rough timeline of the life of my high school dance dresses:

Colleen Schmitt ’23, Danica Silvestri ’23, and Tatum Larson ’23 looking so cute in their dresses. I can’t promise that these were their first choice. (Photo Credit: Colleen Schmitt)

5-6 months before the dance: This is the early stage of dress shopping. I look on my favorite school dance dress websites with ease and in no hurry. I screenshot a few as I decipher what I want in my dress: ruffles, pastel blue, sequin, or bodycon are all options I openly consider. During this time, there is absolutely no rush. Panic level: relaxed/10.

Three months before the big day: Two months have passed already?! Things are starting to set in. Homecoming date options become the main topic of discussion among friends, and more screenshots of potential dresses become more plentiful in my camera roll. As I scroll through the websites, the hopeful girls shove their phones in my face to show screenshots of the dress they already bought—keyword: hopeful. Even though I feel a tinge of jealousy towards them, in the back of my mind, there is a good chance their dress may look terrible, and once they receive it, their backup dress delivery will cut it way too close to the dance. Maybe this is cynical? Maybe I am preying on their downfall? Maybe this is evidence of our human selfish tendencies? I don’t know the answer, but I do know we’ve all felt this before. Panic level: 24/10.

Three weeks prior to the dance: One emotion: Ah. I purchased the dress I visited the most often online and in my camera roll. I zoomed in on the screenshot, making sure it looks exactly how I wanted it (even though the model makes it look 30 times shorter than it is). I am anxiously checking my email, hoping my nimble eyes catch the long-awaited email of “your package has been delivered.” I check my front door every day until the brown cardboard box miraculously appears. In the meantime, I start to make up scenarios in my head, just in case the dress is nothing like I  imagined. Panic level: boarderline panic attack, a solid 357/10.

Two weeks: It has arrived. I bolt straight into the kitchen, grab my favorite scissors, and start voraciously destroying the box— it never stood a chance. I take out the plastic wrap that encases the long-awaited apparel I have waited for so long, and my heart immediately sinks to the ground. It’s ugly. I try it on and stare at every crease and ruffle, praying it would look better if my hair weren’t in a messy braid that barely survived school, and my eyebags would somehow disappear in 14 days. Panic level: 15/10.

Julianna Ortiz ’23 and me showcasing our dance dresses that survived Hell Week. (Photo Credit: Julianna Ortiz)

1 week, OMG: I like to call this Upkeeping Week. I take my dress to the tailor’s to make sure it fits to-a-t and get it dry-cleaned so I truly radiate the clean girl look. At this point, I can take a brief breath— just a small release of air because a lot can go wrong in a week. Panic level: praying/10.

The big day: The dress’ moment to shine. Every inkling of stress led up to this moment. All I can hope is that the star of the dance will not disappoint. My worst fear is someone saying it looks better in person than photographed. I need to have a photogenic dress. Panic level: numb.

The afterlife: Usually, I would like to think my dress would find comfort in Heaven where it deserves to be. In reality, it resides -poorly hung and crinkled- in the back of my closet. The dress will meet the other dance dresses I have unfortunately but unapologetically neglected. Over the next few months, nothing has changed, with the exception of a few sequins gone and a thin layer of dust encompassing the once beloved dress. The dress lost its purpose the moment it grazed the hanger it uncomfortably clings to.

From left to right: Emma Vasquez ’23, Amber Lizardi ’23, Francesca McGuire ’23, Emma Oskorus ’23, Jada Alexis ’23, and Megan Mendonca ’23 rocking their Homecoming dresses. (Photo Credit: Emma Oskorus)

It is almost unheard of to re-wear a high-school-dance dress, and if you do, it’s to fancy family dinners around people who have not been in the original midst of the hand-picked dress. I would love to give my dresses a longer survival rate, or at least longer than six months, to see the world. But I will say, it does its part; each of my dresses holds a special place in my heart, where memories were made intertwined with ruffles, sequins, and lace. These make the dresses too special to be re-worn; therefore, I justify why the life of a dress must last less than a year.