Prom; one of the most important rites of passage in many young girls’ lives.
Hours, days, weeks, and even years are poured into this one special night. Every girl wants to have that Cinderella moment, every girl wants that perfect dress.
But at the end of the night when the curls are undone, the makeup is smeared on the back of a hand, and the dress’s sparkles seem to not shine as bright as they did a few hours ago, dollar signs drop and the question remains: Was it all worth it? It’s socially acceptable to invest hundreds of dollars on this particular night to ensure that one will remember it forever.
However, some girls may not have had enough savings to blow in the first place. How do you create a fairy tale night in a red carpet worthy dress when you only have enough money to buy used gowns from the local Goodwill? How do you find a way to stand out amidst the hundreds of other store bought, glammed dresses all the other girls are wearing?
Kyemah McEntyre, an 18 year old high school student from St. Louis, Missouri exemplifies an alternative. Design your own dress. In the long run this option might be more cost effective than buying a new dress and paying for alterations. You will also have a unique dress that embodies your individual personality.
Kyemah designed a dress inspired by her African heritage. It had printed fabrics with vibrant orange and red colors, a fashionable plunging neckline, and a full skirt. The shape and colors of the dress complimented her body and skin tone, and she became a viral hit on social media. She was even crowned Prom Queen while wearing her famous, self-made dress. After the pictures of her dress were shared around the internet, Kyemah was even contacted personally by actress and singer Naturi Naughton, who asked her to design a dress for her for the 2015 BET Awards.
She is quoted in a Huffington Post article saying, “You have to understand who you are because if you leave that space open, you leave your identity in the hands of society. Don’t let anyone define you.”
She used her dress to represent her culture and embody her unique identity. McEntyre was bullied in school but she used her dress as a message to stand up to her tormentors and embrace her originality. She notes that some people tend to resort to prejudice and consequently isolate others that are different. In response to that, her dress was a symbol of individuality and culture.
Another student, India Ross from St. Louis, Missouri fell in love with the Givenchy gown Beyoncé wore at the Met Gala in 2015 and was inspired to design a dress based off Beyoncé’s. She used mesh material and jewels from her local Michael’s craft store. She was able to be economical about her dress as well as stand out in her school. India is now pursuing a fashion career while studying at Columbia College Chicago.
Designing your own dress for prom is a gathering upward trend. It’s a way to save money and create your own unique look that best represents how you want to be remembered on that one special night of the year. Fashion is about showcasing individuality and making a statement, and designing your own prom dress is a unique way to do both