A passion for fashion: Unique prom outfits

Ada Franey in the prom dress she designed and sewed. Photo Courtesy of Ada Franey.

Ada Franey in the prom dress she designed and sewed. Photo Courtesy of Ada Franey.

by Molly Krulewitch, Business Manager

The sun is setting on the class of 2022’s high school career with graduation just around the corner. While the senior tradition of prom is a social event, fashion, for some people, is a passion, beyond a hobby. 

Some people, like Ada Franey, senior, made their own outfits. “I bought my fabric at the beginning of April,” she said. “The closest fabric store besides Joann’s is all the way down in South Seattle… but I feel like I’m getting a little bit of a deal because I only spent $70 on fabric and usually prom dresses can cost upward of $200,” Franey said. 

She made her first dress in 2020. “The summer after sophomore year, I made my first major project. It was this purple ball gown,” she said, but she wasn’t alone in the idea to make her own prom dress. “I actually hadn’t really thought about making my own prom dress until I had friends ask me about it.”

To Franey, her design is personal. “I make all my own patterns, all my own draping, and drafting so it’s all mine…I think that I am doing my design based on what I wanted to wear. I kind of wanted to do something that wasn’t as trendy just to do something a little different, give people something more to look at than what everybody else was doing,” she said.

When all the responsibility is on you to make your own perfect garment, it’s not all perks. “I do feel like there’s a little bit of added pressure if people know that I’m making my dress, like making sure it’s actually good and looks professional and is something I’m proud of,” Franey said.

For some, prom fashion is fun dresses, suits, and corsages, but for others a muddled mess of gender dysphoria and awkward family discussions. Street and school fashion have notably evolved over the years but it seems prom fashion is not up to speed. 

“I told my grandma that I was going to wear pants to the prom, and she was speechless. [She] did not talk for 15 minutes,” said Ren Healy, senior.

To him, as a trans man especially, prom fashion shouldn’t be a point of contention. “It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, it’s just that I’m wearing pants instead of a dress. It should just be like ‘have fun and wear what you’re gonna wear,’ that should be the least important part honestly.”

With an unofficial dress code, being trans at prom can feel like you’re out of options. “I was just kind of stuck. I didn’t want to wear a dress to prom and I didn’t want to wear a suit, but I was like I think I’m just gonna go with the suit. I didn’t really know what to do,” he said.

Finding one’s own personal style can be helpful in affirming one’s identity in the queer community. “I think that my style is clown-inspired, just kind of goofy, messy, colorful,” said Healy. “I’m wearing humongous wide-leg-bell-bottom-esque pants. They’re true vintage from the 80s,” he said. “They’re white and covered in neon floral, just like a million different colors, disco queen vibes, and then just a white little mesh top number and a leather jacket as a blazer.”

Though Franey and Healy went for very different looks, both feel as if they have found and made the perfect outfit for them. Healy achieved the look he wanted: “It completely lacks masculine and feminine and I love it,” said Healy. 

For Franey, creating her own prom dress was quite an achievement. Said Franey: “Getting to have my own moment is really exciting.”