If a school or school system has more than one dance in a given year–for example, an 8th grade dance a Junior dance and a high school prom–then I think dances should be made casual, except for the senior prom. Many of the students take special meaning from the event and all of the surrounding rituals of the prom, not just the dancing but also the getting dressed up and having a fancy dress or suit. However, I don’t think people need to go through this process more than once so all dances but the senior prom should be made casual.
I had some fun casual dances in high school and I can safely say that the casualness of the dress code did not detract from the overall fun of the event. That being said, I suppose those with the money will find ways to spend it. Casual looking dresses and male clothes can cost an arm and a leg as well. My parents always found ways to save money even with formal dances, they borrowed tuxes from uncles and for one dance in college I bought a sweet suit from the Salvation Army. The important thing is for high school students to not feel pressured to buy something beyond their means, but that may be asking too much for a high school student.
I think that, while it is nice to dress up once in a while, it is quite silly to buy an expensive piece of clothing only to use it once. I would say that there could be better reusing systems in place to donate old clothes. Limiting formal dances to just once a year would diminish the need to go shopping very often, but would also make the reusing system only helpful one time a year. I think that people should do a better job of choosing their dresses so that they don’t pick something they would never wear again. This is difficult because styles are influenced by designers, and designers want to sell their products at super high prices because they are unique. I think having a theme for the dance would be more fun than making it formal.
They’ll still buy the dresses as a matter of statement… it happens all the time at casual school dances. Removing the requirement might be nice, but it doesn’t address the social factor.
Between my group of friends, we always borrowed dresses from each other and used them for multiple events. I don’t think it would really be possible to limit the amount of formal dances there are but I think schools should adopt reusable programs. There are plenty of charities that collect used formal (especially prom dresses) to donate to girls who can’t afford to buy it new. They should also create a program, almost like a library for renting formal dresses for such occasions.
I think it’s a matter of tradition that girls will go out and get a new dress regardless of how green or casual the event may be. If you’re at a school with a few annual events or even just the main prom event, look into donating the dress (or tux/suit) to an organization afterwards if you don’t intend to use them again. Baton Rouge (I lived there for a few years) has a charity called “The Cinderella Project” which collects previously worn dresses for underprivelidged girls. If you can’t find something similar, maybe start your own!
I think that all schools should have a least one formal dance a year. Yes, it is a waste of a dress, but I feel like it is a right of passage in high school. Also, even if the dances were kept casual, I still think people would buy new clothes to wear to them. As long as people do not get too carried away, I really do not see a huge issue with dressing up once a year for a school dance, when compared to other horrendous things that go on.
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