Reusing dresses after prom season


Caroline O'Brien

Students peruse through the plethora of donated prom dresses at a giveaway event.

Maya Greenblum, Reporter

Montgomery County teenagers pile in to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (BCC) in search of a prom dress at the Once Upon A Prom event, marveling at the hundreds of donated dresses hung on racks around them, each with the potential of being worn a second time. 

Once Upon A Prom was passed down through BCC junior Brooke Silver’s siblings for 13 years. The organization began as an outlet to even the playing field for prom apparel since the excessive prices stopped some high schoolers from attending the coveted event. Since teenagers presently spend an average of $700 solely on prom, according to the Once Upon A Prom website, Silver’s team is aiming to provide prom attendees with reused apparel in undamaged condition.

“We want all students to be supported in the way they need to be,” Silver said. “This year, we’ve expanded our outreach a lot. We’ve reached out to schools in Prince George’s County and farther in D.C.”

The organizers ensure that their apparel serves all body types by providing sizes ranging from double extra small to extra large. The organization doesn’t limit clothing selection based on gender and works alongside BCC’s Gender and Sexuality Club to ensure that their inclusivity is extensive. Through their pursuit of inclusivity, the organization has grown tremendously and currently has about 600 dresses and other items to give out.  

“We are willing to pick up or do whatever our donators would like for us to do at their convenience, in order to make it easiest for them to donate to us,” Silver said.

While much of the attire has been donated by previous wearers, some of it is brand new. The organization also offers entirely new apparel from a design group in New York that serve as sponsors, gifting them with about 300 dresses to contribute to their cause. 

A giveaway event is being arranged by Silver’s team on March 3 from 12 to 6 p.m. at BCC high school, and will encompass a variety of tuxedos, jewelry and boutonnieres as well as dresses to provide for all teenagers wishing to attend prom fashionably. BCC junior Vittoria Bianchini, a member of the Once Upon A Prom staff, has gained valuable experiences from her position. 

“Working for the past three years, we have seen a lot,” Bianchini said. “It definitely teaches you a life lesson that we should be grateful for what we have, and that not everyone has the same opportunities.”

The thought hadn’t occurred to senior Samantha Eidelman to donate her prom dress after the event, but it appealed to her after learning of Once Upon A Prom’s goal to provide financial aid for all teenagers. Eidelman realizes the social pressure surrounding prom apparel, and feels fortunate to be free from the financial burden. 

“To be able to go to high school prom is not an experience people should have to miss out on just because they can’t afford a dress,” Eidelman said. “If donation is an option for you, I think you should pursue it.”

Once Upon A Prom will accept any gently used, particularly sized, or seemingly outdated dresses–no questions asked.

“All students should have equal opportunity, this is just us helping to fight for students restricted from their personal situations by making sure that they can go to prom,” Silver said.