Suiting Up for Prom


Some fabulous Western Hemisphere writers, Olivia Gallmeyer (left) and Jessica Klees pose before heading to prom

Olivia Gallmeyer, Managing News Editor

I guess that I’ve always considered myself someone unafraid to go against the norm, but thinking about something is a lot easier than actually putting it into practice. That’s exactly how I’d describe my decision of prom-wear: simple in thought, intimidating to implement.

I’ve toyed with the idea of wearing a suit to a formal event for years, seeing fabulous women such as Janelle Monáe and Emma Watson rocking menswear on the red carpet. However, it was always an abstract idea in my head, brushed aside as “something for the future.” It wasn’t until two weeks before prom night, shortly after I made the decision that contrary to expectations, I would actually go to prom, that I started truly evaluating my wardrobe options- namely “oh wait, I have two weeks, when am I going to find time to shop?”

After a series of failed dress try-ons at Fashion Square as well as my favorite consignment shops, the weekend before prom I finally embarked on a Short Pump adventure with several of my closest friends, with their support being just enough to bring out my self-confidence. The moment I tried on a blazer at Macy’s, I was hooked on the idea.

Admittedly, it was a little odd suit-shopping amongst all of my dress-wearing friends; while they were clad in sparkles and sequins, more often than not I’d find myself browsing the business section. Which brings me to another issue I encountered: it seems there’s no one store that seems to have the perfect female suit formula. One store would carry blazers but no dress shirts, another would seemingly sell no pants at all. In the end, all of the aspects of my suit came from different stores. The seemingly innocuous white dress shirt was the hardest to find, with almost everything being way too sheer or too flouncy. These problems could have been solved with a simple visit to the men’s department (which I indeed did to obtain a bowtie, for obvious reasons); however, being only 5’4”, I figured sizing would not be on my side.

In the end, I spent about as much as I would have buying a dress, if not slightly more due to the multiple garments being purchased. The most surprising aspect to me was the bowtie: it’s a tiny piece of fabric, how can it cost $40? Despite the costs, my fashion choice had one clear advantage in the fact that it could be easily reused. Unlike my ball gown-wearing peers, my simple black blazer, dress pants, and red heels are pieces of clothing I can easily see myself pulling out throughout my life for events such as job interviews or Model Congress, making my expense well worth it.

I’m sure I got some surprised glances on prom night, but the feedback I got from people was nothing but complimentary. Personally, that night the only outfit complaint I had was how hot I felt- as in physically, temperature-wise. It gets very warm dancing in a full suit jacket and pants. But overall, I didn’t feel any qualms about my decision, or regret at the fact that I didn’t wear a dress. Instead, I gave myself a chance to make an already unforgettable night even more memorable.