It’s been eight years since I went to my prom. Yes, yes, I’m an old man. Last night, I went to another; not as a guest, but as one of the crazy, blood-thirsty paparazzi who swarms limousines and hummers and trolley-cars trying to get a good shot of the overly confident and overtly sexualized high-schoolers on their way to what will inevitably become a holy grail of bad memories, smeared mascara, and bruised knees.
No, I’m not a pervert looking to expand my personal collection of teenager photos. I’m a fashion critic (and also the bigger brother of someone who was actually attending the prom). Eight years ago, I said it. And last night, I said it again: Prom fashion is the worst fashion.
The majority of guys seem to always fall into the tuxedo trap: ridiculous color-combinations of bow ties, cummerbunds, cuffs, and shoes. The all-too-on-the-nose raised collar, which provides a little too much fabric and distorts the neckline, so it becomes nearly impossible for your woman to kiss you on the neck without getting poked in the eye. In principle, I am against tuxedos; they make a man look like a magician, and the only thing worse than wearing a tux to your prom is wearing a tux to your wedding. What’s your trick magic man? Are you going to make a bunny rabbit disappear, or are you just going to make your self-respect disappear?
For the guys who don’t wear a tux (which is about 15%) there is not much more hope. I am a huge proponent of a stylish and sharp suit with a simple tie that pops and a killer pair of shoes. However, all of the suit-wearing prom goers I saw were completely mis-fitted. Tailoring is more than half the battle! Shoulder pads were too big, too wide, and made everybody’s head look small. Shirt-cuffs were either too long or too short, creating the illusion of being either too little or too big for the suit. Pants were too long; dragging in puddles, getting stepped on, completely covering up the detailing of a good pair of socks, or crumpling up on top of the shoe like a load of dirty laundry. And then there’s the tie situation. Now I love a long tie, with a good half or full Windsor knot (depending on the setting) or a great skinny tie in a more casual situation. The problem with the prom-going crowd is one of color choices. I saw some of the loudest, craziest patterns I’ve ever seen. Bright greens and muted yellows. Metallic silver, blue, gold, and white. And oh so much pink. What is it with pink these days? Some men I’ve talked to claim that wearing pink projects comfort with one’s own sexuality and masculinity. As if wearing it meant you were more of a man. I disagree. To me, the height of masculinity is a well-tailored, classic suit with a clean tie and an amazing watch. Frank Sinatra knew it, the Reservoir Dogs knew it, and Michael Buble still knows it.
But I digress. What about the girls?
I will keep this short. Why must you purchase those hideous dresses from Deb? Why must you enhance your bust-line to near fatal levels? Why those ridiculous up-dos with gigantically big-circumference curls? And why, oh god why, all the body glitter? What’s with all the shiny, bedazzled, skintight gowns? And what’s up with the Freddy Krueger nails?
I understand that most of those girls were going to end up on a hotel room floor that night, rolling out of bed in a drunken stooper the next morning, but Jesus, a lot of those girls looked like that at the BEGINNING of the prom!
And one last thing to both guys and girls: Please stop going overboard with the Hollister brand perfumes. We ALL know that you shop at Hollister!! You don’t need to assault us with it.
In closing, I leave you with the sour words of Michael Weston’s heartbroken character in The Last Kiss: “I loved you! I took you to your fucking prom!” Somehow I knew that in 8 years, most of those guys from last night would be proclaiming that same sentiment to their ex-girlfriends…referencing that “great” night they spent together at the prom, as if it were some grand event in the course of a relationship.
Looking back, I see the prom as just what it was: an over-hyped, overrated night full of bad fashion, worse food, and even worse yet music and dancing. It was full of people with high hopes for their future. Ah, how wonderful it will be when the weight of the world (and high gas prices!) crushes their spirits and they’re forced to sell me Verizon wireless crap at the local mall.