The True Cost of a Prom Dress


Kayla Kelly, Editor

With prom season arriving, the race has begun to find the perfect prom dress. Covered in sequins, silk, and embroidery, prom dresses have taken over everyone’s Instagram’s feed as girls begin to post and show off their dresses on the school’s “WHS Prom Dress” accounts. The prom dresses, however, are becoming more costly for both reputation and budget. Girls travel hours to other states to find their dresses, while some choose to stay local and turn to their design talents to create their own affordable prom dresses.

Many girls traveled far to find their perfect dresses during their shopping process. Alexandra’s Boutique in Fall River is a popular choice, but the trip is almost two hours. For local boutiques, A’s Unique Boutique in Madison and Attaina’s in Guilford are also popular among students. Not only do these destinations cost money, but they also cost time, leaving many girls wondering if it’s even worth it with the rising costs of dresses. The costs of prom dresses have risen over the last decade with now the average girl spending around $300-600 on the perfect dress. The average cost of a prom dress in 2016 was roughly around $300 but now more companies are charging more than ever for prom dresses. The pressure is on as now both juniors and senior proms have their own Instagram accounts to prevent the repetition of dresses.


Many girls have taken it among themselves to reject the societal norm of buying a brand new prom dress, by purchasing and borrowing worn dresses for the occasion. Some purchase used dresses to save both time and money, while some have chosen to create their own dresses to display their creativity. Programs like the annual dress drive fundraiser held by the class of 2023 sell used dresses to help offset some of the costs, providing an easy way to buy other girls’ dresses, many of which have only been worn once. Other students have turned to alternative measures to create their own prom dresses to offset the growing costs and to take advantage of their incredible talents. 


Senior Katie Hawkins, created her own dress for junior prom last year. Hawkins learned to sew her freshman year and relied on YouTube videos for guidance and tutorials during the process. Hawkins was inspired to create her dress after hearing about how much other girls were spending on their dresses and realized that she could make something similar for way cheaper. She realized that “I was only going to wear the dress once in my life and it wasn’t worth it. I made my dress very cheap, and I ended up only spending around $40 for the final product.” Hawkins sourced the materials from local fabric stores and followed a template she found online. “The process was a lot of trial and error and took some time to complete, but It was well worth it in the end because I ended up creating my own custom dream dress while saving money.” Hawkins is not alone as many creatives are making their own dresses for this upcoming prom season like junior, Maddie Parent. Parent was inspired to custom-make her dress when she couldn’t find any dresses that fit her exact measurements and ideal look, “I really wanted something that spoke to me and felt like myself. I feel like it’s hard to find a dress that feels authentically like yourself when it’s created by a large brand and so many other girls have the same dress.” Although creating a dress can be the smartest choice for a strict budget, it will cost you your time, for examples both Hawkins and Parent spent hours creating their dresses. 

Whether you decide to craft your own prom dress or purchase is completely up to you. That choice is simply based on the factors of skill, convenience, and timing. As you only get two proms, you should choose whichever path makes you feel the most beautiful so you fully get to enjoy your day.