("My Ultimate" will run most Tuesdays and will feature any topic that hops into my head. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the other New England Mamas. . . although they should).
I first attended the prom in 1983. I was a sophomore in high school, going with a senior who was not exactly my idea of the 'hunky older senior', but had a look of inexperience that made my parents comfortable. Back in the early 80's, we all wanted to wear one kind of dress: a Gunne Sax. I'm not sure exactly what these designers were thinking, but these dresses looked suspiciously like ones worn in the late 1800's. All I needed was a parasol and high, lace-up boots.
I'm on the far left. The only skin I'm showing is above the neck and below the wrists. Quite the sex symbol, huh?
Over the next twenty years, there were three more formals, several semi-formals and about six weddings in which I was a bridesmaid. The number of dresses left behind in my parents' home was impressive. And, taking up way too much of their closet space.
So, a few years ago, I heard about a program called Belle of the Ball, a program which is currently going on now. Anton's Cleaners (locations in Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire) will accept gently-worn formal dresses at any of their locations (there are drop-off points at Jordan's Furniture as well). After cleaning the gowns, Anton's holds an event for high school junior and senior girls who would normally not be able to afford the high price of a new gown.
On April 28th, girls who have been referred to the program will be invited to come and look at the gowns with the aid of a personal shopper. After selecting one gown that they would like to wear to their prom, they can meet with hair and makeup professionals for some beauty tips.
There are a few rules for donating a dress: they should be no more than four years old so that they are still stylish (which eliminated that gorgeous Gunne Sax from consideration). They should be in 'gently worn' condition. Anton's will clean all dresses they receive before offering them to the girls.
When I first heard of this program, I was working in an office with many other women. I offered to take up a collection and dresses began to appear in my office daily. Beautiful dresses from formal events, weddings; dresses worn by my co-workers' daughters once; dresses that fit at one time, but were now too small for the owner. I carried more than 20 dresses into Anton's that year.
So, while you may not have a magic wand, you too have all the tools to make a deserving girl look like a princess for a day.