Dress code brings added stress to prom season

With prom approaching in just two very short weeks, energy is high with conversation and excitement as the clock ticks on to the big night.

Although some people are relaxed and are just waiting patiently for the night to come, many students are running around making sure that everything is perfect. The perfect tux, corsage and boutonniere, table, hairstyle and nails are just some of the concerns most people have, but the number one concern for most is the dress.

Some girls started shopping for their dress before spring break or even earlier. In today’s age, the prom industry is booming and with that, new dress trends are hitting the stores and becoming all the rage. Cutouts, two-piece dresses, backless dresses, high slits, and low neck lines are all things that most of the dresses in stores have — and are all things that go against the Cary-Grove’s prom dress code.

Many girls have complaints about the dress code and think that they should be able to wear whatever they want to prom. Most people’s reasoning is that if they spend a lot of money on a dress, some people spending upwards of $700, they should be able to wear it without having to get it altered or flaunting their P.E. shirt over it. However, Ms. Saffert says that there’s a reason for the dress code.

“Our vision of prom has always been that it’s really a formal and classy event,” she said. “We even state that in the letter that we send out. In our mind, ‘formal and classy’ don’t mean a bunch of skin showing, whether it’s up top [or the] midriff.”

Ms. Saffert said there hasn’t always been such a strict dress code.

“Part of it is the styles, but years back there were some dresses where [the entire stomach and hip area] was exposed, and they had really low cuts and everything and we were starting to see some of that,” she said. “[That’s] just not what we want.”

Although many students think that the dress code is too overbearing and some may even call it unfair, Ms. Saffert says it’s all for the reputation of the event.

“When that’s sent out a lot of people are like ‘oh my god, you guys are being so restrictive,’ but we just want this to be something really special, and when you’re down there in the lower gym, when everyone’s gathering before they board the buses and you see all of these gorgeous gowns and it’s not all of this exposed skin, everyone just looks so beautiful. We really think it’s great. This is representing our school. It’s this classy event [and] that’s what we’re about here at Cary-Grove”.

Many people also bring up the fact that the slideshow of the dress code consists of six slides pertaining to the dress of the girls while it only has one slide showing guidelines for boys.

“I want to make clear that this is not just about the girls,” Ms. Saffert said. “We do have a slide on the dress code for the boys because we want to continue that classy and formal event with the boys. We require them to either have a tux or or a suit with a tie. We don’t want t-shirts, even if it’s a t-shirt under a dress coat. We have an expectation for them, also. We make sure that we put that on there, too so that we make sure that the whole thing, well-rounded, is a projection of what Cary-Grove is about.”

Girls still have complaints about spending so much money on a dress only to have to spend even more to get it altered to fit the guidelines. Ms. Saffert said that it is “their choice to buy it at first.” Even so, girls still come with concerns.  

“When people come in and tell me about [their complaints], here’s one of the things I tell them: you knew what our dress code was. We sent that out in February. I know some people go [even earlier], but a lot of those people are people who have already seen that dress code before from the year before, and we have a dress code for homecoming. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. We sent the dress code out, and we send it to parents and to students, and we put the posters up, and it’s in the letter, so what more can we do? We’re willing to work with them and [allow opaque mesh coverings].”

Having a prom dress code is understandable, but would be much more so if the everyday dress code was enforced more than it is now — which isn’t much. Ms. Saffert says that that is a bit more difficult, however.

“We’ve got 1,800 students here and for five administrators to be in every classroom, in every hallway, every minute of the day, we’re not going to see every student and what they’re wearing,” she said. “We do depend on our teachers, our staff, and sometimes even other students[ …]to come and let us know. Now, you and I both know [that doesn’t always happen].

“When we do see stuff, we do address it and there are many, many times where we have students either put on a sweatshirt, go home and change, have parents bring stuff up to them, but we [don’t catch every one].

“Again, that goes back to what’s out there in the stores and what people have to choose from. That’s a tough one for us to combat on a day-to-day basis. For our dances, those are one-time events that are special events, so we feel like we can enforce that dress code or have that dress code because it’s a special event that we want to have.”

The dress Prom code isn’t supposed to be something that makes the process more difficult, Ms. Saffert said. 

“I know those dresses are cute, but it’s just the culture that we want to have here at Cary. I think that if people just stop and think about what Cary’s about and how we portray ourselves everyday I think they would understand that we’re not trying to punish people or anything like that, it’s that we’re trying to create this classy event and keep Cary-Grove the way that everyone sees it.”