Teens strip down budgets like a spaghetti-strap chiffon dress on prom night

How are teens getting ready for, like, the biggest night ever? Prom? During this, y'know, recession or whatever? The Miami Herald reports that South Florida high schoolers are trimming their budgets without sacrificing the importance of being trendy.

Education reporter Hannah Sampson spoke to one well-connected student, a class president, who took advantage of a Men's Wearhouse deal by referring enough friends to earn himself a free tux. Other teens are pooling their gas money and renting cars, not white stretch-limos with hot-tubs in the back. One thrifty senior even says she'll be reusing the shoes she wore to homecoming. (OMG, CALL THE FASHION POLICE, LOL!!!!) Seventeen editor-in-chief Ann Shoket tells the Herald that teenage girls who cut spending on nonessential items don't have to skimp as much on hair, makeup or a dress. "It's a real teaching moment for teens to talk about financial responsibility."

Coming up on the ninth anniversary of my senior prom, I can't remember what my budgetary concerns were, but the dot-com bubble certainly didn't have me unpeeling a roll of $100 bills for limo drivers and tux salesmen. Like most teens, when prom season loomed, I dipped into my own savings and hit up my parents for the $300 it cost for a tux rental, corsage, dinner, prom tickets and my share of a ride. I can't imagine the bill is much more than that today.

According to MSN Money, high-school guys in North Dakota spent an average of $213 on prom (girls dished out $296), while a national poll that included big cities found that guys spent about $545 each, girls $530.

For that kind of money, I guess it does make sense to trim where possible. First thing I'd cut is the corsage (sorry, hypothetical prom date!). It's such a faux-formal piece of junk, and it totally brands you as a prom attendee. (Unlike a rented, ill-fitting tux on a 17-year-old boy.) I'd also skip the formal pictures. Why pay for a studio-developed photo when you can have a Facebook album assembled before you and your date even finish dinner?

Looking back, I guess I did let the tux guy talk me into some upgrades I didn't need: that Calvin Klein-style bow tie and vest, the "more modern" shoes. If I had to do it all over again, I'd be more firm that I needed just the basics. But I'd never reuse the shoes I wore to homecoming! I mean come on!
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