A Winning Prom Dress

By Elyse Alexandria Holmes

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I wasn’t the only one who was glad I wore a modest dress.

“You win.”

I had just come out of the hotel’s elevator with my date. It was my high school senior prom—the day I had been looking forward to for months. The dinner and accompanying dance were held on the top floor of a local hotel in my hometown in upstate New York. Balloon arches and a long, red carpet led the way into the ballroom where the dance was being held.

“Excuse me?” I asked, looking around for the source of the voice. It was my science teacher, Mr. Keenan.

“You win,” he repeated.

Laughing, I asked him what it was I had won.

“You have the most beautiful dress I have ever seen,” he responded. “I want that dress for my daughters when they go to prom.”

“Oh, I’m sure he tells every girl that,” I thought, smiling.

Continuing, he said, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but not many of the dresses I’ve seen so far tonight cover very much.”

I was a little taken aback by his comment. It was obvious that my dress was modest, but I didn’t think that others would care. I thanked him and continued into the dance.

Later in the evening, my date and I went to the photographer for pictures. When it was our turn to pose, the photographer looked at me and said, “Wow, what a gorgeous dress.”

“I’m sure you tell every girl that her dress is gorgeous,” I said, voicing my earlier thoughts.

“Oh no,” his voice was serious. “I rarely tell a girl her dress is gorgeous.”

Rewind eight months to the previous fall. I knew my senior prom was going to be at the end of that school year, and in my excitement I started searching for a prom dress in September.

My friends and I spent several Saturdays shopping at local stores and trying on their selection of formal dresses. But in my hometown, finding a formal dress that went to at least the knees, wasn’t cut too low in the front or back, had sleeves, and was cute was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

I could have rationalized wearing an immodest dress—it was just one night, only immodest dresses were available, and all of my friends would be wearing them. But I felt uncomfortable just trying them on, and I knew I would be uncomfortable the whole night of prom if I did wear one.

I started looking harder. I knew it would be difficult to find something in local stores, so I turned to the Internet. It took a bit of searching, but after a while, I found the dress of my dreams.

It was a little more expensive than the immodest dresses I had tried on, and I had to get a job to pay for it. But when I received it in the mail and tried it on, it fit perfectly and I felt comfortable. I knew I had made the right decision.

When I walked into prom that night, I never once felt uncomfortable. And I was grateful that I had chosen to stay modest. As my teacher said, I had won.

Dress illustration by Taia Morley; background, © istockphoto.com/tuja66; Roses, © istockphoto.com/natalie_wilson; photograph courtesy of Elyse Alexandria Holmes