The maxi dress: prom gown gone wrong or Fifth Avenue perfection?

12 May 2009

I have a confession for TVC readers:  I was prom queen. 

That’s right.  Me, queen of satire, sweatpants and with glasses to boot, was once a high school glamazon.  In addition to preternatural bronzed skin thanks to the local tanning salon, a crown of highlights that I still wouldn’t replicate today in favor of my natural hair color and a plethora of rhinestone jewelry from Macy’s, I donned a $400 floor-length taffeta dress that was the very epitome of a Cinderalla story.  (I should also note that I begged and pleaded with my mother to buy me this dress, as my salary as a coffee-slinging counter girl didn’t exactly make the cut for such an extravagant purchase.  She obliged mostly to shut me up and to regain some “peace and quiet around here.”)  The dress, which was white, had a tight, corseted bodice encrusted with Swarovski crystals and flowed to the floor with twenty-something layers of mesh tulle.  When paired with clear resin heels and an attitude straight from a Janet Jackson music video, my 5’4” frame towered over my classmates and won over the reception hall staff, our “judges” for the evening.  (Take that, Perez Hilton.)

That was my story then.  Nine years later, my catwalk consists of the sidewalk; my competitors are the other rush hour commuters with bagels and briefcases in hand, not dreamy dates from the soccer team or a Bonne Bell lip gloss.  Our judges consist of the narrowed eyes on the seat next to us in the subway, which subtly glance up and down at the fashions du jour and make mental notes to avoid a trend at all costs or to fly like hell to the nearest H&M before it’s completely sold out.  And with prom season in full swing, memories of that floor-length dress flood my memory and force me to notice the flux of women in maxi length dresses on the streets of the city. 



Interestingly enough, some of these dresses – often printed with funky floral or geometric patterns – could be considered prom-worthy, if paired with the right heeled sandal and silky pashmina.  When paired with bejeweled flats and a pair of oversized sunglasses, though, the maxi dress is contemporary, cool, and a relief to women everywhere who want hemlines shorter than their nether regions.  As is the case with many styles that sit on the fence of being pushed to black tie or totally bohemian, the key is to accessorize wisely. 

The maxi dress:  a flashback to that special night of dancing to Boyz II Men and raucous in a limousine, or summertime’s newest “It” piece?


alex curan & friend (



-Karyn Polewaczyk 

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Posted by karynpol at 11:30 AM
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