Homecoming Dresses: One and Done?

After homecoming? The dress hangs in the closet, a distant reminder of that one school dance.

Lily Kolakowski

On September 24, 2022, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School hosted its annual homecoming dance, a formal dance typically beginning with pictures and ending with a night on the dance floor. The moments leading up to this pinnacle of fall usually consist of finding proper attire: a dress, a suit, or some combination of formal dress wear.

In assuring the perfect night, according to senior Lea Shweiki, “the dress is one of the most important parts.” Shweiki states, “I always make sure that I have a comfortable dress that fits well, looks good on me, and is a perfect color.”
But what happens after homecoming? The dress hangs in the closet, a distant reminder of that one school dance.

Katherine Jones, a junior at B-CC, recounts her past homecomings: “In the past, I usually bought my dresses from Revolve.” Jones goes on to explain the issue she faced in regards to the money she spent compared to the use she got out of the dress. When asked about where her dresses are now, she says with a laugh, “Hanging in my closet.” However, this year Jones says she made it a priority to learn from her mistakes. “This year I bought my dress from Poshmark.”

Poshmark is a secondhand website where users can buy and sell other clothes and accessories. “It was originally from For Love and Lemons and cost $200; however, I bought it for $80.” Jones is just one of the many Barons who are starting to utilize these thrifting apps to their benefit.
Junior Anna Bussolo, like Jones, also bought her dress secondhand this year; however, Bussolo found hers in a real thrift store. “I thrift a lot,” Bussolo states during a sit-down interview. “That’s why I’ve been able to find my past two [homecoming] dresses at thrift stores.”
Last year, Bussolo sported a short pink dress with blue mesh on top to dance. Like her dress this year, it was purchased from a thrift store. Her dress was a mere $8, a drastic drop from some of the prices found when searching for a firsthand homecoming dress online. Bussolo plans to wear a green dress this year. “It is just a green dress with a scoop neck and a lace back,” but the stand-out factor for her is the price. Placed at just $10, the Macy’s bodycon dress was purchased for only a fourth of its original price.
When asked what her plans were for the dress after the dance, Bussolo recounts her experience from last year. “I gave [last year’s dress] to my sister because she’s in college and she likes to wear dresses when going out.” As she looks toward the future, she believes that her dress from this year will not only be worn to the B-CC homecoming, but also to the dance for Blair High School, as she hopes to get as much use out of it as possible.
It is not just girls who look to showcase their best fashion for the best price. Senior Eli Toure described how he wore his grandfather’s jacket to the school dance. “I just wanted an oversized look and he’s bigger than me. This way I don’t have to buy new stuff. I don’t go to a lot of weddings so I don’t really have a need for a new suit right now.” In addition to the jacket, Toure wore a pair of shorts that he already owned, as well as some new shoes that he decided to buy firsthand. “I plan to wear these shoes on a day-to-day basis, while my jacket will probably just go back to my grandfather,” states Toure when asked about the afterlife of his outfit.
Kat Jones recommends for all to check out the Poshmark app. “Basically, just find the dress you want on the mainstream website and search up the name on Poshmark. They usually have it and it’s almost always much cheaper.” Bussolo loves thrifting her dresses because “you get a unique dress and it’s also good for the environment. And spending $60 on a dress you’re going to wear once is a little ridiculous.” Even Toure hopes to encourage more to find sustainable alternatives when looking for homecoming clothing: “you can limit waste and find very unique pieces [when thrifting].”
As B-CC homecoming becomes a past memory and students look toward other dances and formal occasions, websites like eBay, Poshmark, Thread Up, and Depop, as well as physical thrift stores, are just a few of the hundreds of places where clothes and accessories can live a second life.

If you do happen to buy a dress firsthand and find that you do not have any occasions to wear it after the dance, consider donating or reselling it. Not only will your dress get a second chance at life, but there can be profit involved in the exchange. It is never a requirement to buy used clothing, and in some instances, it is probably favored not to buy such clothing. However, it is always important to consider any alternative methods in order to make even the smallest impact on the health of our world and our wallets.