Bad Decision Tuesday: My Fake Prom

Hello! Can we talk about this picture? I would like to talk about this picture, and---more specifically---about how bad this picture is. I do not think there is a single redeeming thing about this picture, except, perhaps for my friend Lucie's very pretty backyard (in which I am standing) and my friend Lucie's very pretty mum (seen way on the left there) who I can assure you---thanks to the miracle that is Facebook---has not aged a day in the intervening eleven years since I saw her last.  Good job, Lucie's mum! Now please tell the rest of us which eye cream you're using. 

Before we get into my outfit, however, I think you need a little background on this picture. This picture, you see, was taken in the summer of 1997, in England, when I was seventeen years old and in my penultimate year of high school. Except we didn't call it high school, of course, we just called it "school," and that is because we were not in America, we were in England. I, however---consummate Americophile that I am---longed to be in America, and so I made everything around me as American as I could. I ate Poptarts and Skittles and had an enormous jar of Costco-purchased Skippy peanut butter that was the envy of every girl in my boarding house. I listened to American music and watched American TV shows, and this is how I came to suggest---in my second-to-last year of high school, remember, which was not even really high school but just school school---that we hold a prom.

Yes, a prom. At an all-girls boarding school in England. Take a second to wrap your head around that.

Together with my friend Felicity---on the left there in the very short flowered dress, which I have no doubt she would also dismiss as a Bad Decision---we set about organizing it. We badgered teachers for permission, we scouted locations, we raised funds, we hired caterers, we made posters, and we sold tickets: we were so desperate for a Real American Prom that we did it all. And, hilariously, the excitement grew and grew among our peers. Despite the fact that we were---as I have mentioned---captives of an all-girls school, we somehow managed to scrounge up enough boys to attend.

The fateful day arrived---after months and months and months of speculation---and everyone put on their carefully-selected dresses (believe it or not, mine was carefully selected, though I know it's hard to grasp that from the photograph) and had their parents drop them off at the function room in the entertainment complex we'd chosen in a town twenty minutes from our school. Beforehand, however, my little group of friends---one of whom, incidentally, was Victoria, whose wedding I'm attending next week! Circle of life etc. etc.---met at my friend Lucie's house for pre-prom drinks. (Yes, we totally called it that. I know.)

Aaaaaand, I think that about takes us to where we are in this picture.

So! Background out of the way, let us marvel at:

  • My hair. So long! So straight! So obviously dry and damaged! So definitely treated with Sun-In! So not achieving anything by having that twee little flower barrette stuck in the side!
  • My dress, which I vividly remember making my mother purchase for me at Topshop for twenty five pounds. What possessed me to choose a shapeless white shift at least three inches too short I cannot tell you, but there it is. In the photo albums. Forever and ever and ever.
  • My white canvas espadrille wedges, the right one of which I seem to be having some sort of problem with. Both Felicity and Lucie's mum appear to be very concerned about my white canvas espadrille wedge, in fact, but I cannot for the life of me recall why that might be. I have a vague and distant memory of perhaps falling over? and getting a grass stain on it? (Lucie's mum was the cool kind of mum, who bought us Hooch Alcoholic Lemonade to drink in the garden), but I can't remember if that really happened or not. Presumably it didn't scar me for life if it did.

So Happy Bad Decision Tuesday! Now you have another real and tangible example of the sartorial horrors of my youth---white canvas espadrille wedges and all---and if you were having a bad day, I  hope that perhaps manages to cheer you up and put a smile on your face.

As for the prom, in case you were wondering, it turned out to be a terrible night. My boyfriend Dan---whom I had just broken up with---started macking on one of my best friends all evening, which was doubly awkward because I was supposed to be staying the night at her house when prom was over. Also, the catering was kind of crappy. There was tons and tons and tons of cheesecake that nobody even ate.

Monkey Girl
Oct 07, 2008

I'm loving your 'Bad Decision Tuesdays' series!!
You're much braver than me.
It's good to give a shout out to all those cool moms we knew during the teen years. I'll never forget them.

Oct 07, 2008

Ah, the same thing happened to me at my prom! My ex-boyfriend, whom I went to the prom with, was hitting on my best friend, who had a sleep over after the prom. Oh, miserable. So miserable.

Oct 07, 2008

Hey, having a "prom" at an all-girls boarding school is a perfectly American thing to do. We even had one junior year and one senior year, despite having to import boys from the boys schools in the general area and being forced to hold it in the school dining hall.

And if you want a bad fashion statement at a not-quite-an-actual-prom, my roommate's date junior year showed up with one leg of his tuxedo inexplicably rolled to the knee. And kept it that way, all night.

Anne & May
Oct 07, 2008

This post...I'm speechless...I can't...

I actually think you look really sweet and adorable. What I love about this post is that you threw together a PROM. It took the entire student government at my school to pull that off. And we had it at the RAMADA INN! Yes, yes we did.

I actually think this dress is wayyyy too tasteful for American prom. If it ain't shiny, don't even bother!

Oct 07, 2008

That espadrille is one peep toe away from being a clog. Things could have been worse.

I think it was a requirement for all nineties teens to use and abuse Sun-In. Women who don't have the obligatory orange hair pictures just weren't living in the times with the rest of us.

Camels & Chocolate
Oct 07, 2008

My prom experience, too, was horrible and it actually took place in a real American high school. I'll find photo evidence and email it to you sometime, so you can see you weren't the only one who made (consistently) bad decisions.

Oct 07, 2008

However, Sioux, I think Felicity IS wearing clogs!

Oct 07, 2008

Other than the questionable legality of the girls in said picture, I'm not quite sure how any of it is a bad thing.

Oct 07, 2008

Yes, but did any of YOU think it was the height of fashion to use one of those Magic Bun thingys in your hair? You know, the as seen on TV invention that was basically a coat hanger straightened out and covered with fabric? That you wound through your hair in such a way as to create a twee little hair doughnut? And, did you know they were nothing but a hanger and fabric because you MADE one to match your dress, and even bedazzled the ends?


Me neither. (runs away in shame)

Oct 07, 2008

And so you learned what every American High School girl eventually learns: Prom is not all it's cracked up to be. The corsages are itchy, the boys are not especially good at dancing (for the most part, although there's always one or two dashing young dancers, only they're always someone else's date), and the food is generally terrible.

I can't even bring myself to look at photos of my junior prom dress. It sits now in my daughters' dress up trunk, and they won't even put it on. There's nothing quite like knowing your children have better fashion sense than you do. (But they would KILL for your white canvas espadrille wedges!)

Oct 07, 2008

Okay, seriously, I think this whole story is adorable.

Oct 07, 2008

Okay ... here's a perfect example of how we are always harder on ourselves than others usually are of us! And thank goodness. I think you look very cute and sweet and pretty.

Oct 07, 2008

ha! this post made me chuckle. i am not american either, and even though i live in the states now, proms are something i still cannot wrap my head around. that said, i think your prom dress is one of the prettiest i have ever seen (probably because it's not tacky). i had white espadrilles in the mid nineties, too. those were the days...

Oct 07, 2008

This actually did make my day a little better.
I went to prom twice. Once, I spent the entire night watching my then boyfriend dance with his ex-girlfriend/best friend who was also supposedly my friend. Then I danced with *her* date and everyone got mad for some reason.

Then, my senior prom, I went with a friend and spent the entire night distracting the dates of the girls he actually wanted to dance with. Until he left outside to smoke for two hours without telling me where he was going.

High school was fun, no?

Oct 07, 2008

Oh, but keeping with the bad decision fashion theme, I feel the need to disclose that my date for my first prom wore a suit that was shiny. And snakeskin printed. Yeah. And I didn't protest this, so I'm as much to blame as anyone.

Oct 07, 2008

Well, Congrats. You achieved the Dream of having the same kind of crappy time we Americans have at OUR proms!

Oct 07, 2008

At least Felicity's dress is as short as yours. Did you pick them out together? I think the flower barrette is priceless.

Oct 07, 2008

Proms are so overrated.

Middle grandson, lives with us, has attended two years running with girls who asked him and gotten dumped both times.

And, your dress was positively demure. My daughter is fond of saying that her son, another grandson who lives north of us by three hours, attended the prom with his girlfriend wearing a napkin. The napkin was around her breasts, the rest was just sort of a hanky here and a hanky there I'd say.

Oct 07, 2008

The night was terrible? Congratulations, you had an authentic prom experience. For my senior prom, the boy I was supposed to go with backed out at the last minute, so I had to go stepbrother. Oh yes. That made the "Grand March" super fun- each couple was announced and then walked down a staircase while all the parents took photos. Um, at least our parents got to use less film.

Oct 07, 2008

prom was all about the getting ready experience and NOT the actual event.

we have at work a wall with all of our (bad) prom and formal dance events. it's pretty awesome. it's pretty embarassing. i suggest you do this at work too!

Oct 07, 2008

Just realized you're heading to England soon-ish and hey, that's where I am !!! So, if you need to hear an American accent during your travels, feel free to drop me a line and seeing as I live only a moments walk from a train station, I could even have a cup of tea ready for you, should you be passing through. Hope you have a lovely time. :)

Oct 08, 2008

I am pretty sure i had a dress just like that. only in black.
it was a topshop number too.
and £25 was a lot to spend on a dress when i was that age {come to think of it - take a trip to primark whilst you are back and you'll see it still is! £8 dresses are all the rage now!}

Oct 08, 2008

I'm laughing at this picture but not for the reasons you might think. You see.. Any guy would look at that picture and see absolutely nothing wrong with it. You might be embarrassed, but I think it's cute.

God.... men and women sure are different. LOL!

Oct 08, 2008

see? you are more American than i. my private Chicago high school didn't have a prom. boo. hiss.

Oct 08, 2008

No one ate cheesecake? That seems like the biggest bad decision of them all.

Oct 08, 2008

hmmm...I agree. the story and the photo are adorable. come on! show me some REALLY bad decisions....not that I'll post any of mine.

You, Internet, are too public for some of my bad decisions.

Oct 08, 2008

What's worse? Those sheath dresses as pictured, or wearing a similar sheath dress with a cropped denim vest? Yeah, I thought I was soooo cute around 1998 when I wore an outfit like that, complete with platform chunky soled sandals.

Oct 08, 2008

Can I just say how much I love this entire series! Adorable.

Oct 08, 2008

Well, I think Dan's antics and bad catering made it a TRUE American prom.

Oct 09, 2008

Why on earth didn't your classmates (and the ring-in boys) eat the cheesecake?!

This is very upsetting.

Oct 09, 2008

1. So, your prom sucked, huh? As other commenters have noted, that makes it a completely authentic American Prom. They all suck.

2. I think that your friend Lucie's legs count as two exceedingly redeeming things. But that's just me.

Oct 10, 2008

Oh, lawd, bad decisions... have I got plenty of those! If bad decisions were skittles I'd have a mouth full of cavities.

Yeah... not sure what that meant either, but for the record I love this series. :)

Oct 13, 2008

I didn't realize the girl in the flowered dress wasn't you until I'd looked at the photo several times (her hairdo then looks more like your hairdo now - that's what did it).

Call me crazy, but I don't think either one of you look bad at all for seventeen year old girls in the 1970's. I was wearing black parachute pants and spandex, with leather boots and chains at seventeen. Compared to that, you look positively chic.

- M