Finding just the right outfit to wear is one of the biggest pressures of prom. Teenagers want to dress to impress.
Since prom took hold at American high schools in the 1940s, boys have generally opted for tuxedos of varying styles and girls have gone in a variety of dresses ranging from ball gowns to Gunne Sax to the more modern shorter dress.
Helping teens find the perfect outfit has become a tradition of its own at Lubiana's Bridal in Barre.
"It's exciting," said Tania Lewis of Lubiana's Bridal. "The kids, oftentimes it's their first time coming out to rent a tux or buy a prom dress so they're psyched about it."
When we stopped in, Sam Matteson and Elijah Schumacher-- a junior and senior at Cabot High School-- were making sure the tuxes they ordered fit properly. Both said they didn't mind spending the $100-$150 it costs to rent the ensemble.
"It's not a bad price and it just makes prom that much more prom-y," Matteson said.
"It's not that much and you're making memories for the rest of your life going to prom," Schumacher agreed.
Those memories are a big part of what has kept the prom tradition alive.
Adults look back on their dances with fondness even if they're sometimes embarrassed about what they wore.
"And it's funny because I think after people graduate and once they get into their 20s and 30s they almost wish they could go to a prom again because you don't have that opportunity to dress up anymore," Lewis said.
Hearing upperclassmen prepare for prom or watching siblings pose for pictures with their dates whets the appetite of younger teens, anxious for their turn to travel town in a limo or borrow their parents' nice car.
"I've wanted to go to the prom since the third grade when my sisters used to come over and bring their boyfriends, and their friends would bring their boyfriends and it was a whole scene and I really wanted to go," said Cameron Perta, a junior at Mount Abe.
And what would prom be without the pictures? Couples posing awkwardly or best girlfriends showing off their dresses in a big group.
"A bunch of my friends all had dinner at my friend's house and we all got ready together and took pictures. Huge group of us just took a bunch of pictures, that was really fun," said Caitrin Walsh, a sophomore at Mt. Abe.
While many of prom's traditions have stayed the same over the years, one thing that has changed is the idea of the prom date. While it used to be socially unacceptable to go stag, many teens now go with just groups of friends, and at least here in Vermont, more and more students are getting comfortable bringing same-sex dates.
"It's really not that different. Everybody seems to be really cool with it," said Jamie Deull, a senior at Milton.
Deull has brought boys to dances before and this year he and his boyfriend, Dan Barrett, are going to each other's proms. It's a new experience for Barrett who moved to Vermont from Florida two years ago.
"I had never even thought it was an option to bring a same-sex date," said the South Burlington senior. "I'd never seen it done before. I'd never even heard talk about it."
Both boys say they feel lucky.
Earlier this year a high school in Mississippi made national headlines for canceling its prom rather than allowing a 17-year-old girl to bring her girlfriend.
"I feel like it's such a rite of passage though to go to your senior prom with someone that you actually care about, so to be able to bring my boyfriend actually it's really exciting," Barrett said.
And for gay teens who don't feel comfortable bringing their love interest to their high school dance there's a Queer Prom just for them. It's put on by Outright Vermont, the statewide gay youth advocacy organization.
One thing nearly all teens will agree on whether they go in satin or flannel, with dates or friends, as boy-girl pairs or same-sex pairs, is that prom is the must-do event of high school.
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