This is a big weekend in Seattle for high school dances. My 15 year old is going to two; one at her old middle school and one at her new high school. The difference in tone between these two environments is jarring for those of us who live in more tightly constrained social circles. She's got an escort for both, though neither she nor they seem remotely interested in a romantic encounter. It's just all about getting out, having fun, and wearing something that makes you feel good while you're doing it.
If you skip the scary-looking model, I want to state that going to dances in today's fashions are a lot more fun and easier to manage than the floor-length, body-hugging fashions I wore to high school dances. Having been a big fan of 40's fashion my entire life, I was much more inclined to go for style rather than function. Ari seems oriented towards both, and it's probably a reasonable call.
Taking a trip down memory lane can be a real hoot. I found my old tolo and prom pictures the other day, and got what could only be called a belly laugh out of my 15 year old daughter. "Oh Mom, how could you even go out in public in THAT???" I gracefully choose NOT to point out that her time will come, and God knows what 15 year olds will be wearing (or not wearing) in 2030.
In truth, Ari's got great taste. For the Bush Black and White Ball, she found a vintage, sequined dress for $7, not unlike the $300 Betsey Johnson version shown here. And unlike her less-than-graceful mere, she can totter around on those 4" heels (a point which I HAVE discussed with her regarding later foot problems) without falling flat on her face or taking mincing steps to avoid such a graceless outcome (like I do when I wear her shoes.)
The second dance will be held in the multi-cultural stew that is her high school. Garfield gets high marks for academics and its' music programs. It used to be a sports powerhouse as well, but that hasn't been the case now for several years. Kids seem to comfortably mix it up, and though there are clear cultural demarcations, activities, groups and events, there is plenty of cross-over as well. The Garfield dance demands a different kind of dress; edgier, sexier, with more attitude. I haven't seen the full complement yet, but I am envisioning some combination of hip-hugging skirt, sequined spaghetti tank and something that goes over so she won't freeze to death. And no coat. No one wears a coat when they're stepping out.
And so, I send my girl off with pride. Good fashion sense, a reasonable pocketbook aesthetic, and the group dynamic that seems to be quite common with her age group. And though I long to exercise my skills gained in the theatre department with regard to arranged hair and carefully applied make-up, there will be none of that as well. Guess I'll just go rent "Breakfast at Tiffany's" to get a healthy dose of style as I envision it.