Throwback Thursday: My Homecoming Dress


The fall season always seems to ooze nostalgia. Lately, there’s been a generational yearning to return to the relative innocence of the 90s, when our biggest priorities were choosing book bag silhouettes (Jansport vs. messenger) and convincing the nearest parental figure to buy us a Nokia.

There’s nothing tangible about nostalgia. It’s a dissipating perfume you can’t purchase or identify.  But there are the touchstones that the most sentimental of us squirrel away. For me, it’s the senior yearbook I’ve carted to seven different apartments — and each of my homecoming dresses, which still hang in my closet.

None of the dresses were expensive or even particularly well-made. I haven’t worn them in more than a decade. And they were made to fit a teenager. These tendencies veer a little too close to the hoarder side of the spectrum.

Homecoming Dance, 1998. I am with my friend Alana, who introduced me to my husband 11 years after this photograph was taken.

But I cringe at wastefulness, and I wondered if I could reinvent the dresses. (Frankly, I wondered if I could even fit into them.) It was a tough challenge. One dress is much too short to be worn as an actual dress. Another is literally DISINTEGRATING — and doesn’t zip up.

This Dolce & Gabbana knockoff slip dress was the only one that could immediately be worn, thanks to its indestructible synthetic fabric and super-forgiving stretch. Happily, the dress’ floral print and midi length also feel very current.

Daisy Sweater: Wildfox (Dear Fieldbinder) | Homecoming Slip Dress: Hot Kiss (Contempo Casual, circa 1998) | Shoes: Prada (DSW, circa 2005) | Clutch: Marie Turnor | Lipstick: Givenchy (Sephora)
Daisy Sweater: Wildfox (Dear Fieldbinder/Article&) | Homecoming Slip Dress: Hot Kiss (Contempo Casual, circa 1998) | Shoes: Prada (DSW, circa 2005) | Clutch: Marie Turnor | Lipstick: Givenchy (Sephora)

The only problem? A slip that looks coquettish on a 15-year-old looks like UNDERWEAR on a grown woman. I rectified the situation by pairing the dress with an oversized, slouchy sweater from a Cobble Hill boutique. The sweater’s strategically placed blossoms echo the floral print of the dress — and hint at the assets concealed underneath. (You know I can’t resist a witty outfit.)

But I haven’t given up on the other two homecoming dresses. I’ve prepped them for cosmetic surgery, and over the next two weeks, I’ll feature the rest of my homecoming dresses – and how I repaired and reinvented them for 2014.

So you tell me: Are you holding onto any ancient formalwear — and would you try to wear it again?


  • Andrea Billups

    I keep all special occasion formal wear/dresses worn to big events. I have my college graduation dress, the dress i wore to my father and mother’s funeral (the latter is a Marc Jacobs classic that is super chic and bought without an occasion). I share that bc I know my mom would have approved. I also have the two gowns i wore to presidential inaugurations — a black and red Carmen Marc Valvo (that i could never wear again but I adored at the time) and a black Narciso Rodriquez, worn to the first Obama inaugural. This one is timeless, even edgy (altho i paired it with a sheer jacket bc I was working and felt i needed some coverage). I love your daisy sweater/sweatshirt over your floral dress. I’m a sucker for floral. Whether in or out. I just love it. 🙂

    • The Style Pragmatist

      Andrea, I love your stories, and thank you for sharing. Your mom certainly would have appreciated the MJ. But I’m surprised you didn’t wear pink to either inauguration! Please tell me that’s in the cards for 2016 — and take me as your date!