Updos, long gowns, corsages and boutonnieres. For many, prom night is a rite of passage. It’s a time to dress like royalty, dance like no one is watching and hang out with hometown friends one last time before college or career. For some, the bills associated with the event can be cost prohibitive. That’s why South Burlington High School is holding its annual formal wear drive, this year expanding from gown donations to men’s attire as well.

From April 29-May 15, students and community members can arrange a time to drop off gowns, dress shirts, suit jackets, shoes, jewelry and more by contacting ninth grade dean Denise Weaver at dweaver@sbschools.net.

“Every single thing that you need to fit the mold of what it means to go to prom is super expensive,” volunteer and SBHS senior Audrey Clay-Streib said. “South Burlington, being a relatively wealthy community, it’s kind of assumed that everyone can afford that, but that’s actually not the case.”

This year’s prom tickets cost $30, according to Clay-Streib. But with all the accoutrements, from hair to nails to flowers to transport, costs add up quickly. While the drive has amassed an approximately 30-dress collection from years past, Clay-Streib is eager to add some more, as well as gather men’s wear this year.

“It’s really important that everyone can go and everyone can feel special,” she said.

Students interested in browsing the collected wares can contact Weaver to set up a time. The goods are free for all students and available through May 17, the day before prom. According to Clay-Streib, student volunteers are not involved in viewings to maintain confidentiality. That keeps the process as comfortable as possible by removing any fear of judgment, she said.

In years past, the event has solely been advertised within the school, but Clay-Streib is hoping a Facebook post she shared on SB VT Community Watch, as well as personal asks she’s made of neighbors, will help rally more donations. Oftentimes formal wear can be single-use attire, she said, adding this drive is a chance for folks to give their garments a second life, as well as make someone’s night special.

“It’s a great cause,” Clay-Streib said. “People are only positively affected by your donation.”

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