The final, excruciating choice between two prom dress options is a familiar predicament for high school girls every year in early spring. Thought and focus falls on racks of pastels, sequins and lace.
Kenai Central High School senior Taylor Burke and her style assistant and father Eric Burke found themselves picking through an eclectic mix of vintage and modern gowns in the theater dressing rooms at Soldotna High School, this year’s new location for Cinderella’s Closet.
The source of free, recycled garments, jewelry, purses and shoes, is now in its fifth year, and has so far helped 392 girls find the right outfit for the finale of their high school years.
“Without Cinderella’s Closet I probably wouldn’t be going to prom,” said Burke. After some searching online, she found every dress was out of her price range by hundreds of dollars.
Students in Burke’s situation are the reason Meggean Bos, SoHi teacher, created the affordable boutique. Originally it was meant as a resource for Soldotna and Skyview High Schools. She expanded it to any high school on the Kenai Peninsula as it gained momentum in the community.
Normally the clothing and accessories are set up in Bos’ classroom. Relocating to the dressing rooms provided better mirrors for the girls and space for racks of dresses, she said.
Bos said she has met students who have driven from as far as Homer, and last year a counselor from Seldovia came with a list of sizes and colors and chose dresses to bring back home for some students, she said.
Not everyone comes to find something for a high school prom. Patricia Davis will be attending the annual Spring Social hosted by Hope Community Resources, Frontier Community Services, Peninsula Community Health Services and Friends of Athletes with Disabilities.
The dress Davis settled on needed to be hemmed slightly. Volunteers have made adjustment services available without charge for items taken from Cinderella’s Closet, said Bos.
Kita Wilcher was one of the first parent volunteers to help run the show. She and her co-volunteers spent as much time looking through all the dresses as the students.
Wilcher said she had a daughter go through school at Soldotna and remembered the program when it first began to blossom.
“I heard about it and thought it was such a great idea,” Wilcher said. Soldotna senior Emma Seldon, assisted Wilcher in the 15 plus hours it took to unload and organize the space this season.
Having students available to assist other girls sift through styles makes for a comfortable atmosphere, said Bos. It also teaches the volunteers a sense of duty and giving back, she said.
Unfortunately donation numbers are down from previous years, Bos said. Anyone can donate a new or slightly used dress, which brings the entire community together, she said.
One of her more memorable donations was a light blue dress, embroidered with daisies, worn to a prom almost five decades ago.
It went to a girl very much into out-of-date clothing styles, and fit her perfectly, Bos said. She never passes on dresses based on style. One 1980s themed dress with large puffy sleeves and rainbow metallic sequins went to a girl who designed her entire outfit like “an 80s rocker, Katy Perry look,” Bos said.
“She pulled it off,” Bos said.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.