Molly Ringwald stands nervously in a grand ballroom. She wears a flowery homemade gown; tears swell in her eyes. All seems lost, but then her date appears, and a giddy smile flashes across her face.
The iconic scene, of course, is from “Pretty in Pink.” If teen films have taught us anything in the past 30 years, it’s that proms matter.
Prom night is as important to high school seniors today as it was to big-haired Molly Ringwalds in the 1980s. To ensure that at-risk students get to enjoy their special night, Working Wardrobes fashioned the Dream Girls and Distinguished Gentlemen Prom at the Irvine Hilton, this year on March 10.
Teens attending the event were assigned a personal shopper to help pick out a perfect ensemble for this year’s prom. Girls selected from an array of elegant gowns, high heels and sparkling jewelry donated by Cache, Jessica Simpson and generous members of the Orange County business community. The Men’s Wearhouse donated tuxedos for the boys.
Working Wardrobes primarily serves adults struggling to find professional success. The nonprofit collects work attire purchased with money from local donations. The organization also runs a career center in Costa Mesa that aims to enhance self-image.
Santa Ana Councilmember Michele Martinez spoke during the event. As an avid supporter of the cause, she had particular interest in the ambitions of the day.
“There are so many families today hurting for money and unable to provide basic necessities of life, let alone [to] purchase a prom dress or tuxedo for their teen,” said Martinez. “These are special times that a teen will remember and should have the opportunity to participate in. Dream Girls and Distinguished Gentleman is giving these young people an opportunity to take part in something they may have not [otherwise] have been able to attend.”
Working Wardrobes aims to ensure dignity and respect for those lacking privilege and opportunity. Such universal and worthwhile goals inspire volunteers from the local community and spawn enthusiasm for the cause. The event was overstaffed with volunteers, many of whom were given the duty of sharing in the joy and laughter of girls and boys who had selected the perfect prom gear.
The event focused on self-esteem and an ambitious view of the future.
“It does everything for a teen’s self-image,” said Martinez. “When you feel good about yourself, you project it. People look [at you] and treat you differently. I hope the teens attending [walked] away with a new sense of self-esteem and confidence.”