Prom season starts in April, but already schools and students are starting to plan. High schools set a range of dress codes for the event. But area principals say appropriate attire has never been an issue at prom.
"With our prom we've always found that the dresses are very long for the most part," said East Grand Forks Senior High Principal Brian Loer. "It's always been a traditional evening gown. ... We've never really had an issue of shortness of dress."
Forum News Service reported Monday that the Osakis School Board in Minnesota approved a policy requiring girls to submit photos of themselves wearing their chosen prom dresses before the event to ensure they would not violate the dress code and be turned away from the door on prom night. Interim Superintendent Randy Bergquist said Tuesday the photo requirement was merely an idea discussed at the School Board's Feb. 13 meeting and official action was not taken.
Loer said Senior High does not set a specific dress code for prom and students aren't required to get their outfits approved by the school in advance.
Nancy Zalewski, owner of Kristen's Bridal on 32nd Avenue South in Grand Forks, said the prom shopping season starts getting busy in February. She said she has not yet sold any short dresses for the occasion. Some of the season's most popular trends are two-piece outfits featuring cropped tops or dresses with midriff cutouts, open backs, patterns and high-low hemlines.
"I think the designers are going up a little bit higher to make everybody happy," she said, referring to high waists on the two-piece outfits. "Schools, moms, dads."
In Grand Forks Public Schools, the prom dress code accommodates the bare midriff trend. While the code states excessively bare stomachs are not permitted, it does not prohibit them. The guidelines also allow open-backed dresses.
The dress code states boys can wear dress suits, tuxedos or dress pants and shirts with ties.
Tracy Jentz, the district's communications coordinator, said in an email to the Herald that the schools share the prom dress code with students and parents each year before the event.
"We want all of our students and their parents to be informed well in advance, especially those who may be unfamiliar with the concept of prom," she said.
Grafton Public Schools has similar guidelines. Grafton High School Principal Darren Albrecht said there have not been any issues with the dress code. In the event of a violation, he added, the goal in addressing it would not be to embarrass the student.
"I think we're in a good place with it, because people understand it, and they don't try to take advantage of it or cut the line with it," he said. "We just count on people to use some common sense, and then if they don't, we're not going to expose them, but there's going to be a conversation."