• Carmen Marie Fabio

Going in style

Having never attended a high school prom myself, my first experience with one this past week – once I got over the sticker price shock of the admission ticket – was how to outfit my son who's usually clad in jeans and a rock band T-shirt.

I'm fortunate that my children aren't terribly picky when it comes to clothing and though they are now, as teenagers, beginning to exercise some of their own fashion choices, they grew up wearing pretty much whatever I bought on sale, or at fripperies, without complaining.

“You don't mind that they're second-hand?” I once asked my then 10-year-old of jeans that were not only previously worn, but were Walmart brand to boot.

“I don't really care,” he replied.

God I love my kids.

My forays into every thrift shop and church basement in the region kept me and the family afloat while completing grad school, though I'm now gainfully employed, my kids still don't care about the source of the clothes they wear as long as they meet their respective tastes – and personality.

As my eldest's prom date loomed, I couldn't help but notice posts on Facebook showing proud parents with photos of their own progeny’s prom, replete with dress shoes, ties, and even boutonnières.

“Whaddya think of this?” I asked my son of one of the proud mom-and-son pre-prom photos. “I think he looks really uncomfortable,” he said of the young man of comparable age, decked out in a three-piece suit, tie, and shiny shoes.

Undaunted, (or maybe just not listening) I commandeered my eldest off to the West Island's most famous shopping mecca to score the perfect prom outfit before the big day.

Entering myriad stores with lithe mannequins confidently sporting what every young adult should, ostensibly, want, my own offspring kept shrugging his shoulders whenever I held up the suggestion of dress-pants, button-down shirts, or – shudder – loafers.

“This is just not my style,” he said, a number of times before I began to listen.

How quickly we forget our own moments of youth where we dig in our heels to forge our own identity by rebelling in the clothing choices our parents make for us. I have vivid memories of wearing the frilly pink pinafore dress my mother had made for me a total of once before, at the age of five, I refused to wear it a second time.

She tried again a few years later with a pale yellow coat (I hate pastels!) with a Peter-pan collar. Yuck.

It was an epiphanous moment borne of sore feet and exasperation after traipsing around countless stores with screaming soundtracks when I finally realized that in order to get out of there intact, I needed to let my son exercise his own choices.

And so it came to be that he attended his prom wearing black jeans, running shoes, and a black Pantera T-shirt.

When one of the hall employees later chided him for his attire, saying if he ever got invited to a wedding, those clothes wouldn’t be permitted, my son calmly said, “If I’m invited, it means it’s my friends who are getting married and they know what I’m like. That’s why they’re my friends.”

I think he’s ready for the big bad world

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