Posted at 11:40 AM ET, 04/20/2011

Prom season arrives, as do stories about unusual dresses

“Stuck at Prom” winners from 2008. (Courtesy of “Stuck at Prom”)
Have you heard? Some teenagers are making their prom attire completely out of duct tape! And candy wrappers! Oh, you’ve been hearing about this every single year for at least a decade? My mistake.

This morning’s “Today” show featured a girl who crafted her prom dress out of candy wrappers, while CNN ran an affiliate story Tuesday about an Ohio teen who used duct tape to create her dress. And thus begins this prom season’s glut of stories about the unique — and by unique, I mean fairly common — practice of crafting dresses out of weird materials.

The first “Stuck at Prom” winners from 2001. (Courtesy of “Stuck at Prom”)
One of the earliest mentions of a duct tape prom dress, which seems to be the pioneer in weird formal wear, in The Washington Post was DeNeen L. Brown’s 2000 story, “Clothing That Sticks.” “Making a prom dress or a tuxedo out of duct tape is, like, so anti-corporate, anti-world hype, anti-commercialism,” Brown wrote.

The first duct tape-sporting promgoers mentioned by name in The Post were Shaelyn Benson and David Daniels in a 2002 Associated Press story, “Prom Fashions Put Couple in a Bind”: “The Wisconsin high school students crafted Renaissance-style formals out of duct tape, and say they spent only about $20 each.”

Tara Frey poses in her dress made of Starburst candy wrappers for her high school prom, which this year has a "Candy Land" theme, in River Falls, Wis. (Gina Marrow - Associated Press)
Although the teens in Brown’s story were going for an “anti-corporate” look, the dawn of these stories seems to coincide with the commercialization of the practice with Duck Tape’s “Stuck At Prom” contest, which began in 2001. The competition, which gives the winners and their schools scholarship money, began after crafty teens contacted the company’s consumer line about their designs, “Stuck At Prom” spokeswoman Lisa Schwan said. Some contestants — there have been about 6,000 from all 50 states and Canada — even knit or crochet with the tape, Schwan said.

The trend has moved from duct tape to all sorts of unusual materials, including candy wrappers, chip bags and pop tabs. Although the “Today” show may have found Tara Frey’s Starburst-wrapper dress unusual, it’s been done before. Here’s a 2004 AP story about a Maine senior crafting her prom dress with the same material. This teen in Iowa, who cited duct tape dresses as an inspiration, created a blue gum-wrapper dress in 2010. Here’s a recent story about a Missouri teen’s tabs and lace dress.

So be alert this prom season, dear reader. More of the usual unusual prom dress stories are sure to come.

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By  |  11:40 AM ET, 04/20/2011

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