The ballgown archives

Mwah mwah dahhhlings, is anyone going to Promaballoona this weekend?  You probably know Oona’s blog already – fabulous outfits, hilarious blog posts.  I love the idea of celebrating one’s birthday in unapologetically epic style, so while I can’t make it to LA tomorrow, I’m definitely up for joining in from across the pond!

When I was at school, the ‘prom’ concept hadn’t really yet made it to the UK (no stretch limos, prom queens, photo shoots, or the like) – we went to balls that now seem almost casual by comparison. 

I went to my first ball at 16 – and having just learned to sew, I made my own dress in dark red duchess satin.  

Not sure why, as I’ve never worn anything else remotely close to this colour, but somehow it fitted my 16-year-old idea of what a ball gown should be.  I thundered through the construction with my brand-new machine: cutting corners, leaving seams unfinished, bodging the fiddly bits, but I did end up with a presentable dress.  I can’t remember much about the night (and no, I wasn’t drinking) except I didn’t get to kiss anyone and I hated having my picture taken.


By the time I was 18, I had a few years of sewing experience – ready for a somewhat more ambitious project.  I modified a basic dress pattern to make it backless to the waist, with wide ribbon straps criss-crossing over the shoulders and across the back.  Once again, pictures are few and far between, though at least you can see my face this time:

Yes, that’s me and Mr B when we were ‘just friends’, chillin’ on the sofa and avoiding our respective exes (who were also at the ball that night).  He kept us all supplied with shots of Jack Daniels and the occasional cigar… and later he ended up wandering around the golf course at midnight, while I was throwing up in the ladies’. Classy stuff.  Three months later, we were going out.

My third ball gown was for my graduation ball at university.  I sort of based it on Queen Amidala’s nightgown, having just seen the final Star Wars installment (so those straps are supposed to be hanging down below my shoulders). It’s another green number, my favourite colour in my teens and early twenties. Suprisingly, this photo was taken before we went out… I have no idea why I look so messy:

…although, here with a glass in my hand, there’s an obvious explanation:

It was such an excellent night, dancing the night away with my awesome uni mates and by-then-fiancee Mr B; our final exams all over with the whole summer to come.  And hey, this is the closest I got to the typical prom shot, taken by my housemate:

(And once more with ‘have you taken the photo yet?’ faces):

So there you have it, the me-made ballgowns – my little satin experiments, lovingly completed with more enthusiasm than skill.  Hope you enjoyed the tour of the archives – see you tomorrow for Promaballoona!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *