Prom Dresses for All!

Prom. It can be a magical evening. Except if you can’t afford to buy an elegant evening gown that oftentimes costs between $100-$400.

Back in 2002, one young woman was in need of a dress to attend her prom, which inspired Laney Whitcanack and Kristi Smith Knutson to start The Princess Project. They started a dress drive and received an enormous amount of support from those in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“One teen, one dress, and the rest is history,” the organization’s Marketing Co-Chair Sweeny Hovhanessian said.

The Princess Project promotes self-confidence by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who otherwise could not afford them.

Since 2002, The Princess Project has successfully served more than 35,000 deserving teens throughout California.

The organization has created an environment of positivity that celebrates bodies of different shapes and sizes. Their work helps to instill a sense of pride and confidence in thousands of teens during prom season, giving them a moment they can cherish for a lifetime.

To qualify for a dress, participants just need to show proof of their current high school status via student ID.

Megan, a Milpitas, California, high school senior who benefited from The Princess Project, said, “I only had a part time job at a retail store and no supportive parents to guide me through prom shopping or pay for my ticket. Thank goodness for The Princess Project! I love this organization.”

Megan walked me through the entire process.

“My friend waited in a line and we were given a volunteer to help us find and try on a dress,” she said.

Dresses are categorized by size, and the volunteers at The Princess Project, otherwise known as ‘Fairy Godmothers,’ help direct the teens to the right sizes and sections, and additionally provide them with advice.

“After that,” Megan said, “you go to the accessories area!”

The accessories area is filled with gloves, earrings, necklaces, small purses, bracelets, and tiaras.

“Once you pick out the accessories, they help you bag everything and give you one makeup piece,” Megan said.

She twirled around with a bare minerals glitter brush in excitement and showed me her final dress, which had a beautiful hand-beaded belt and was bright pink like bubble gum. She beamed as all the volunteers cheered her selection.

The Princess Project aims to make every teen feel special regardless of their economic status.

One by one, teens leave The Princess Project with a new prom dress, a gift bag of makeup, jewelry, and other goodies. But most importantly, they leave with huge smiles on their faces.

Amy Sun

Amy Sun, 23, graduated from Johns Hopkins University and is a business analyst at McKinsey and Company. She was born in Indiana, raised in Michigan, and now lives in Chicago. She is a co-founder and director of the Little Stars Foundation, a nonprofit youth organization, which provides services to local children and seniors that enrich their lives through music. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, playing the violin, and traveling.

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