Floor-length red silk trimmed in gold will spin around King High senior Althea Mazanowski as she dances at her school's 2014 prom in a dress unlike anybody else's. In a sea of fashion magazine dresses with prices that make Mazanowski cringe, she will stand out in her $6 thrift store dress that she fitted and detailed herself.
Mazanowski, who takes pride in dressing with originality, attributes most of her fashion sense to thrift stores.
"I don't do the mainstream brand name stuff," Mazanowski said.
Mazanowski and her mother go to Goodwill often and usually visit the dress rack first. One day she was searching through the racks of dresses, studying each one, when she came upon the silky red number. She instantly fell in love with the color and the way it looked when she tried it on.
"I was surprised to find this one, because you really have to dig a lot," she said.
Mazanowski wasn't out shopping for prom dresses when she bought the dress. It originally was part of a costume, a Victorian style outfit that included lacy, poufy sleeves. Mazanowski was unsure she'd be able to find something to match the rest of the costume and was absolutely ecstatic when she found the red dress. While disassembling her ensemble, she caught her reflection in the red dress alone and had a thought.
"Maybe this would make a good prom dress," she said to herself.
Thrifting is ideal for Mazanowski, she said, because her style is the '70s, '80s and '90s, three decades of clothing easily found in thrift stores. She loves finding unique pieces like the red silk dress. Alterations are not a problem, because Mazanowski has plenty of experience sewing. She hand-stitched pretty gold trim around the empire waist of the dress and took it in to make it her size using her sewing machine. Her grandmother taught her how to sew, which allows Mazanowski to modify jeans into bell bottoms and hem shirts, among many other transformations. In her spare time Mazanowski designs clothing and other things using Photoshop.
Mazanowski was delighted to have a dress unlike anyone else's.
"I don't like to stand out, but I like to be different in the respect that I don't like the monotony of having the same style of dress most people are wearing," she said. "I just like to feel different."
Her wallet feels different, too. With the cost of the trim included, Mazanowski spent a total of $12 on a dress that is completely hers.