Prom dress for a nerd
May 8, 2007 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I need advice on constructing a suitably nerdy prom dress.

As a joke, partially at my expense, I was elected to prom court. To continue the joke, I need to do something really goofy for a dress. I was thinking of making one out of duct tape, but I'm not entirely sure how I could make one that was comfortable and actually looks like a dress, not a mummy costume. I'm also open to suggestions for other materials, provided I can still move about while I'm wearing my prom costume.
So, how would you go about making a dress for a girl who builds robots in her spare time?
posted by martinX's bellbottoms to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You still have time to enter the contest.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2007

Ooh! You could easily do the bodice of duct tape (put on a old t-shirt, get a friend to help you wrap yourself in a strapless bodice o' tape that ends at hip level, get the friend to cut the back so you can get out, trim away any remaining t-shirt sticking up over the edge of the bodice, construct a method of fastening the bodice, possibly with an extra bit of overlapping duct tape and some velcro, or with grommets and lacing, etc etc.) and then do a really easy full skirt of anything silver or gray and gauzy. Put the skirt on first, wear the bodice over it, voila! Robotic fabulousness!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:48 PM on May 8, 2007

There was an episode of MTV's Made where a girl had a dress made of duct tape. I was thinking ugh TACKY but it actually ended up looking really pretty and comfortable.

You could make Molly Ringwald's dress from Pretty in Pink if you want to do something cute and goofy. Or build Johnny 5 as your date.
posted by spec80 at 1:48 PM on May 8, 2007

I have used duct tape as a pattern making material for costuming for years, and for armor for stage plays.

Start by wearing a cheap T-shirt, the tighter the better - this will form the lining for the finished garment. Have someone help you and wrap the duct tape around your waist, over your bust, and into the bodice shape. The more solidly you wrap the waist to start, the easier the rest will be. Obviously it will be more secure with shoulder straps; they can be duct tape or some other geeky straplike material. Don't worry about leaving an opening. You want enough layers of duct tape that it will hold it's shape even with the weight of the skirt.

Now have your helper cut the bodice open. The opening can be center front for ease of dressing, center back to leave the front more pretty, or up one side. Use duct tape folded over the edges to finish off all the rough edges. As a robot builder, I'm sure you can come up with fun fastenings.

To make a dressmaker dummy I once was wrapped from neck to mid-thigh - I passed out while they were cutting me out. So be careful not to cover too high on your chest - you need to have somewhere for heat to escape.
posted by buildmyworld at 1:48 PM on May 8, 2007

Just wear a Starfleet uniform.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

Please do a female version of Tron guy. You may want to wear undewear. And take lots of photographs.
posted by iconomy at 2:02 PM on May 8, 2007

You could make a something out of gold lame and merge robots (C-3PO) AND TMBG!!
posted by necessitas at 2:10 PM on May 8, 2007

Do they still make the prescored printer paper with punched strips on the sides for the feed cogs? What about steel mesh (I saw a wallet made out of this stuff once)? Circuit board jewelry?

(I was on team 206 in high school - go Vikings!)
posted by backseatpilot at 2:25 PM on May 8, 2007

Four words:

posted by loiseau at 2:28 PM on May 8, 2007

Better yet, forget the robot theme and go with the over-the-top, kitchy prom queen theme. Alternatively, you could dress as the most unfortunate prom queen ever.
posted by necessitas at 2:28 PM on May 8, 2007

A friend of mine made a duct-tape dress for a costume party once. It's not as hard as it appears; basically you need to choose some sort of undergarment that you don't mind consuming in the process, and which gives the finished thing its basic shape (the top, anyway). I think she used some sort of tube top-ish thing...(for which there is probably a more precise name, but I'm well out of my area of expertise here.) Anyway, then you basically just cover it with horizontal strips of duct tape, working from top to bottom. You need a friend to do this, because you have to keep your arms in one position or else it get wrinkled. It looks best if you pre-cut the duct tape strips to the same length, and use one set of strips for the back and another for the front, with the seams/overlap down the sides. Then you cut down the back (bandage scissors work well here) enough to get it off; when you want to actually wear it, pin it, then cover/secure the pins with more duct tape (using pins + tape ensures that you have both the outer later and the fabric inner layer secured, less chance of a 'wardrobe malfunction').

Although there are definitely people who have done it, it seems like it would probably be easier and just as effective to get some sort of metallic material for the bottom of the dress.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:43 PM on May 8, 2007

These crazy kids just made their prom outfits out of duct tape.

Otherwise I recommend watching Pretty in Pink for inspiration.
posted by suki at 2:43 PM on May 8, 2007

they can be duct tape or some other geeky straplike material.

posted by sparkletone at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2007

Didn't one of the characters in She's All That go as part of a strand of DNA or a molecule or something? With blue spandex?
posted by santojulieta at 3:16 PM on May 8, 2007

That was Never Been Kissed, santojulieta; and it was a costume prom, famous couples or something like that. Still pretty sweet.
posted by MadamM at 3:30 PM on May 8, 2007

If it wasn't She's All That, santojulieta, I was thinking it was Never Been Kissed starring Drew Barrymore. A character played by Leelee Sobieski did the molecule/DNA helix thing.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:30 PM on May 8, 2007

Via your robotics hobby you may be familiar with MAKE Magazine. Their new sojourn is CRAFT Magazine. Issue one had a great tutorial on adding programmable LED lights to clothing using using silver coated thread and a microprocessor which could be a great way to light up (sorry) an otherwise traditional prom dress or other outfit for the evening. It would be quite the head-turner, more original (and comfortable) than a duct tape effort and probably more in line with your interests. Good luck and have fun!
posted by rosebengal at 4:10 PM on May 8, 2007

If you're sewing-capable or know someone who is, make a simple, regular dress, but with some really out-there fabric print. Tartan plaid comes to mind, but I think that's still in the domain of the Hot Topic gothy types. Something like circuit board print or computer code would be impressive for a nerd-girl. If you're wanting to make a complete mockery of the prom, something really obnoxious from the Wal-Mart fabrics department (think: nascar, camo, wildlife, etc) could also work.
posted by almostmanda at 4:49 PM on May 8, 2007

Would it be acceptable to go with the Leia Organa look? If you prefer something more modest there's always this fetching long white gown.

I mean think about it, her *real* dad was always tinkering about with robots.
posted by ilsa at 5:09 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't overlook the allure of a chic, shiny chapeau.
posted by rob511 at 5:24 PM on May 8, 2007

Ooohhhh, the Leia Organa look. But one of her more formal frocks?

I also love rosebengal's LED idea! Found this on a Google scan. And here's a nod to Lalex's idea.
posted by jeanmari at 6:21 PM on May 8, 2007

Peep's Prom Dress!
posted by slowstarter at 6:55 PM on May 8, 2007

You could also take a basic black dress and sew/glue old motherboard parts and similar things on it.

I also second Princess Leia (maybe since I used to show up on a normal day of high school with my hair like that).

Or if you did a starfleet uniform, wear one of those kickass minidress ones like Lt. Uhura wore in the original series.
posted by deinemutti at 7:42 PM on May 8, 2007

carrie. although in this day and age, that might have unfortunate legal ramifications...
posted by lgyre at 8:18 PM on May 8, 2007

Perhaps a Rosie the Riveter kind of thing? Like with greasy tools coming out of pockets in an overall-material (denim?) hoop skirt?

And a kerchief, of course.
posted by mdonley at 8:34 PM on May 8, 2007

Hey bellbottem's, I hadn't heard!

I'd go with crazy El-Wire on a really normal dress.
posted by phrontist at 9:32 PM on May 8, 2007

Oh, and would they let you ride a segway in? I'm sure we could pull some contacts to arrange that.
posted by phrontist at 9:35 PM on May 8, 2007

Oh yeah, it's got to be El-Wire, baby.
posted by phrontist at 9:37 PM on May 8, 2007

Seconding the "basic/inexpensive dress with Interesting Things sewn/hot-glued to it" idea. Interesting Things could include El-Wire, LEDs, old radio components (pretttyyy) or other small shiny mechanical parts... since you build robots, I'm sure you'd know where to get them, or have other engineer friends who could get hold of components for you.

I don't know if being Prom royalty means standard-issue headwear, but I think you MUST get out the needlenose pliers and the soldering iron and make yourself a tiara out of leftover robot parts. Oh yes.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:24 AM on May 9, 2007

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