Prom dresses come in every shape, size and color, from ball gowns to minis, classic black to bright and vibrant.
Some show more skin than others, though, and schools across the country are implementing policies to address just how revealing a prom dress can be.
Some local students say they don't like the idea of such a policy being established.
Marietta High School student Sarah Studenic gets her prom dress worked on Friday by Robyne Blocker at A Perfect Fit, Blocker’s alterations shop on Maple Street in the Harmar Village. Some schools across the country are establishing dress codes for prom as revealing dresses grow in popularity.
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The
"It's your prom and you're paying a lot of money (for the dress), so you should be able to wear whatever you want," said Marietta High School junior Raven Burkhammer, 17.
Although officials with some local districts say they haven't had issues with students wearing inappropriate dresses to prom, it has been a problem at other schools.
According to media reports, officials at Southmoore High School in Moore, Okla. have developed a 12-page presentation that outlines what attire is acceptable for prom. Crawford High School in Crawford, Texas and Cedartown High School in Cedartown, Ga. are among the others that have established dress codes for prom. At the Oklahoma school a student was sent home last year to sew up a slit in her dress, while in 2010 an Alabama high school student made headlines after being suspended when her dress was deemed too revealing.
Prom dress codes
Some schools across the country are establishing dress codes for prom as revealing dresses grow in popularity.
A "sexy and sleek" category on www.promgirl.com includes dresses with low necklines, thigh-high slits and midriff-bearing cutouts.
According to a 2011 Visa Prom Spending Survey, families spend an average of $807 on prom attire, transportation, tickets, flowers and other items.
"We really haven't had a big issue with that here, fortunately," said Roger French, junior class advisor at Waterford High School. "It's like the clothes at school. If we just communicate with them we expect them to dress appropriately, they understand what that means."
The issue has not come up during the Washington County Career Center's prom, either, according to the school's secondary director, Dennis Blatt.
"We say to our students that at any function, be it curricular or extra curricular or co-curricular, the same dress requirement we have in our student hand book applies," he said. "Our students do an excellent job. They know what that means."
Most school handbooks contain rules regarding the length of shorts and the thickness of straps on shirts, although some of those rules are relaxed the night of the dance.
"We're not allowed to have spaghetti straps in school but you can wear a gown that has spaghetti straps," said Frontier High School principal Jack Mental.
Mental noted that students are reminded that in general, the school's dress code applies during prom.
"We remind them of the length and the amount of cleavage that should be shown and that pretty much takes care of everything," he said. "Our girls have been really good about it."
Prom dresses that are prompting the establishment of dress codes have not only low necklines, but also thigh-high slits, midriff-bearing cutouts and open backs.
Retail chain David's Bridal even has a category called "sexy," which is making up about 35 percent of prom dress sales so far this year.
Those types of dresses may have become more popular in recent years due to Hollywood trends, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.
Celebrities and their fashions have become more accessible to young girls than ever before.
Marietta High School senior Sarah Studenic, 18, said she thinks a person should be able to wear whatever they want to prom.
Her dress is bright orange and has cutouts on the sides and a slit.
"Personally I don't think there should be any dress code for prom," she said. "Most dresses they make show a lot of skin or they're strapless or they show your shoulders. I think each student should have their own opinion on what to wear."
Marietta High School senior Abby Browne agreed.
"A girl can only wear these dresses while they're young and we will never get to wear something like this again, so it makes it special to be able to pick out a dress that is creative, special and fits your personality," she said.
Warren High School student Tiffany Perry said she sees both sides of the issue.
"But at the same time, I feel like everyone is trying to tell us to not express ourselves," she said. "I feel it's a little bit suffocating, but at the same time, I understand where it's coming from."
Although some schools have not taken the extra step of establishing a dress code for prom, many parents set their own rules, including Vincent resident Tammy Gearhart.
Her three daughters, students at Warren High School, are attending prom this year.
"We have a rule (that) the chest or hind end isn't allowed to show in anything they wear," she said. "I know a lot of the girls like the cutouts and my one daughter is wearing a cutout dress but it's not revealing."
She added that her daughter Nikki designed her own dress and had it made, but she will not be wearing it to prom because neither of them are comfortable with how much of her chest it shows.
"The top was way too small and that wasn't the way my daughter designed it. She designed it to cover everything," Gearhart said.
Julie Morgan, owner of J&J's Personal Touch in Parkersburg, said the uproar over too sexy prom dresses is nothing new.
"I heard that two or three years ago. One of the companies went to a sexy line and it was all over the 'Today' show," she said. "It's close to prom season so they're going to gear in and that will be their focus the next few weeks."
Morgan added that girls are not visiting her store seeking out revealing prom dresses, but rather, they're just looking for whatever looks best on their body.
She said she always tries to offer dresses that are tasteful, and noted that dresses can typically be altered so they're not so revealing.
"I get what I think will sell and that's how we look at it...because we know what we can do with it," she said. "What it looks like on a 6-foot-tall model in a catalog isn't what it looks like on a girl in high school."