Emily O’Gara dropped a mere $58 on her prom dress, heels, and handbag.
She did, however, have to put in hours upon hours of meticulous work and enlist her family to do the same. That’s because she made her entire outfit out of duct tape.
The now 19-year-old used 20 rolls of duct tape to create her truly breathtaking geometric-and-floral patterned dress. She also helped construct her date’s matching tux and gold waistcoat. That initial $58 investment paid off, with interest — The Lincoln, NE won a $10,000 college scholarship for her hard work.
Duck Tape is responsible for this lovely prize. The company has put on an annual competition for the last 17 years, challenging high school students to create formal wear out of duct tape and doling out impressive prizes to the winners.
Judges select finalists but the public votes for its favorites. O’Gara was the 2017 winner, and you can check out current 2018 submissions here. Though they have big duct tape shoes to fill, O’Gara has some helpful advice:
“What I think helped me was designing a dress that looked like a real dress. So many of the comments we got said things like, ‘Can’t believe that is made out of duct tape’ or ‘I’d wear that dress,’” O’Gara said, according to Time. “You can go super crazy with it but you also have to remember to appeal to the people who are voting for you.”
The inspiration behind O’Gara’s dress was architectural. The hexagons adorning its bodice reference a Marcel Breuer-designed building at the College of Saint Benedict and St. John’s University, where she is now a student. “At St. John’s, the Abbey Church has a hexagonal pattern that is quite similar to the pattern on my dress,” she said. “So my dress was a combination of my love for flowers and a nod to my future.”
The contest winner spent four weeks on her dress, then helped her date construct his suit and shoes. “It was 12 hours of constant and crazy work,” O’Gara recalls. “I don’t recommend that. It was insane, so you definitely want to plan your time.” Noted.
All her hard work paid off. The scholarship money completely covered tuition for O’Gara’s first semester and even some of her second at the College of St. Benedict, a private liberal arts women’s college in St. Joseph, MN.
If you know any duct tape aficionados currently in high school, make sure to send them over to www.stuckatprom.com to enter the 2018 contest.