Fancy Dress: A price worth paying?

Jamie Archie, Opinions Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Before I had even seriously started my college search, my father had already begun recounting his favorite moments and memories at Washington and Lee. One event that consistently came up was Fancy Dress, and I’m sure the same has been said by many other alumni.

The 111th Fancy Dress is right around the corner, and with it marks a number of things. It acts as a gentle reminder that spring is indeed coming. In the heat of the class work, Fancy Dress is that beacon of hope; the semester is almost done, and with it comes spring term and ultimately summer. So why not have one big party before the craziness of finals?

But with it comes a price. Finding a date can be a tricky task that some do not want to deal with. It can add an extra level of stress to a dance that should ultimately be carefree.

Secondly, the price of renting a tux or buying a dress for the event is often high. Alvin Dennis is the go-to for many guys renting tuxes, but for girls there is no local equivalent.

And lastly, the cost of tickets, shirts and the other memorabilia can add up. The full package, which contains two tickets, two shirts, two cups, two shot glasses and two bottle openers comes at a price of $110. Yet it is still the best deal considering the items included. If you are not attending with a date, the half package – which includes one of everything listed – totals $60.

Many students may grumble at the price of this iconic W&L event — but for some, it’s downright unaffordable. Going forward, the Fancy Dress Committee should have meaningful conversations about how to increase access to this event for low-income students.

With all of this in mind, I still encourage everyone who is able to attend to do so. I think many might agree with me when I say that Fancy Dress is one of the best nights of the year. The price is an extra burden during an already stressful month, but the dance is too fun of an experience to pass up.

There’s something incredible about the fact that a majority of the school dresses up in tuxedos and long dresses to dance together for one night each year. On a campus that can occasionally feel separated or divided, Fancy Dress reminds us that we’re here for each other. It reminds us that this is a community that not only works hard together but also plays hard together.

To quote Kool & the Gang’s 1980 funk and disco hit song: Let’s all celebrate and have a good time!