Styles That Stick

How to Duck the problem of wear and tear on your party duds.

Somewhere, in a trailer far, far away, duct tape probably was used in a last-minute repair to a torn prom dress. Only recently, though, has the sticky fix-it-all for do-it-yourselfers been the prom dress.

Teens can celebrate their ingenuity (and trailer-trash dreams) by crafting creative duds out of Duck brand duct tape for Stuck at Prom, a national contest now in its second year. The two winners will each receive a $2,500 college scholarship, and manufacturer Manco Inc. in Avon will donate $2,500 to the couple's school.

Just as today's prom fashions have evolved, so has duct tape. It comes in more than 18 colors, including fluorescent yellow, lime green, pink, and camouflage. "Teens are always on top of trends," says Theresa Brixius, communications manager at Manco. "They're always looking for new [ways] to express their individuality."

Just ask Mitch Houseman, who, with date Sarah Silva, snagged last year's prize. Houseman, of Arroyo Grande, California, stepped out in a black tux, white and yellow ruffled shirt, and a yellow bow tie, while Silva's gown was yellow, with black ruffles and accents. All made from duct tape.

After 15 rolls of the stuff and 50 hours of assembly, the teens' prom fashions were a wrap . . . literally. "We were sweating a bit," Houseman recalls, noting that duct tape really isn't made to breathe.

But that didn't stop him from stepping onto the dance floor, where he and Silva stayed most of the night. "Duct tape is very strong," he says. "The more you work it, the softer it becomes. It becomes more bendable. It becomes like leather."

Houseman says this wasn't his first foray into duct tape attire: A friend made him an adhesive outfit for his birthday a few years ago. "Sarah saw me wearing it, and she swore she would never go out with me for that very reason," he says.

"And then she ended up going to prom with me wearing duct tape." Ah, a memory that sticks with you.