This Saturday, in a sea of dresses and suits, senior Hunter Essex will be entering prom with an outfit that explores both sides. By going for something less traditional, Essex said he hopes to combat both masculine and feminine stereotypes.
For the last couple of months, Essex said he has been planning the different components that will go into this unique look. Although he said he’s set on gold heels and a mask, he has continued to play around with the colors and design.
“I’ve purchased a blue dress and I’d like to cut or alter the dress to become a high-low and throw a blazer over it,” Essex said. “But since not all fantasies come true, my backup is an onyx shirt tucked nicely into a black dress skirt.”
His friends and family have been supportive and offered ideas, but Essex said his main source of inspiration was friend and choreographer Coulson Bingham. Essex said Bingham is known for his statement outfits — whether that be a dress, pantsuit or tuxedo.
“He’s truly inspiring because he’s comfortable and confident enough with who he is as a person to wear what some men would never think of wearing,” Essex said.
This confidence is what Essex said he hopes to radiate through his prom look. However, with a busy schedule both in and out of school, he said it’s been difficult to complete the outfit due to factors such as time and money.
“I hardly get any me time between work, school, the musicals, auditions and family. Financially, I’m spending most of my paychecks on other things, so it’s been rough,” Essex said. “Sometimes, I think I won’t complete [the outfit] in time.”
Despite the difficulty in getting the look together, Essex said it will be worth it to inspire other students, especially those in the LGBT+ community, to feel confident in what they’re wearing.
“I want people to know that it doesn’t matter what gender the clothing item is, it’s about the ownership of the outfit,” Essex said.
Essex said he is excited to see the reactions he will get about his outfit, and he has learned a lot about himself in the process of creating it.
“For me as a person, I’ve grown,” Essex said. “I’m finally doing something I didn’t think I’d ever do.”