Primping for Prom: How Much Did Lindsay Lohan, Alyson Hannigan & Others Spend?

Ah, prom. The single most important thing to an 18 year-old American with an active libido and a pop culture saturation. Prom is built up to be one of the best memories a high school student will make. Unfortunately, like most of the best things in life, prom is far from free (take that, Luther Vandross). Of course, when it comes to movies, prom always seems a bit more feasible financially… mostly because movies have the convenience of “skipping over” the whole financial aspect of a story, in favor of the more exciting romantic aspects. Check out the list below of some of cinema’s greatest prom movies, complete with calculations about just how much these nights would cost in real life terms, and whether or not the characters could truly afford them.

10 Things I Hate About You


Character: Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger)

Expenses: Tuxedo + a guitar to make up for the whole “I’ve deceived you from the start” thing = $600

Funds: Dirty money courtesy of Joey Donner

Payoff: He tamed the shrew, and fell in love

Character: Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles)

Expenses: Dress + pearl necklace = $500

Funds: A father who, while dead-set against the idea of either of his daughters having fun, is secretly generous enough to buy her whatever she wants

Payoff: A brand new guitar… oh, also love, and a new lease on life

Character: Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Expenses: Tuxedo + an ice pack for his punched nose (also courtesy of Joey Donner) = $108

Funds: Never revealed

Payoff: A whelming end to all the burning, pining and perishing

American Pie


Character: Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs)

Expenses: Tuxedo = $100

Funds: Never revealed, although he does have some generous parents

Payoff: He fulfilled his pact, met his future wife, and began the next step

Character: Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan)

Expenses: Dress + band camp (which proved to be necessary preparation) = $650

Funds: A band camp counselor’s salary

Payoff: Met her future husband, which started her on a path to gradually losing that bizarre speech habit



Character: Carrie White (Sissy Spacek)

Expenses: Dress + and a whole lot of funeral arrangements = tens of thousands of dollars

Funds: Prayer

Payoff: The ability to start a fire



Character: Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon)

Expenses: Tuxedo + professional dance lessons (don’t be fooled into believing that people can just dance like that) = $200

Funds: Never revealed, but he might have won a few bucks betting on tractor chicken

Payoff: Bringing joy back to the American Midwest

The Girl Next Door


Character: Matthew Kidman (Emile Hirsch)

Expenses: Tuxedo + limo, camera crew, pornographic actresses, various other film production materials = Well over $1000

Funds: Retroactive profits from his highly successful line of sex education films

Payoff: He fell in love, got to go to Georgetown, and, most importantly, had something to write in the “I Will Always Remember” section of his yearbook

Mean Girls


Character: Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan)

Expenses: None; she didn’t even wear a dress — that tiara really jazzed up her math-lete jacket, though

Funds: Did that math competition victory come with any prize money?

Payoff: Instituting a new regime of kindness, acceptance and honesty throughout her high school

Never Been Kissed


Character: Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore)

Expenses: All the era-appropriate clothing and age-concealing makeup to make a twenty-something reporter look like a high school student = $300

Funds: A reporter’s salary… so there’s probably some debt

Payoff: Spoilers: she gets kissed

Pretty in Pink


Character: Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald)

Expenses: None — she made her dress herself

Funds: Just the loving support of her father to overcome feelings of social inferiority

Payoff: The kind of unmistakable ending the world just doesn’t get any more

She’s All That


Character: Zack Siler (Freddie Prinze Jr.)

Expenses: Tuxedo + a soccer ball = $125

Funds: Never revealed.

Payoff: Indecent exposure that probably landed him behind bars

Character: Laney Boggs (Rachael Leigh Cooke)

Expenses: Dress = $250

Funds: Art is a frugal career, right?

Payoff: The love of a boy who, even at the end of the movie, was kind of a jerk

Teen Witch


Character: Louise Miller (Robyn Lively)

Expenses: Dress + amulet polish = $275

Funds: When you have witchcraft, do you really need money?

Payoff: The valuable lesson that all the magic you need is in your heart

The above prices for tuxes and dresses were gathered from Men’s Wearhouse, Prom Girl, and the staff’s rampant high school nostalgia.


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