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You may have noticed a sharp spike in the number of limo-riding, formally-dressed high school kids in your locale a while back. But not all of them are wearing expensive custom dresses or rented tuxedos. The once-original idea of fashioning prom wear from duct tape has taken off — with the help of the Duck brand.

(A quick moment’s rant: While I can’t deny the marketing genius of naming one’s tape business after the most common mispronunciation of “duct,” I do get a little riled every time I see it. It was bad enough when folks called it “duck tape” because they didn’t understand its original application. For years now they can also head down to the local big box and buy some by that name. Doh!)

That’s right. It used to be cool to make a wallet out of duct tape. Then someone went and made a whole outfit out of it. Duck created a contest encouraging students to deck themselves out in tape for Prom. The prizes? A cool $5,000 for first place, $3k for second, $2k for third, and $500 each for seven “runners up.” They offered the same prize to each school that hosts the winning couples, which we imagine helped to smooth the way in a prom environment that’s not very tape-friendly. They call the whole thing “Stuck at Prom.”

Before you laugh it up, check out some of their outfits. Seriously, we’re not talking bulky, gray garbage bags. These are some seriously cool getups. Some of my faves: Amber and Laven’s “Gothic/Victorian style” outfits, Lander and Hannah’s electroluminescent wire-laced dress and suit in black, and Nicholas and Sara’s traditional prom cocktail dress and jacket.

One school in Swainsboro, GA, has even made the whole thing a yearly event, encouraging all students to take part in the process.

Anyway, when I saw the coverage of this on CNN recently, it reminded me of all the cool, creative things Toolmongers do regularly, applying their knowledge and supply of tools to have a good time and make life a little better.

Gallery: A Duct Tape Prom [CNN]
Stuck at Prom [Duck Brand]

(Photo: CNN/Swainsboro High School)


13 Responses to Prom Wear For Toolmongers

  1. It has been my understanding, for the past few years, that ‘duck’ tape is the correct pronounciation. Ducking is the type of fabric infused in the tape, giving the tape the proper name of ‘duck’ tape.

    Am I wrong?

  2. Joe says:

    They sell sheets of the stuff now, not only rolls, and they have all sorts of colors, oddly enough I see them in office supply stores now.
    Awesome outfits though.

    Besides, as has been discussed many times, “duct” tape is for anything BUT ducts, so I don’t really care if its common name becomes duck tape or Macgyver tape (he ALWAYS had a roll of the stuff).

  3. C Mack says:

    I remember a Mythbusters episode where they explain duck tape’s origin, during their first duct tape episode. They claimed that our military is to be credited for the invention of “duck tape” and it was given this name because of the water resistant qualities it had when Joe’s would tape up their ammo boxes to keep dry.

    I know that when I run out of duct tape it is a problem and I keep the stuff in three or more places including my home, my auto, and at work. I have never been decorative or crafted with duct tape, but it has proved itself time and again to be the keystone in my toolbox for “southern engineering”!

  4. Simon says:

    I like duct tape like I like peg board! (Not a bit…)

  5. paganjoe says:

    Duct/Duck tape is one of the most universally useful tools ever invented! How many tools can legitimately be used for so many applications? I’m leaving out the kludge uses and still it is rivaled by very few tools for versatility (the brain would be another example.

  6. Mike says:

    According to Duck brand’s web site, “duck” was the original nickname: http://duckbrand.com/Duck%20Tape%20Club/history-of-duck-tape.aspx

  7. Jesse T says:

    The most interesting thing I ever did with duct tape is use it to keep a tweety bird doll on the front bumper of my beater honda Accord. It stayed there for probably five years in all weather, including a road trip from Northern California to San Antonio TX. Finally started to come loose on the drive back from TX, at which point tweety move to living in the rear window.

  8. kyle says:

    I once overheard a girl tell her friend that “it is called duck tape because it quacks when you peel it off the roll.”

  9. DoItRite says:

    A quick FYI:
    The only type of duct tape that is approved by code for use on any of the various types of ductwork are ones listed with a UL-181 designation printed on the face of the tape every 6 inches or so. These have been shown to withstand the acceptable level of stick, time and whatever elements that it may be subject to. Maybe just a good reason to charge more too!

  10. Jerry says:

    The best thing about this tape – call it “duck” or “duct” – is the versatility of the product.
    Origins? I believe it was Johnson/Johnson who created it. Very similar to their medical tape and originally a lovely army green color. After the war, the color was changed to silver to more closely match the current use – duct sealing.
    Though I still use “duck/duct” tape for many things, I now prefer the very sticky “gorilla tape.”
    The downside of these tapes? I see too many people use the tape where a real repair should be done. All too often, a proper repair would be just as quick but too many folks have come to depend on the tape and think it is a “real repair.”

  11. Bajajoaquin says:

    The only two things you really need are duct tape and WD-40:

    If it moves, and it shouldn’t, use duct tape
    If it doesn’t move, and it should, use WD-40

  12. Simon says:

    Something to consider – The VAST MAJORITY of commonly available “Duct Tape” is crap – thin, gooey, poor strength etc. If you get some of the really good stuff it is pretty OK for everything but ducts but you will pay a lot more for it.

    (I know way too much about Duct Tape since I was paid to use it for 15 seasons and still avoid it for serious use)

  13. whitcwa says:

    Gaffer tape is a much higher quality tape. It is cloth with a very aggressive adhesive. Just don’t use it for anything long term because the adhesive dries out over time (over 1 year).

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