Cardboard Prom Dress Is Just The Right Fit For This Young Woman

Apr 24, 2012
Originally published on May 23, 2012 10:51 am

Why did Missouri teen Maura Pozek make her prom dress out of cardboard and paper bags?

Because after fashioning the previous two years' outfits out of Doritos bags and soda can tabs, "I had to top myself somehow."

Seventeen-year-old Pozek, a high school senior from Reeds Spring (just northwest of Branson), told NPR's Melissa Block this afternoon that it took "lots of hot glue" and some late-night last-minute alterations to make the dress work. Her original idea to construct it all of corrugated cardboard wasn't going well. With just hours to go, she made the skirt from paper bags. The top remained cardboard. All of it was painted.

"The only casualty" from prom night was when the left shoulder curled up — she just ripped it off and that was that. "The skirt got crumpled a lot from sitting in the limo," Maura added.

If things hadn't gone well, she had a backup plan: "Duct tape and an extra dress." Her date went traditional, except for the cardboard boutonniere she made for him.

Last year's dress — made from about 4,000 "pop tabs," as Maura said — was probably the most comfortable of her outfits.

So now what? Well, she's graduating and heading to University of Missouri, Kansas City. And though she once imagined going into fashion design, she's now thinking about elementary education.

We predict some fun art projects for her future students.

To see and hear more from Maura, check out this video report from KY3-TV in Springfield, Mo.

Much more from her conversation with Melissa is due on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we'll add the as-broadcast version of the interview to the top of this post.

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A 17-year-old girl's prom dress caught our eye today. Maura Pozek's gown features a corset top. It's a layered collage of blues and purples. The skirt cascades down in three tiers of pleats. But Maura's dress is not quite like any other prom dress we've seen. Maura has ducked briefly out of class in Reed Spring, Missouri, to tell us about it. And Maura, what is your dress made of?

MAURA POZEK: My dress is made out of cardboard.

BLOCK: Cardboard. Any particular kind of cardboard?

POZEK: The top is made out of corrugated cardboard, and then the bottom is paper bags.

BLOCK: Okay. And somehow, you stitched that together. How'd you do that?

POZEK: Lots of hot glue and wood glue.

BLOCK: Oh, it's glue, not stitching.

POZEK: No, it's hard to stitch cardboard. It likes to rip then.

BLOCK: Yeah, I would think. Well, what inspired you to make a prom dress out of cardboard in the first place?

POZEK: Well, the previous two years I had made a dress out of Doritos bags and pop tabs, and I had to top myself somehow.

BLOCK: Those were two different dresses, we should say.


BLOCK: The Doritos dress bag was the first, right?


BLOCK: And then how many pop tabs went into the pop tab dress?

POZEK: It took about 4,000 pop tabs.

BLOCK: And they both look amazing...

POZEK: Thank you.

BLOCK: ...but may be not so comfortable. I'm not sure about those pop tabs.

POZEK: They were actually really comfortable.

BLOCK: Yeah?

POZEK: Yeah. It was surprising.

BLOCK: OK, so this year it was cardboard. And how did it stand up to a night of dancing, first of all?

POZEK: Well, the dress itself, the only casualty is that the left shoulder came up like the second I walked into prom. And after I ripped that off, that was fine.


POZEK: And the skirt got crumpled a lot from sitting in the limo.

BLOCK: Yeah. You just ripped the shoulder off your dress. You figured, well, it's gone - I'll just rip it off.

POZEK: Yep, I kind of left it at prom. I don't really know where it is.

BLOCK: Huh, but you could sit in it.


BLOCK: 'Cause it does look like it would be a little stiff.

POZEK: At first it was. But it took a lot of - I'm going to sit now and you're going to do what I told you to.

BLOCK: The dress?


BLOCK: And it behaved?

POZEK: Surprisingly.

BLOCK: I would think that to avoid a wardrobe malfunction with a dress like this, you would want to test it out pretty carefully at home.

POZEK: I would've if I didn't finish the dress the day of prom.

BLOCK: Oh, wow.

POZEK: Yeah.

BLOCK: So you couldn't give it a trial run.

POZEK: Not really. It was - I'll bring duct tape and an extra dress and hope it all works out.


BLOCK: You had a dress on standby?

POZEK: Yes, I've had to do that all three years - just in case.


BLOCK: Well, what do you do with the dresses when you're done?

POZEK: Currently they're just hanging up in my closet. And the cardboard one is on my kitchen table.

BLOCK: Just as a display?

POZEK: Exactly.

BLOCK: Are you clever in all kinds of ways, Maura?

POZEK: That's what they tell me.


BLOCK: They do? You like art.

POZEK: Yes. My mom has been an artist my entire life, so I've kind of jumped into that.

BLOCK: And do you sew?

POZEK: I sew a lot, actually. For a while, I was going to major in fashion design, hoping I could sew that well.

BLOCK: When it came time to think about what your date would be wearing to the prom, did you try to coordinate in any way or was he on his own?

POZEK: Not really, he was kind of just on his own. We were like, just wear whatever - anything matches purples and blues and cardboard.


POZEK: But we did make him a boutonniere.

BLOCK: Out of?

POZEK: Out of cardboard.

BLOCK: Out of cardboard, of course. This was your senior prom, Maura. Where are you headed next year?

POZEK: Next year I'm going to go to UMKC and hopefully major in elementary education.

BLOCK: That's the University of Missouri, Kansas City?


BLOCK: So no design in your future, you don't think?

POZEK: No. College ended up being too expensive.

BLOCK: Uh-huh. But you can keep coming up with ideas all the time. Why not?

POZEK: Yeah, of course.

BLOCK: Well, Maura Pozek, thanks so much for talking to us about your cardboard prom dress.

POZEK: Thank you.

BLOCK: Maura Pozek in Reed Spring, Missouri and her cardboard prom dress is now on display at

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "AND THEN HE KISSED ME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.