The Stuck at Prom Contest 2023

For two teenagers every year, a few rolls of duct tape could be a ticket to winning $10,000.


‘Stuck at Prom’ is an outlet for creativity and resourcefulness for crafty teenagers. Photo Credit: Sticker Mule / Unsplash

To most people, duct tape is a tool that holds things together For many others however, it means so much more. Duct tape can mean an entire world of creativity.

In the 2000s-2010s, teenagers and small businesses alike began using duct tape as a medium for making accessories. When I was a kid, I remember watching my cousin create intricate designs of things from wallets to entire tote bags, out of nothing but ordinary duct tape. I tried to replicate her work starting with a simple wallet made of plain gray duct tape, but failed miserably. I quickly found that the process of crafting her seemingly effortless creation was not as easy as it seemed. 

Accessories and other trinkets made of duct tape are impressive in themselves, but each year, teenagers who enter the ‘Stuck at Prom‘ contest take it even further. 

Stuck at Prom began in 2001 and has since been an annual competition that takes place around prom season. The competition is held by the popular duct tape brand, “Duck.” The competition has two categories: prom dresses and prom suits. Teenagers across Canada and the United States between the ages of 14-17 can submit their designs to the competition for a chance to win a scholarship worth $10,000 dollars. The catch: their designs must be made fully of duct tape.

The rules of the competition are simple. Create, and wear, an original prom outfit out of duct tape. Stuck at Prom accepts submissions from March 29th to June 7th. Competitors must submit photos of them wearing their design, and state how many rolls of duct tape they used and how many hours it took them to make it. They also must include a blurb with their photos that describes their goal and inspiration when designing their outfits. Creating a formal outfit completely out of duct tape may seem like an impossible feat to most, but every year, the competitors find a way to make beautiful creations. Finalists are decided by a panel of judges. Their submissions are judged with equal consideration of: workmanship, originality, use of colors, accessories, and of course, use of duct tape. The judges choose five finalists for the dress category, and five for the tux category. Once finalists are announced, the rest is up to the public, who vote on one winner for each category. Voters give their email to the competition to register themselves to vote, and can cast one vote for their favorite dress, and one vote for their favorite tux. The grand dress prize, and grand tux prize winners each receive the $10,000 dollar scholarship, while runners-up receive a $500 scholarship. 

Past Winners and Runners-Up

All of the past winners and runners-up can be found here.

Grace Vaughn impressed the Stuck at Prom judges and won the most recent competition in 2022. Her dress took a total of 143 hours and 45 rolls of black and white duct tape. She took inspiration from the design and meaning behind the Yin Yang to create her beautiful half-white half-black fully duct-taped dress. Not only did her dress find a place in the judge’s hearts, but the hearts of people on social media as well. In 2022, she posted her design on her TikTok page and it went viral. Her video received over a million likes and thousands of comments praising her incredible work. Upon seeing her video, I was amazed, and dived into the world of Stuck at Prom. Her video helped introduce me, as well as millions of others, to the competition. 

For many, the competition represented not just a platform to express themselves creatively, but also express their culture, passions, and struggles. Through rolls of duct tape, these competitors find meaning, and an outlet to create. 

Elise V., a runner-up in the 2022 competition, created a beautiful duct tape kimono with her Japanese and Mexican heritage in mind. Growing up, she was able to connect with her Mexican heritage and family, but wasn’t able to do the same with her Japanese heritage. Through 18 rolls of duct tape and 140 hours of work, she was able to explore her Japanese roots. In keeping with tradition, she created a kimono with symbols that hold meaning to her on it. 

Larissa L. was the grand dress prize winner in 2021. Her dress modeled a Folkorico style, which is a traditional Spanish dress. 

The gown was designed to honor my culture, helping me pay homage to my roots, along with making a beautiful dress for prom that’s made out of Duct Tape, something that many of my friends and family thought to be impossible,” Larissa said in her blurb. 

Chidinma O., the winner of the tux category in the 2022 competition, grew up a tomboy. When designing her tux, she wanted to push herself. Her choice to make a tux rather than a dress played to her tomboy preferences, while her decision to make it pink pushed her boundaries. She wanted to create a tux that represented the beauty of both masculinity and femininity in fashion.

I wanted to show the beauty of masculinity and femininity when they are put together,” she said in her bio. 

‘The Stuck at Prom’ competition was the perfect place for Chidinma to put herself up to this challenge. 

In the 2022 competition, Avalon. H, and Mady. B, both took inspiration from their struggles with anxiety when creating their dresses. Avalon’s dress was designed with careful thought towards color choice to reflect the different parts of anxiety that affect her life. Mady’s dress used flowers to represent her habit of spending time in nature to cope with anxiety. 

Colten N., used his suit – adorned with duct tape grass and mushrooms – to bring awareness to environmental conservation  and agriculture. 

“My outfit was a manifestation of hope that humanity can become closer with the environment and our food sources to insure that we sustain such a large predicted population,” he said. 

Elizabeth D. has had a lifelong passion of creating with duct tape. She grew up using duct tape as an artistic medium, creating new pieces throughout her childhood. She collected hundreds of different rolls of duct tape, and used them in her dress design. She always dreamed of coming to prom in a dress designed of duct tape, but her battles with her health prevented her from doing so. ‘Stuck at Prom’ provided her with the perfect opportunity to design the dress she’d dreamed of. 

Submissions for the 2023 competition are completed, as teenagers across the continent, for the 23rd year in a row, hope to impress the judges and public. The winner, who will be announced soon, could be anyone with a few rolls of duct tape, dedication, and a dream. 

Duct tape can mean an entire world of creativity.