Math teacher Carol Pitkewicz sees a common thread running through prom fashion over her decades at a Long Island high school. And she has that thread in her purse.

For years, the soon-to-retire Pitkewicz has brought a travel-sized sewing kit to the Bayport-Blue Point High School prom to fix any, well, wardrobe malfunctions.

"Sometimes the dresses are very fitted, and the ladies are dancing and having a good time, and all of a sudden, a button will pop," Pitkewicz, 62, told Newsday.

Sometimes, it's more than a button: Pitkewicz recalls a student's dress seam splitting, end to end, about a decade ago.

The student slipped the dress off in a restroom stall, and Pitkewicz sewed it back together with her tiny kit.

"She went back out there. It didn't come apart for the rest of the night," the teacher said.

Pitkewicz, who also serves as adviser to the school's student council, is retiring at the end of the year. After a 23-year-career in the Bayport-Blue Point School District, she's seen trends come and go at the prom, which students traditionally attend in their junior year. This year's was Friday.

Beyond varying hemlines and skirt shapes, there was an era when boys favored powder blue formalwear, a time when top hats were popular and a series of changes in shoes.

But Pitkewicz's advice to students is constant.

"Continue to work as hard as you work now," she says, and "always keep a smile on your face."

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Information from: Newsday, http://www.newsday.com