For most high school students, prom is a right of passage into young adulthood and an occasion to remember for life. Regardless of how you felt about your prom, we all took part in this ritualistic experience. Whether you went with a group, went with a date or didn’t go at all, prom is a milestone we each experienced in some way, shape or form.
Although dances and prom-like events have been going on for centuries, it wasn’t until the economic boom of the 1950’s that the prom dress industry exploded. This was when girls started planning special shopping trips with their mothers and friends in search of “the dress” – an experience that still takes place today. The shopping, primping and planning is as important as the actual event and is all part of this defining moment in student’s high school years.
Prom is a moment most of us can recall. Do you remember what you wore? What about who you went with? When you think back on proms through the decades you likely think of the attire. Each generation has developed their own dress code. In the 1950’s, Grace Kelly’s black and white floor length gown from the Rear Window had a huge influence on dress styles. Dresses in this era had a fitted bodice with gathered voluminous full circle tulle skirts. The 1960’s had Jackie Kennedy who made ladylike chic look effortless. The pillbox hat and simple shift dresses were popular in pastel colors with small bows as accents. The 1970’s had Farrah Fawcet who created the first celebrity hairstyle with her famous feathered hair. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention John Travolta. The 70’s were greatly influenced by disco music and known for their bell bottomed pants, ruffled tuxedo shirts and crazy tuxedo colors such as the orange and baby blue ones worn on Dumb and Dumber. Many of the dresses from this time had empire waists with tighter fitting tops and looser bottoms. Gold lamé, velvet and lace were also a big trend in formal wear for women.
The 1980’s prom style had big sleeves, oversized shoulder pads, big hair and lots of ruffles – oh the tragedy that was fashion in the 1980’s. Madonna was the style icon of the time making fingerless gloves a popular prom accessory.
Princess Diana was the style icon of the 1990’s. Dress styles during this decade were often short, body-hugging mini-dresses made of spandex, velvet, lace and silk. Many of the prom trends from this time included off the shoulder dress styles, black was the reigning color and choker style necklaces were popular. If you went to prom in the early 90’s there’s a chance your date may even have sported a mullet.
Today’s prom resembled something off the red carpet. The girls donned gowns in styles ranging from form-fitting to A-line all in vibrant hues such as blue, turquoise and coral. Many of the dresses had cutouts along the sides and back and many more had jewel accents making it almost unnecessary to wear much if any jewelry.
Although, traditional men’s formal wear is black and white, the modern trend is for the guys to wear matching tuxedo accessories to match their date’s dress which is what many men wore to prom this year. Under their black suits or tuxes were complimenting shirts and vests in blue, turquoise and coral.
When you look at prom style today vs. latter years, there are a few things that have stayed the same. Corsages – it’s still customary for men to buy their dates a corsage matching her dress. Jewelry – costume jewelry is still the staple for prom so save what you wore as you could probably have your daughter wear it to her prom and it would be right in style. Shopping trips – the prom dresses worn today spared no expense and were done with their mothers and friends in tow.
Similar to prom, fashion is universal and unique to each individual.