Prom Fashion through the Decades

Prom Fashion through the Decades

Samantha George

Big, fluffy, sleek, or sparky, prom dresses have come in all shapes and sizes. Just like fashion trends today, the type of prom dress and tuxedos has changed to fit the times. 

    Since prom was supposed to emulate debutante balls of high society, early prom fashions were often grand. However, as the Depression hit in the 1930s, the dresses became simpler. Because of the wartime fabric rations, 1940’s prom dresses often had a slim silhouette to save material. This also contributed to the dress being much more modest than previous decades. Also thanks to the war, many guys would often show up in uniform to prom.

   The 1950s is really when prom fashion starts to take off. Thanks to the post-war economic boom, people had much more cash to blow on big poofy, decked-out dresses. You could find everything from tea-length skirts to full-blown ballgowns, both of which usually had lots of tulle and ruffles. The growing economy also meant prom could move from high school gyms to places like country clubs and hotels.

    Prom Dresses in the 1960s — in keeping with the cultural shift took on a more casual tone. Dresses were almost always just below the knee, even sometimes going above it. There also started to be a shift from the innocent pastel colors of the earlier decades into more bright and bold ones. In typical 60’s fashion, no prom dress was complete without a beehive hairstyle piled on top of every girl’s head.

   In the 1970s, the hemline of skirts dropped back to maxi length but the dresses were reminiscent of hippie and disco styles, with flowers, loose hair, and flowing skirts. The guy’s tuxedos also started to make a transition from the typical tux to much more colorful ones. The disco influence really started to increase in the ’80s which as everyone knows, was colorful, loud, and complete with lots of hair. Poofy sleeves, shoulder pads, metallic details, and large, large ruffles all made the 80’s prom what it was. This also marked the start in popularity of taking a limousine to prom.

1990’s prom fashion showed a gradual transition back to simple designs. Thinner silhouettes were favored over ball gown types. Necklines like spaghetti straps and halter tops were a common sight at a high school prom. These trends continued into the 2000s. Dresses from this time period would often come in material like satin. 

  To wrap it up, 2010 fashion seems to keep the long silhouettes of the ‘90s and 2000s but usually had heavy beading. This decade in prom fashion also features highschoolers showing off vintage dresses, something not really done in previous decades. 

As 2022’s prom rolls around, who knows what we will be seeing at high school proms? Whether ruffled, slender, poofy, or glittery, the experience is what counts.