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A look back in the history of Prom fashion and forward to Prom 2024.

It's springtime! The days are getting longer and warmer. The end of the school year is around the corner. If you are a junior or senior in high school, that means it's time to get ready for the time-honored tradition of going to your school's promenade dance party!

The tradition of going to a high school prom has existed since before the 1950s; though styles have changed over the decades.

A quick history of prom fashion

Prom dress styles of the 1950s featured tea-length dresses with a tight bodice and tulle bottoms. Curly bob hairstyles inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and Ava Garder were popular, as was longer, wavy hair like Lauren Becall.

The 1960s style featured the empire waist and slimmer dress silhouettes. Though the gowns were slender, the iconic hairstyles were not. The puffy bouffant, beehive, and flip were all the rage.

In the 1970s, simpler gowns with eyelet lace and satin slip gowns were popular. Hairstyles were minimal, with long, either wavy or straight, feathered hair, curtain bangs, or blunt bangs.

Dresses and hair became fuller in the 1980s! We're talking big ruffles, 1950s-inspired tulle skirts, polka dot patterns, and gravity-defying big hair! Style icons were Madonna, Cher, Dolly Parton, and Cyndi Lauper.

In the 1990s, the style was minimalist and dramatic. The TV hit Beverly Hills 90210 inspired prom dresses and hairstyles, including off-the-shoulder dresses, tight bun hairstyles, and half-up styles.

The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a return to strappy dresses with curly updos. Later, the two-piece dresses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera wore became popular, with hair worn down.

A myriad of styles has inspired prom fashion of the early 21st century. The trend of individualism permitted style raging extremes, running from super sexy, skin-revealing short and long dresses to full princess dresses with fluffy tulle. Curly-updos and half-updos were still popular. The mid-2010s showcased gowns covered in beaded patterns, and who can forget the Faith Thigpen beaded jumpsuit of 2017?

In 2020, we saw a return to one-piece dresses, metallics, and animal and jumbo floral prints.

This year, the style is all about romance! Although some styles are similar to those in 2023, there is more focus on embellishments, full-length gowns covered in ruffles, big bows, beads, and sequins.

Click through gallery of prom hairdos by Andrea and Jenn.

Pro Hairstyle Tips: 

The romantic half-up, half-down with curls is a classic style that looks good on everyone. Braids are beautiful and romantic or go for a messy bun.

For a dramatic, fuller look, add some clip in or tape hair extensions. Learn more Hair extensions, what you need to know.

The least flattering styles are those with a "severe" look, like a slicked-back ponytail without any hair left out around your face or a flat style with a center part.

Remember to be comfortable in whatever dress and hairstyle you choose and have fun at your promenade dance party!


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