The History of Prom. Prom dress history
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The History of Prom

Today we are going to reminisce a little about history of prom – the event of paramount importance for each and every high school student.

All major accomplishments call for a celebration of some sort, and the end of senior (and sometimes junior) year is definitely not an exception. It marks the finish line of a year-long arduous pursuit of knowledge and entails lifted curfews, breathtaking dances, afterparties and many other ways of having fun. Short for promenade or promotional dance prom is all about showing who’s who among students. Succeeding involves best date, victorious mood, fanciest ride and, of course, finest outfit. “Dress to impress!” There will be photos that, depending on one’s performance, will be a symbol of pride or regret for many years ahead.

Prom traces its roots back to the nineteenth century. Initially a college gathering held for a graduating class, the event worked its way to high schools. From in-house format to posh celebration in hotels and country clubs; from Sunday clothes to designer dresses; from ordinary to larger-than-life. By the 1920s and 1930s an unelaborate dance for seniors scales up into a banquet with party attire. Coverage in yearbooks since the 1930s and 1940s means greater focus on the dress code. The post-war economic development generates higher incomes, hence there is more room for extravagance. The evolution continues bringing new traditions, increasing competition and demanding more time, money and effort.

Modern proms are iconic, widely popularized in literature, movies and other media. Fashion and logistics wise some view them as a wedding rehearsal. Others may try to be (s)elected and become part of the court. There are so many opportunities! No wonder that today’s prom dress code often requires several months of careful planning and preparation. Every minute detail is vitally important and will be the key to either triumph or failure. The market quickly realized this and is offering endless options: rental, retail, wholesale, custom-tailored, you name it. Sources indicate that average prom expenses exceed USD 1,000 per family. Some students act smart, e.g. a group of girls can cost-share and buy wholesale prom dresses. Cost-effective solutions never hurt.

We’ll see what the future holds for us. It is very unlikely, however, that prom will lose its significance. After all, this is perhaps the most important event en route to adulthood. 

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