Are you ready for prom season? While high schoolers pick dresses and corsages and plan the proposal, they may be wholly unaware of the traditions behind prom.
Prom is, in fact, short for “promenade”, which in the late nineteenth century was a formal introduction to society. When at the time classes were usually held with only same-sex students, these co-ed parties offered an opportunity for young people to meet and celebrate their college graduation. By the 1940s these dances were happening at a younger and younger age, and they resembled pretty closely today’s celebrations.
Of course, prom has changed through the decades. Nevertheless, the idea behind it hasn’t varied much. According to sociologist Amy Best, the choosing of a prom dress involves careful planning as kids dive deep into societal norms around gender roles, economic status, and sexuality.
From showing just a bit more skin than would be acceptable to even attend with a date of the same sex, prom is an opportunity for teens to push boundaries and go against some societal norms. From puffy dresses from the fifties to the ruffles of the eighties and the slick sheaths of the 2000s, nowadays prom dresses look a bit different. Check out today’s infographic for everything you’ll ever need to know about the history of prom dresses.