The Story Behind the Prom Dress

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History of the Prom Dress
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The Story Behind the Prom Dress
High school seniors cross a gymnasium floor in a double file line at their prom dance.
A young girl is showing off her prom dress to her parents in the living room. She is wearing a tiara, a chiffon dress, and a pair of high heels.
A young man escorts his date out of his car for the Prom. The young woman is seen wearing a pair of silk white gloves. 
A picture of the school gym decorated for prom with streamers hanging from the ceiling.
A young boy is helping his date with her white shawl over her shoulders. 
Singer Elvis Presley attends his girlfriend Dixie Locke's junior prom on May 6, 1955 in Memphis, TN. Elvis is wearing a white suit jacket with a black bow tie. 
The band "Classic IV" is performing at a "yuppie prom" in 1969. A yuppie prom was an event to poke fun at serious high school proms in the 60s.
A couple is getting ready to pose at their high school prom. The young woman is wearing a long yellow dress with a wrist corsage.
Not your average prom night, this iconic scene in the movie "Carrie" depicts the main character winning prom queen just before a terrible joke is played on her. The results are scary...
Two young women are photographed in feminine eyelet halter dress for prom with decorative flowers in their hair.
Stephanie Thomas, 18, puts the finishing touches on her hair in preparation for her senior prom. As you can see, the style in the 80's was big hair.
The cast of "All My Children" celebrate prom night during a shoot. The young woman played by Kim Delaney is wearing a strapless gown with her hair pushed away from her face with a headband.
Two young women talk outside their prom while other guests are waiting to enter. The dresses were traditionally full gowns with lots of tulle underneath.
Actors Scott Weinger and Candace Cameron of the famed show "Full House" pose for a photo from their "Prom Night" episode, in a sleek back tux and off-the-shoulder dress.
In a SNL spoof of prom, actor Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri are seen slow dancing during their "Always and Forever" prom. Cheri's over the top pink dress and Will's blue pastel tux are certainly cause for laughter.
In a candid moment, Chelsea Clinton, daughter of US President Bill Clinton attends a friend's pre-prom party at a private home in Maryland. Chelsea is seen wearing a black top with a floral floor length skirt.
Students at a high school in Denver are seen entering their prom. The young man is wearing a pair of white gloves and a cowboy hat while the young woman is wearing a form-fitting pink gown.
A tradition that started in the late 90's, the young women line up on the stairs while striking a pose for their parents.
American actress June Haver wears a printed, high-waist bikini in 1950. 
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In the hit TV show "The OC" two of its stars are seen sitting on the steps in silk gowns.
Marilyn Monroe lounges in a high-waisted bikini, a popular 1950s style that's starting to make it's way back into fashion. 
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In some area's of the country, prom is far more casual than it used to be. During the show "Pretty Little Liars" the two women are wearing unique casual dresses to the event.
Actress Debbie Reynolds models a pair of mid-rise briefs in 1960. 
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Actress Stella Stevens wears a bold, graphic print bikini. 
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British actress Jill Ireland models an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini in 1960.
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Actress Vera Miles wears a metallic style in 1960. 
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Priscilla Presley models a denim bikini during a photo shoot at her home in the 1970s. 
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Actress Raquel Welch models a more revealing style in 1968. 
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A good polka dot print never goes out of style. 
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Girls on vacation lounge by the pool in neon high-waisted bikinis, 1965. Aside from the hairstyles, doesn't look too much different than an image you might see today! 
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Marie Chantal Miller, future wife of Prince Pavlos of Greece, wears a color-blocked style in 1992. 
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The members of Destiny's Child pair their swimwear with denim in 2000. 
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A swimwear model tries on a white bikini in 1971. We love the lingerie inspired look! 
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Victoria's Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel in 2012. 
The best part of a bandeau style is no tan lines! Here it is in the 1970s. 
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n 1955, ruffles were all the rage. 
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The cast of Saved By the Bell hangs out by the beach in some seriously high-cut swimwear in 1992. 
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Kim Kardashian, the queen of bikini bodies, pairs a sarong with her black and white two-piece and oversize shades in 2012. 
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It's April, and that means the end of the school year is right around the corner. That also means it's almost time for prom. While you're choosing the perfect dress and shoes for the big day (or just remembering when you were doing so... like us!), you may be surprised that it hasn't always been such a huge deal for teens.

Prom is derived from the term "promenade" -- which was the presentation and display of guests at the beginning of a formal event. Though proms weren't mentioned in school yearbooks until the 1930's or 1940's, it is believed that they started in the late 1800's when universities held coed banquets for graduating students.

Prom has come a long way since then, and is now pretty much the defining moment in a young teen's life. Originally inspired by debutante balls, an invitation to an early prom would call for your "Sunday best," and girls rarely went out to buy something new. It was known as a "tea dance" and wasn't the elaborate event that it is today.

In the 1920's and 30's, the Great Depression caused a drop in attendance to proms and other events like it, and the apparel the high schoolers chose was more casual party clothes. An economic boom in the 1950's, however, caused a boom in the prom dress industry as well! This was when girls began going out on special shopping trips for the perfect dress and shoes, and wore elaborate ball gowns with full skirts. Schools could also afford to take prom to ballrooms and hotels, rather than simply the school gym.

Fun fact: In 1975, President Ford's daughter Susan held her senior prom at the greatest venue ever -- the White House!

The 1980's was the decade in which Prom truly exploded into the larger-than-life event it is today, and as Prom got more elaborate, so did the dresses. Girls searched for the most glamorous designer gowns they could get their hands on, as it was going to be one of the biggest night of their lives to date.

Today, Prom seems to be more about the individual. It is still a huge night for teens across the country, but more so than wearing a typical dress or even similar styles, girls wear all sorts of lengths, styles, and colors. In the past few years, this event has become such a glam occasion that families will spend between $1000-$2000 on the dress, shoes, limousine, dinner and more.

Click through the gallery above to see how the Prom Dress has evolved through the years!
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