Vintage prom fashion and movies

Vintage Prom Fashion and Movies!

Prom season is upon us and we thought we'd get a little nostalgic! These vintage pieces posted to Instagram are available for purchase through direct message.


 History of the Prom

An American high school prom (from "promenade" dance) is an event typically held at the end of the school year. Similar dances and balls take place in other parts of the world. Terms such as ‘Formal’ and ‘Debs’ (debutante ball) and others are used elsewhere. The practice is rooted in 18th and 19th century high society debutante balls where young women were “introduced” into society. In the UK, these balls began with Queen Charlotte’s Ball in 1780, an event held annually at Buckingham Palace up until 1958. 

Early proms going as far back as the late 19th century were seen as the first official adult social event for teens. In the early 20th century, a prom was a simple tea dance where high school students wore their Sunday best. In the 1920s, it had expanded into an annual banquet with dancing afterwards and where party clothes were worn. Yearbooks started covering proms in the 1930s and 40s. By the 1950s, they were becoming more elaborate as Americans experienced an economic boom. They could be held at High school gymnasiums, hotel ballrooms or country clubs. Competition blossomed as teens strove to have the best dress, to arrive in the best car, and have the best looking date! The designation of prom queen and king became an important distinction of popularity and the entire affair became the pinnacle event in a high school student’s social life, integral to the high school experience.  

Traditionally, boys dress in white or black formal attire, often tuxedos, and boutonnières on their lapels. Girls wear evening gowns and a corsage given by their date. 

The 50s cemented the iconic princess prom dress look of nipped-in waist, full skirt and sweetheart neckline. 

In the 60s, prom dresses embraced high necklines, empire waists and A-line silhouettes. 

In the 70s, V necklines, flowing skirts, puff sleeves or long sleeves took over. Halston’s disco look also made its way to the prom.

In 1975, American President Gerald Ford’s daughter Susan held her prom in the White House. She wore a peach jersey dress. 

The 80s embraced extravagance with metallic fabrics and maximalist ruffles. 

The importance continues to the present day with many movies and TV shows attesting to the fact and “promposals” becoming spectacles. The 90s produced many prom-centric films and the fashion reflected the minimalism of the decade. Think Kat Stratford’s spaghetti strap sleek blue slip dress. 


Pictured below are famous prom scenes from movies over the past 50 years. We noticed that 1999 was a big year for prom movies with at least 6 big movies coming out that year that all feature proms! 2004 also had a few! What’s your favourite prom dress from film? Or just your favourite prom movie?  


Carrie in Carrie (1976)

Sandy in Grease (1978)



Andie in Pretty in Pink (1986)

Lorraine in Back to the Future (1985) (set in 1950s)

Ariel in Footloose (1984) 


Kat and Bianca in 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Josie in Never Been Kissed (1999) (x2 proms)

Nicole in Drive Me Crazy (1999)

All the girls in The Virgin Suicides (1999) (set in 1970s)

Laney in She’s All That (1999)

Courtney in Jawbreaker (1999)



Bella in Twilight (2008)

Jennifer in Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Sam in A Cinderella Story (2004)

Summer in Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

Regina, Janis and Gretchen in Mean Girls (2004)


Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Christine “Lady Bird” in Ladybird (2017)

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