Prom used to be an opportunity to wear a Molly Ringwald-esque puffy peach confection or a tulle princess ball gown. Nowadays, according to various reports, prom dresses are looking less Cinderella and more Snooki, with the styles turning more and more revealing.
The popular site promgirl.com offers a selection of prom dresses with plunging necklines, substantial slits and midriff cut-outs. Other retailers like PromDressShop.com and Jovani also sell similar risqué formal wear, including backless and skintight dresses.
Why is prom all about showing skin? Buzzfeed’s Hillary Reinsberg’s piece on barely-there ensembles notes how many experts blame the skimpy prom dress trend on reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and celebrity revealing red-carpet dresses.
Catherine Moellering, prom trend tracker and executive vice president of ToBe Report, explainED to Buzzfeed: “This whole idea of the red-carpet obsession and getting dressed up is at the forefront of our culture. “The idea that [award show] coverage comes on TV three hours before the show even starts — that’s something new.”
(MORE: Couldn’t Afford to Send Your Kid to Prom?)
With the emphasis being as much on the dress as the party itself, many high schools are now implementing strict dress codes for prom. One school near Oklahoma City gave their students a 12-page packet of restrictions— complete with pictures of dress “dos and don’ts,” according to Fox4 Kansas City.
On the other side of the sartorial spectrum, Teen Vogue’s April 2012 prom issue recommends dressing in stylish, silky pajamas for prom, a look they say is inspired by fashion runways and fashion-forward celebrities like Alexa Chung. Showing up in a traditional (or skimpy) dress, is apparently, so passé.
So what can we make of all of us? Will half of high school girls show up to prom in satin slit-up-to-there dresses while the rest don silky pajamas and heels? Something tells me that most of teenage middle America won’t wear two-piece sleepwear sets to their high school dance.