You may remember prom as a cherished night of dancing, partying, and laughs. Others remember it as a night of embarassment or broken hearts. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle.
One thing I did enjoy was the clothing. Everyone looked their best at the dance, as the way it should be. I remember wearing a top hat and a cane, and driving there in my 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit.
Though I have to say, some people really over did it. I always hated the tradition of renting limousines, and I still do today. I also didn’t like the fact that some people thought they had to overspend to rent or buy a tuxedo. This “tradition” is just followed by every boy in school like their life depends on it.
Well, it actually doesn’t and you can wear whatever you like, as long it’s a formal dress. Here’s why.
Do You Have to Wear a Tux to Prom?
While it is considered traditional for men to wear a tuxedo for the prom, it’s by no means necessary. While in the 1930s and 40s people just wore party attire, the 50s brought in a lot of changes. The strict attire for prom was adopted during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s. This was to ensure conformity with gender norms and keep people sexually straight.
It became a ‘tradition’ for boys to wear a strict tuxedo and for girls to wear frocks or long dresses. A strict dress code was implemented. However, whether you consider this a sacred tradition you don’t really care; you don’t have to wear a tuxedo.
You can wear literally whatever you want, just as long as it’s formal. Some schools even have themed proms so that people can be more creative in what they want to wear.
Other Outfits You Can Wear to Prom
If you want to go formal, you can actually get a fitted suit to do the job well. You don’t need to break the bank here. Just get your dad’s old suit if you can and have it altered for you. Or you can go out and rent one if you want. Just make sure that you’re not overspending.
You can also try to mix and match different formal clothes you have. A blue coat with a black tie will look perfect. You can even mix and match different shirts.
Heck, you can wear a dark colored shirt and put on some suspenders with a plaid pair of pants.
If you ask me personally, I love going to formal events at times with a dark colored shirt. I match it with a dark blue tie and a pair of pencil pants. I can go either way with sneakers or formal shoes. However, always remember to go for oxford shoes. Don’t go for brogues.
Just make sure that you wear what you want to so that you’ll have a good time.
For some occasions and personalities, a more casual dress code is the best.
My personal favorite is wearing a white shirt with a dark blue blazer and matching pants. Then I top it all off with a pair of white sneakers. You can mix and match as you please.
I remember in my prom, one kid turned heads by completely going off the rails. He wore a plaid jacket with a white shirt and brown pants. He even wore dark blue sneakers. It may have seemed like an odd combination, but he pulled it off.
In the end, it’s all about your personal style.
Remember – it’s just prom! While it’s an important day in your life, it’s also a time when you can enjoy yourself and celebrate your high school years. Adhering to any specific dress code (unless it’s mandated by the school) can be super boring.
The History of Prom
Prom is short for Promenade, which means a formal parading of guests at an affair.
The tradition can trace back its roots to the lavish banquets and dances that were held for nobility. Further down the line, American Universities began to hold simple banquets for their graduating classes.
The first ever recorded instance of a prom was in 1894. It was held at Amherst College when the male students invited their female counterparts from Smith College for a dance. However, the entire event as a whole started to be considered a tradition in the 1930s. It gradually became an event for younger and younger audiences until it became the graduating dance of high school.
While usually held in gymnasiums, proms began to be held in more prestigious halls during World War II. The boost in the post war economy allowed luxurious banquet halls to be booked for the affair. The height of luxurious proms however, can be marked by two events in American history.
The first is when President John F. Kennedy crashed a California Prom. He had scheduled a $1000 a plate dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel the same night. However, it turned out that two years earlier, the students of the John Burroughs High School had also booked it. Being the gracious President that he was, he allowed the students to set up their prom in the large hall. He took the slightly smaller room for the dinner. He even stopped by the prom to say hello to the students.
The second event was much more prestigious in nature. President Gerald Ford allowed his daughter, Susan Ford, to hold her High School Prom inside the White House. This happened in 1975 and is often considered to be the most luxurious prom ever held.
It is due to this huge importance that is placed on prom that people feel the need to overspend. They feel the need to deck out their cars and dress up their children in fancy clothes. It is for this reason that the average prom costs an American student nearly $1000 every year.
While the figure dips and rises every year, Americans end up spending wads of cash every year to fit in.