enchanting outfits

Students examine changes in dress styles for annual prom

Prom is easily one of the most anticipated events of the American high school career. Students eagerly await the opportunity to dress up, make memories and dance the night away. For junior Mallorey Cheslock, a fashion connoisseur, along with the excitement of prom comes the task of selecting the perfect dress to make a statement.

Mallorey said she has noted many changes in prom dress fashions in recent years, and dresses are moving away from the glittered, sequined attire that is all-too-familiar to the prom world.

“(In recent years), I think prom dresses have transitioned from more ball gowns to more sleek, fitted dresses. I think people are also moving away from glitter, sequins and bright or neon colored dresses slowly,” Mallorey said. “This year had more tea party, garden dress-y types of dresses. We have seen classy and more simplistic dresses in previous years, but it is way more widespread now.”

Photo || Zoe Tu
Students dance to music and converse with each other at the annual prom on May 6, 2023. This year, the prom theme was based around a “night of enchantment.”

Mallorey said she thinks next year’s trends will consist of yet more preppy, simplistic styles.

“I think tea party dresses will become even more prominent and the floral-preppy dresses. I also can see white dresses coming into fashion a bit. I think that the white prom dresses would have seemed too much like wedding dresses in previous years, but the whole tea party style makes them a lot more casual,” Mallorey said. “I actually noticed a lot of people wearing white at prom this year.”

Mallorey’s sister Marissa Cheslock, a Fashion Design major at University of Cincinnati, said fashion trends recycle themselves throughout the years, especially with prom dresses.

“All fashion trends are cyclical. Five years ago, the trendiest prom dress was blinged out in sequins and jewels from head to toe. While that may not be the most popular choice in 2023, you never know when you might see those come back,” Marissa said. “I remember looking through my mom’s old scrapbooks from high school and seeing her and her friends’ school dance dresses from the late ‘80s to early ‘90s; I noticed a lot of similarities between those styles and silhouettes from 30-plus years ago to the dresses that are popular now. Of course there are modernized fabrics and trims and other details, but everything comes back around in the end.

Mallorey said she went a more untraditional route when looking for a dress.

“I didn’t want to go through the whole, ‘I love the dress, but not the color’ and vice versa when looking for a prom dress. I have an older sister in college who is majoring in fashion, and so I asked her to make my dress,” Mallorey said. “Having my dress made by my sister was honestly really nice. I was able to control every aspect of the dress from color and fabric to the thickness of the straps and the dress was made to my measurements.”

Marissa said making Mallorey’s dress was a pleasure and handmade prom dresses really stand out.

She said, “I love the idea of handmade prom dresses. I made my own in 2021, and also have made most of my outfits for other formal occasions. It always feels special to be wearing, or to see somebody else wearing, something that nobody else is, and that I had a part in making.”

Junior Kaiya Lustig, a fashion enthusiast, said she also acquired her dress through an unorthodox method.

“I bought my prom dresses secondhand, and they were vintage. I really like sleeves, and so both of my dresses have interesting sleeves, which I feel is less common,” Lustig said. “I think I’ve been seeing a lot more individualized style too, rather than just straight up trends. People wear what they like; people wear what they want to wear.”

Mallorey and Lustig are not alone. According to Insider, seeking alternate methods of acquiring prom dresses—such as handmaking and thrifting—is becoming a trend in adolescents. Because of this recirculating of older dresses and styles, there is a wider range of styles adorned by those attending prom this year. Whilst before, glitter and sequins ruled the universe of prom, there is much more variety now.

Mallorey said she appreciates the tiered dress trend that has resurfaced from the mid 1800s.

“I really like the tiered dresses that I’ve been seeing so much more of lately. I’ve seen a ton of tiered dresses with gathers, tulle and slits and I think they all look really good,” Mallorey said.

In contrast to Mallorey, Lustig said she is a fan of the floral patterns that have circled from the mid 1900s.

“My favorite trend is definitely the floral prom dresses, or just any pattern in general,” Lustig said. “Any dresses that have print on it, or just something actually going on, I’m into.”

Rather than following trends, Lustig said she prefers to stand out in a crowd, and follows an eclectic sense of style.

“If you want to stand out more, buying a second hand dress is really helpful. If you buy vintage, it’s unlikely you will end up with anyone with the same dress as you,” Lustig said. “But really, just wear what you want. Prom isn’t that deep, and it’s okay if you want to be different or follow trends.”