History of Prom Dresses: Evolution of Style through the Decades

The graduation dress has an interesting backstory. It's been through many changes, but it's still a hit, like wedding dresses. Have you ever wondered what mid-century graduation gowns looked like? Or why are vintage ones worth keeping? Milla designers have compiled a brief history of prom dresses through the decades just for you.

History of the High School Prom Dress

The prom dress history is fascinating and diverse. Let's examine the variables that shaped the evolution of textiles and fashion trends over time.

history of prom dresses


In the early 1950s, graduates wore shortened ball gowns with form-fitting bodices and a flared skirt that reached mid-calf. Girls picked pastel colors like soft blue, pink, or yellow during this time. Parents often had to get it professionally tailored to rock a fancy dress and stand out from the crowd of girls at the party. Sometimes, moms even took matters into their own hands and sewed their daughters' dresses.


In the 1960s, prom outfits went from those big, poofy skirts to a sleeker, straighter style, which was way more comfy. And while soft pastel colors stayed in vogue, waistlines increased, and these cute little bows were on them, keeping up with the prom dress fashion. And they'd pair those dresses with fancy hairstyles that showed off the neck and shoulders.


The '70s were all about those stunning floor-length evening gowns, taking inspiration from hippie vibes and the sexual revolution. Just think of the movie "Carrie," where the main character wears a glamorous outfit. They were really into using floral prints, giving off that cool boho vibe.


The history of prom dresses in the 80s was all about "bigger and brighter". Girls went for bold colors, echoing the Madonna. Dresses were voluminous, with extravagant details like oversized bows and ruffles. Hairstyles were teased, and makeup was bold with bright eyeshadows and lipstick. Hollywood glamour was a big influence on prom dress evolution.

prom dress fashion1990s:

At the beginning of the 1990s, prom dresses drew inspiration from the 1980s, featuring plenty of fullness and glossy metallic materials. The "sweetheart neckline" gained popularity not only for prom attire but also for evening wear. Dresses boasted fitted bodices and slightly dropped waistlines. 

Strapless short dresses were incredibly trendy, along with long ones featuring high slits and exposed backs. Completing the ensemble with stylish shawls and wraps was the perfect finishing touch.

prom dresses through the years2000s:

It's a special time when all trends and fashion styles mix. For prom, people try out bold designer choices and flashy outfits with sequins, beads, corsets, and big skirts that look like wedding dresses. Bright red is standing out.


In the 2010s, prom dresses got a retro vibe, with flared skirts and bold or neutral colors making a comeback. To see how prom dress styles changed over the years, just check out what the Hollywood stars were wearing. People were glued to celebrities' lives, and whatever they wore on the red carpet became all the rage. Fashionistas weren't shy about rocking daring styles like deep necklines, exposed midriffs and backs, thigh-high slits, sheer panels, and super-mini skirts.

What Dresses Are Trendy Now?

The evolution of prom dresses is about versatility, allowing you to find a dress that suits your color type, party plans, and body shape. The key is to highlight your natural beauty and youthful freshness.

Here are some prom dress styles recommended by couturiers in 2020:

  • Sheath.
  • A-line.
  • Cocktail.
  • Mermaid.
  • Asymmetrical cut.
  • Grecian style.
  • Thin straps.
  • Short and voluminous.
  • With intricate cutouts.
  • Off-the-shoulder.
  • With a long transparent skirt or transparent inserts.

Moreover, classic "prom" fabrics such as silk, tulle, chiffon, satin, lace, and crepe continue to be fashionable and have proven their worth in numerous prom dresses over the years. These materials wonderfully accentuate the youthful charm of graduates. Dresses can be adorned with embroidery, sequins, stones, prints, feathers, or fringe for added flair.

Where Can You Find the Most Beautiful Prom Dress Ever?

Nowadays, girls pay close attention to fashion trends and approach the selection of a prom dress almost as carefully as choosing a wedding gown. The stylists at Milla are here to help you perfect your look! Just be bold and don't hesitate to experiment. After all, the most important thing is to make your prom night unforgettable!

Our online store offers convenient shopping right from home. All available models and their descriptions are listed on the website. For your convenience, the online store managers can assist you in choosing a dress or tailoring the item to your size.

We also offer custom tailoring and free delivery in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, or anywhere else in the USA and worldwide.