The history of the high school prom

Between hiring a limo and a first suit or finding the perfect dress, a huge amount of preparation and excitement goes into preparing for prom.

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Many of us are familiar with that frantic search to get everything perfect, but why do we put so much effort into prom night?

Debutante Balls

Many believe the history of the prom originated with the debutante balls of the 1900s, where young children of the aristocracy would attend a debutante cotillion ball to introduce them into society.

For young ladies, this event was intended to display her to eligible bachelors in the hopes of a good marriage. It’s no wonder there’s so much pressure to find the perfect prom dresses!

Queen Elizabeth II abolished the age-old tradition of debutante balls in 1958, but they were revived in the 2000s by the Duke of Somerset.

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The Rise of Prom

The rise of “teenage youth culture” in America in the 1950s saw proms grow in popularity as a way to express this youth culture and offered a chance for teenagers to enjoy their last few days of school before the freedom of the summer.

Coupled with a rise in wealth in America in the 1950s, a sort of glamour was brought to proms, with upgraded venues and more attention being lavished on achieving that perfect look.


When we think of prom, popular films and shows such as American Pie, Mean Girls, 90210 and Glee bring glamour and excitement to the prospect of the night.

The undeniable excitement of prom is no longer exclusive to the US, with countries around the world embracing some sort of party to send off students in style.


Although prom attendees would show up in their Sunday best in the past with no money to waste on a new outfit, these days, students will spend months looking for their perfect dress.

Thankfully, there’s a great range of celebrity-style prom dresses available at, so you can strut your stuff and finish off your year in style.


Students in 2019 excited for their prom night might be looking forward to the party, but they shouldn’t forget the first proms were intended to help students develop social skills and etiquette; no spiking the punch!


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