The Evolution of Prom Dresses The Evolution of Prom Dresses


The Evolution of Prom Dresses

Here at Review, there is nothing we love more than a classic prom dress.

The full pleated skirts and darling floral prints really get our hearts fluttering. For that reason, we could not think of anything more delightful then browsing through the sweeping silhouettes that graced disco dancefloors through the decades. If you’re with us… keep reading!

Where It All Began

Prom dresses were originally inspired by the more formal Debutante Ball where a young lady was introduced to society in a “promenade” dress, heralding the start of the social season in the hope of making the ever so important connection of marriage. If you have ever binged watched Pride & the Prejudice or even Bridgeton, you’ll get the picture! Nearly just important as pairing to an eligible bachelor was the jaw-dropping impact of the frock you arrived in. Each era brought new fashion trends and became more and more about the fancy frocks, leaving the introduction to society a part of the past.


The prom dresses during this era were on the modest side, falling all the way to floor length and always with sleeves to cover the shoulders. Due to war rations, finding extravagant fabrics for new dresses was a challenge (even Queen Elizabeth had to skimp on her wedding dress!), however prom goers still made the most of the occasion adding tight curls and a classic corsage to further dress up the look.


It was in the 1950’s that prom dresses popularity skyrocketed for high school seniors attending prom dances. Enter Dior’s iconic “new look” inspired gowns; bell shaped, draped and beautiful. The overarching fashion trend was “the fuller the better” with the appearance of tulle tea length skirts paired with waist cinching bodices. Some skirts could barely fit through a doorframe with their fabulous twirl-worthy skirts! It was very common for the addition of a shawl during the wintertime as well as chiffon sashes or flower brooches to add unique finishing touches.

Did you know?

The 1950’s prom dress era is what most inspires the Review designers when creating the modern-day prom dresses you see on Review racks today.

During the 1960’s the skirts became slimmer while hair volume became bigger!


The 60’s were often regarded “The Transitional Era” and prom dresses continued to feature soft pastel colours but in body-skimming sheath silhouettes to accentuate the female form. We thank the 60’s era for the addition of a belt to cinch in the waistline and add to the look. The 60’s also saw a shift in necklines to less modest designs such a scoop necks and spaghetti straps. Because of The Beatles, the ’mod’ style from Britain was rippling through the fashion trends and icons such as Twiggy revolutionised the mini baby doll dress.

The disco era brought the entrance of longer and more flowing gowns.


Think sheer materials, longer sleeves, off the shoulder necklines and long wavy hair styles (bonus points for flowers in the hair!). In the later 70’s, the epitome of 70’s style was channelling Studio 54 with sleek halter neck maxi dresses and your date wearing bell bottoms. We saw all kinds of geometrical prints make an entrance to the prom dance floor in a range of vivid colourways.

If we could sum up 80’s prom dresses in one word, it would be ‘ruffles’


Although ruffles were loved in decades previously, the 80’s took the admiration to new heights. There were no limits to the number of ruffles a dress could have as more volume was the key trend of the decade matched with crimped hair and kitten heels (picture Cyndi Lauper in the Girls Just Want to Have Fun music video). You’ve really got to adore the 80’s for really going for it! To match with the voluminous trend, we saw the return of tulle, statement puff sleeves and shoulder pads. Another key trend was to get matchy-matchy, especially with your prom date. A lot of pre-planning was involved to ensure your dates bow tie was the perfect match to the colour of your dress.

Today,prom dresses are the perfect option when looking to pull out your “Sunday Best” whether it’s for going to birthday parties, high teas or running your daily errands. In the Review world, the hero really is the twirl-worthy skirts, beautiful floral prints and waist cinching belts to match.