As winter formal is approaching, the search for a dress has proved to have endless options. After sorting through photos of every school dance I went to, I wanted to find a dress unique to the retired looks hanging in the outskirts of my closet. I went to my go-to store and after picking up a handful of potential options, I decided on the last dress I tried on. In excitement, I returned home to show my parents, but they reacted by asking where the rest of it was. I proceeded to go on a rampage and defended myself by reminding them that they were once a teenager. My mom then described her school dance dresses, which led my curiosity to get the best of me. I proceeded to researched what teenagers wore to school dances and how they have evolved, along with the culture of the dances. Here are my findings:
Beginning in the 1950s, tulle skirts were all the rage. Shoulders were revealed and the dresses dropped to mid-calf. Aqua, yellow, pink, and white were very popular color options for young ladies. When it came time to dance, moves such as the jitterbug, the bunny hop, the bop, jive, and the madison line dance were common. As for the music, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, and Billie Holiday made appearances. All of this took place in the school auditorium that sported streamers and balloons.
As for the ‘60s, waistlines grew higher, and the skirts slightly slimmed down. The dresses went from bright statement colors to pastel shades. Near the end of the 60s, heels became platform sandals, and dresses cut off above the knee. All in all, couples danced together rather than in groups and shimmied their way through the night. The Twist, Freddie, and loco-motion also took place on the dance floor. The mood of the dances was altogether calmer than the fast-paced feeling of the ‘50s.
Oh the disco era! The 1970s were filled with mini dresses and sleeves ranging from off the shoulder, to bell sleeves, topped off with gogo boots, clear heels, and sandals. While exploring photos that captured ‘70s dances, I found that there is the most variety of dress styles. This led me to seek professional help, so I called up my grandma. She told me that the best word to explain the dances was “groovy.” despite what dress you wore, all that mattered was that you could participate in the hustle, the YMCA, and so on.
Eventually, my research took me to the ‘80s. I found that the bigger the hair the better. Nothing was small, including the corsages. Sweetheart necklines and a-line dresses took storm. Furthermore, it was critical for your pumps to match your dress perfectly. My parents went to high school in the late 80s, so when I asked my mom about her dress, she had no kind words explaining it. I think that pretty much sums up the era’s fashion.
On to the 1990s. The dresses were minimalistic and spaghetti straps made way. Straight across necklines and halters became popular thanks to Hollywood. The dresses were very plain, and ranged in colors, but moved away from the metallics of the 80s. Hiphop music became extremely popular in the ‘90s, so dance moves were highly influenced by pop culture. So far out of all the decades, I have researched, the ‘90s fashion is most in tune with present-day fashion.
The early 2000s were filled with sparkles, florals, and bright colors. Two-piece dresses were introduced, and ruffles made a comeback. The dresses stopped right above the knee and were mainly fit and flare. In my opinion, the dresses from this era were the most hideous. Although the ‘80s were big and bold and known for being a low point in fashion, the dresses made a statement. Whereas, the 2000s fashion looked cheap, and did not leave a lasting impression. As for the dancing, it consisted of the cha-cha-slide and Stanky Legg.
Finally, we have made our way to the present day. In my search for a dress, I have seen that slip dresses with cowl necks and a slit are extremely common. The dresses are mainly short, skin-tight, and compared to the other decades, scandalous. School dances nowadays are filled with ‘moshing,’ and ‘grinding’. The music is loud, lasers are bright, and the many beat drops that send the students into a spiral. There is a lack of personal space and a small chance that you will come out of the dress with your hair remaining down due to excessive sweat. In fact, at Homecoming, I came home with my legs filled with bruises from getting pushed around and I lost my shoe a couple of times. All in all, fashion has evolved and gone in many different directions, therefore my parents had the right to question my dress of choice.