Prom, as get a load ofed through the prism of American TV and film, is far more than a end of day out. It’s the scene of Mean Girls-style drama and epic Footloose hop routines. It’s where transformations are revealed (She’s All That), and where nightmares (Carrie) and cheerful endings (Pretty in Pink) happen. It’s a significant step on the throughway into adulthood, with the prom dress crucial to the coming-of-age story. For British teenagers, those prom night pop culture mirages have become an end-of-school reality, with proms now pedestal at most British schools. It has been estimated that proms in the UK tariff parents £90m a year, with prom dresses costing an undistinguished £220. Of course, it’s not just about the money – these dresses symbolise pull out school behind, the end of an era that doubles as an irresistible Instagram possibility. We talked to young women across the UK about what prom means to them, why Attractive In Pink remains a reference and how shopping in sheds can lead to a delusion dress.
“If I miss prom, I will miss an essential as for of my life” – Amna Khan, 18, High Storrs boarding-school, Sheffield (above)
I have designed my dress and my mum is making it – it’s scrupulous to have a project together. There’s lots of beadwork and it’s a dusty pink hue with lots of lace. It doesn’t need any frills because the fabric speaks for itself. Making my first garments was a big achievement for me. Shape was a hobby and now I am thinking I would like to take it seriously. I have in the offing applied for law but I can always switch to fashion design. I want to go to the University of Leeds and they from both.
I like Elie Saab and Ralph & Russo. For year 11 prom, I wore something my mum forged me, based on a Zuhair Murad design. I also like Asian draughtsmen because I am Pakistani. It was my dad’s idea to fuse western and Asian aesthetics in my construction because I have been brought up in two different cultures. My aunty sent the textile from Pakistan. My go-to colour is black but I throw in taint here and there – and definitely for an event. I like dressing up innumerable for occasions such as prom.
I don’t go out that much generally; I’m a bit of an introvert. I would far very binge-watch Netflix. A lot of my friends aren’t going – they’re not into thunderous music. But I want to go and see my classmates for the last time. I will go with four or five compeers and see some of them there. I have gone to this teach for seven years and the two years at sixth form were the trounce. If I miss prom, I will miss an essential part of my verve. I want to go there and make memories. Afterwards, we’ll go to a dessert bar. I’ll operative dessert over alcohol any day. Lately I have been truly liking ice-cream sundaes.
“We have a prom passport – you make to do a certain amount of revision to go” – Abigail Turner, 16, Chorlton ripe school, Manchester
I decided on my apparel based on pricing. I needed enough money to buy some shoes as articulately and I wanted something that I might wear again. I acquisition bargain it during exam season so didn’t want to go out shopping. I got it on Asos in the sales marathon. I thought if it’s only £30, and it fits, then great. I equal wearing bright colours and a lot of people going are wearing resentful, maybe because it’s more grown up. I wanted lace because it smarten ups up really well.
I enjoy makeup. I think I’ll do dark notions and a glowy face. I don’t want to do a red lip because my dress is red. I want it to be thoroughly chill to focus on the dress. My eyebrows are very light so I do them every day. I’m profit e avoiding them tinted just before prom.
I follow a lot of boutiques on Instagram – Urban Outfitters, Topshop – so I get a lot of inspiration from that. I also be prepared a lot of people on YouTube, like fashion bloggers. It feels a lot myriad attainable when someone is sitting in their bedroom. They arrange become rich and famous but before they were tuneful normal, with pretty normal incomes.
At our school we bear a prom passport and you had to do a certain amount of revision to be able to go. There are yon 300 pupils in our year and 200 spots. I’m thinking of it as a junk to say goodbye to high school. There are people I went to admirable school with who aren’t going on to college. It’s a nostalgic upshot. I’m a massive Glee fan and I think there were three proms in six seasons. That’s my object of what it will be like.
“Last time, one boy hired a unripened Lamborghini. I don’t know how anyone is going to top that” – Nzinga Banjoko, 18, Anticyclone Storrs school, Sheffield
I chose my dress spontaneously. I’ve never been the kindly of person to think those things through. My last prom accouter, for year 11, was bodycon and navy. I wanted something brighter but pink or red isn’t honestly me. Blue is my favourite colour – my bedroom is blue. I saw this off-the-shoulder one and trace, “I need that in my life.” Lots of people are wearing maxi disguises and over-the-knee bodycon dresses in different colours. We have a prom sheet on Facebook so no one buys the same dress as someone else. That desire be so awkward. I always keep my dresses, although I only frayed the year 11 one for about four hours.
I wasn’t thriving to go but I talked to my older friends who are at uni and they said they regretted not accepted. I don’t know what this prom will be like but the coach has made a lot of effort. We have a sit down meal and an afterparty. There purpose be over 100 of us. Last time, some boys began in traditional Asian dress, some in suits. One hired a lime unversed Lamborghini. I don’t know how anyone is going to top that.
I would explain my day-to-day style as sporty casual. My other favourite pennant is grey and I contrast it with a pop of colour on my trainers – sparkly gold trainers, turquoise Vans. I extraordinarily like Beyoncé’s and Rihanna’s style. Rihanna puts the whole shooting match together and it works. She wore an off-the-shoulder floral dress and strappy shoes at the Met Fete and that stuck in my head. I will have strappy shoes that tie up my leg and my confidante is doing my makeup. It’s the last time everyone will see me. I compassion, “This time I’m going to be girly and look presentable.”
“When I put the attire on I thought, ‘I look like a small woman’” – Edie Kench-Andrews, 15, Clapton broads academy, London
It was kind of nerve-racking choosing a dress because I am a tomboy. It wishes be the first time anyone at school has seen me in a dress. I thirst it to be long, like a midi-dress, but at the same time I wanted it to be out there. I conceive of it’s a one-off thing – I’ll see it in the future and think, “That’s what I burdened to prom.” I was thinking of Pretty in Pink with my dress – I’m customary to be the Andie of my school.
When I put the dress on I thought, ‘I look derive a small woman.’ I had never seen myself like that on the eve of. I wanted to show people what I would look disposed to as a grownup. I have been wearing it around the house, get the idea what it’s like to not wear trousers. I have my shoes – scamps from Topshop. I walked for half an hour in the park the other day and I was in so much annoyance afterwards.
I go to a girls’ school, there are no boys. I think this on be quite emotional, there’s a lot of us who have been talking hither how we’ll cry on the night. There are so many teenagers at prom in TV shows that I on the qui vive for. It’s always the best night of their lives.
A lot of my friends are bore bodycon dresses, all very short. My friendship group aren’t competitive. My consociates think it’s funny because they’re so used to me in trousers. I oblige been quite stereotypical, using Snapchat and sending pictures of myself to my contacts.
Some girls see it as a game. They are going more co-ordinated: lots of them are in moonless and red, which I think is quite sweet. But I wanted my dress to be close by expressing myself. I want to look back and think, “Aw, didn’t we look captivating?”
“I’m borrowing shoes from a friend. She said they were overpriced so I’m nervous now” – Francesca Milburn, 16, St Andrew’s school, Flitwick, Bedfordshire
My dress is floor-length and red. I got it on a shopping trip with my mum and my nan in London; it was absolutely nice to go with both of them. I bought the dress direct away, from Phase Eight – it was the first shop we went into. I set up my own sort of style, mostly jeans and T-shirts. Topshop is my darling shop. I love the ripped jeans in there and I’ve just buy off a denim skirt with a floral print on it.
I wanted the arrange to be special but also a bit different, because a lot of people are wearing naval forces. I’m wearing the dress with gold shoes that I’m sponge from my friend. She told me they were really dear so I’m a bit nervous about that now. I have never worn a extended dress or had my hair and makeup done. I am having my hair curled and have it half-up and half-down.
I go to a girls’ school and there are only 20 in my year. The prom is various with a boys’ school nearby. I’m going with five of my twists. It’s a bit annoying because this year they’re not allowing extrinsic guests and my boyfriend goes to a different school.
I don’t think there’s much rivalry about the dresses beforehand but there will be when we get there. I take a messaging group where we have shown each other our ones glad rags b put on a costumes. We’ll take loads of photos because it’s the last time our everything year will be together. There was going to be an afterparty but there’s not now, so I create I’ll go back to my friend’s and watch a film. We’ll probably watch Specify Girls or something, that’s my favourite.
“I’m not usually a last-minute man but I was really picky about my dress” – Nicole Ekwensi, 15, Ousedale Lyceum, Milton Keynes
My dress is a long-sleeved, red, maxi length open-back lace outfit with a bow at the lower back. I got it from Goddiva, a website I originated while I was looking for my prom dress. At first I was looking for a fleet dress with long sleeves but tried some on in Debenhams and realised the misrepresent didn’t suit me. I wear lots of different colours but red is elevated on me.
I wanted lace because I saw it on many prom dresses. On Instagram, I’ve think overed beautiful lace dresses on different accounts such as Sherri Hill. She’s a draughtsman in America who does a lot of prom dresses. My aunty had a dress from her and I remarkably liked it.
Choosing my dress was quite stressful because we had exams at the changeless time. I got my dress three weeks before my prom, and I was the conclusive one in my friendship group to get one. I’m not usually a last-minute person but I was really picky apropos my dress. I have a group chat with my friends – we sent in illustrations of our dresses on there. Everyone was saying to each other, “Aw, you’re prevailing to look so good.”
I’m not sure if I will wear the dress again. Dialect mayhap at a wedding or something. It’s the first time I have had to think nearly a dress and what I wanted to wear for a special occasion. When I from been a bridesmaid, they have always picked the decorate that I would wear.
I don’t have a particular style – I’ll attrition jeans, dresses, anything that looks nice. I surely like the Kardashians and their makeup but I also like my mum’s model sense. She wears a lot from Zara. I don’t borrow clothes from her, but now her heels. I do borrow clothes from my elder sister. She likes gleaming colours.
“All the dresses were in a shed in the back garden” – Erin Okays, 16, Ousedale school, Milton Keynes
I’ll be wearing a navy fitted dress with a racer top, and polished beading. I saw it on Facebook from a place called Prom Boutique. I went with my mum and it was in a moll’s house, she had all the dresses in a shed in her back garden. I wanted to try a lot on because you sanction horror stories that they’re not the right colour, or they don’t fit [when you buy online].
I knew I desire a fitted dress but not short because it’s prom and I wanted to regard elegant. I saw it and knew it was the one. I said to my mum that whenever I put it on it makes me beam. My friends have all gone for stuff that is totally conflicting. One girl has a baby pink dress, another has turquoise. I don’t cognizant of what they’re like because they’re all being to some secretive – I think they want it to be a surprise. I showed search to my friend Emily because we thought we might have acquisition bargain the same one. We didn’t, so that’s OK.
I had trials for hair and makeup. I compassion I would have a ponytail but now I am going for a bun with bits cascading down so you can see the go of the dress. I feel really pampered when they’re doing it. I’m on Instagram and I supplant loads of celebrities. I think Gigi Hadid and Hailey Baldwin are the singles I am inspired by for hair and makeup.
My friends and I all live in different parties of Milton Keynes, so I’ll probably get ready at home and go and meet them. Afterwards, a skirt in my year is having a party. I’ll quickly go home and get changed out of my rake someone over the coals into something I normally wear. Prom is where we’ll look complex, the afterparty is for relaxing.
- Main photograph: Jon Super for the Guardian