High school prom – my initial thoughts

There are signs that the high school prom season has begun. On my trip into the city centre this week, I bumped into several stressed mothers in shop changing rooms attempting to ‘help’ their teen daughters choose a dress.

I first had this experience three years ago when my eldest daughter attended her first prom. I was pretty naïve about the whole experience and we didn’t head out to select a dress until after she had taken her final GCSE exam. Foolishly, I assumed that exams were more important. How wrong I was! She was probably the last of her friends to choose a dress but thankfully we got lucky and she didn’t end up having to go in her jeans.

High school prom

With my second daughter, I am being a little more organised and giving myself four months head start but I’m beginning to worry that this may not be a good thing. If you are the last one to choose a dress you have the advantage of knowing what everyone else is wearing. Pictures shared on social media ahead of the big night should ensure that no-one turns up wearing the same dress and allows everyone to find out exactly what their friends will be wearing. They won’t be the only one to have chosen ‘long’ if everyone else is going for ‘short’ (unless they want to of course) or vice versa.

However, if you decide very early on, you are the trailblazer and everyone else may not conform to your trend. Four months allows plenty of time for several changes of heart and I’m not sure I have the patience for that! To be honest, I just wanted to buy it, hang it in the wardrobe where little sisters couldn’t get at it (and use it for dressing up) and then encourage total focus on the exams! Am I being too optimistic here?

The high school prom industry

The high school prom industry is going from strength to strength since it was first imported from the US. If you are the parent of a teen girl, and you are dealing with this for the first time, you may be interested to know that the dress may be just the start. You can also be faced with hairstyles, make up and fake tans and nails. Not forgetting the transport; it can feel more like a wedding than a high school party. It is a wonderful, fun experience for lots of teen girls. But not for everyone.

In all of the pre-prom hype it is important that it doesn’t turn into a competitive (and judgmental) frenzy. There are plenty of young women (and men) who choose not to attend them at all and that is fine. There are girls who feel more comfortable in trousers and flip flops and prefer a rucksack to a clutch bag. That is also fine. This is the perfect time for young women to celebrate their differences and find out what suits them. Good luck!


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  46 comments for “High school prom – my initial thoughts

  1. February 22, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I’m so glad I get to ‘practise’ on my boys before I have to go through this with my daughter! Boys are so different from girls, well my son certainly is! I know the date of the prom and he thinks he will be going in a jacket of his dad’s (too big) and a pair of school trousers (almost certainly ripped). I’ve told him he will be hiring a tux – and I will be paying for it, so there’s no arguments!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…Buying school shoes – Here we go again!My Profile

    • February 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

      I love your insights into life with teen boys Sarah! The differences in approach are amazing. I imagine that the prom will cost you less money than I will be paying, despite the hired tux, so at least you have that to be grateful for! xx

  2. February 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I’m quite glad I have 5 boys and only one girl. The boys have all worn the same suit so far!

  3. February 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm

    The high school prom is such a big thing these days, I think it’s youngsters have seen so much of it in the US and on TV that they are trying to recreate it here. I hope that your daughters had a brilliant prom night. Claire x #fortheloveofBLOG
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  4. February 25, 2017 at 9:09 am

    I don’t understand the whole “prom” thing but I have 14 years to learn!! They started doing proms in the uk the year I left school so I missed it thank the lord as I would of rocked up in jeans and my converse!!


  5. February 25, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I have all this to look forward too, though maybe when my two girls are old enough the prom trend will have moved on! #fortheloveofblog

  6. Louise
    February 25, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I had 2 proms, one at the end of senior school and another at the end of sixth form. I bought my dresses for both in the Christmas sales, so a good 6 or so months in advance and I didn’t go off of them at all! So far I only have a boy so I haven’t got to worry about dress shopping #fortheloveofBLOG

  7. February 25, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Oh where do I start?! People I know go mad for their prom, hundreds of pounds spent on dresses, limos, the works. I think this is completely and utterly crazy! For one night and they will NEVER be seen dead in that dress again. I bought my step daughter’s dress in a charity shop. I showed it to daughter 2 to wear for her first prom this year and she screwed her face up with disgust. Daughter 1 bought her own dress for her first prom and it all went off with minimal fuss and no intervention from me. This year I have two proms going on. I am steering well clear. I’ve bought their tickets and that will be it. It really isn’t my thing! I will admire and ‘like’ the photos of them all dressed up that will be spread over Facebook and Instagram though 🙂 Alison x #fortheloveofBLOG

  8. February 25, 2017 at 9:47 am

    My daughter’s six so I’ve got a few years to go yet but I remember my prom. I wasn’t particularly popular at school so didn’t really care what others were wearing, I just bought what I liked and I loved my dress. It was a lovely red knee length dress and it had a nice ‘swoosh’ to it. My group of friends all looked different and beautiful, and we had a lot of fun. #fortheloveofblog

  9. February 25, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Im not sure I like this whole prom thing! When I was at school we had a leavers disco and our got cancelled as someone set the fire alarm off on the last day!! Its all so showy and American and not to mention expensive. At least i have a few years before the drama of this!! Thanks for hosting #fortheloveofblog

  10. February 25, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I’ve just had a letter home about my sons first prom going into senior year, I just dont get it really as he’s so young. He is all giggly about it but it’s going to set me back a fair few pounds with all the bits. I’ll go with the flo and see what happens, after all I cant have him home and all his mates go, I’ll be the subject of many counselling sessions when he’s an adult if I do!:)


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  11. February 25, 2017 at 10:59 am

    We never had proms when I was at school so I’m a little naive to all of this. I have plenty of time to learn 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG
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  12. February 25, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Reading this makes me glad I’ve got boys. After teaching at an all girls school of I totally understand how important a prom is. Hope it goes well for your daughter and she chooses the ‘right’ dress #fortheloveofBLOG
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  13. February 25, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I had my school prom almost 7 years ago (7 years, where has that time gone?!)
    It was such a big deal – I think it’s so unfair on parents really, there’s so much pressure to have the right dress, accessories and makeup and therefore so much money ends up getting splashed out!
    I remember one ‘friend’ had a dress worth over £300 that was shipped over from the US that she’d had custom made.
    It’s a nice idea in practice – a nice glamorous event to get dressed up for. But it must be horrible for the girls you mention that don’t like getting dressed up at all.
    I’m not sure I entirely like it either, it’s all so much pressure.

  14. February 25, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    I’m really not sure how I feel about high school proms… I’m struggling to slow down the list of pros and cons racing around in my brain at the moment, and I just can’t decide which outweighs which in my head. Thankfully I’ve got about 13 years to think about it! #fortheloveofBLOG

  15. February 25, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    This is a long way off for me, but I am dreading this turmoil. I remember the stress I felt choosing what to wear for my sixth form leavers’ ball all those years ago. I was definitely a buck-the-trend kind of girl, and it will slightly pain me if my daughter wants to dress just like everybody else. I still really cared what people thought though, as all teenage girls do, and that’s what makes it so hard. #fortheloveofBLOG

  16. February 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I’m so glad that Proms weren’t a thing when I was at school. I really would not have wanted to go. At my sixth form we did have a formal ball but it wasn’t quite the ‘event’ that Proms are today. Hope your daughter finds a dress and doesn’t change her mind! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  17. February 25, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    I may be a bit bah-humbug here but I honestly think this is another American tradition we could do without. All that pressure and unnecessary expense that most people can’t afford.
    Good luck 🙂
    suzie recently posted…Picture books about PancakesMy Profile

  18. February 25, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    I have four girls. I live in fear of prom…and other things.

  19. February 25, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Oh god, reminded me of my 2 proms (high school AND 6th form!). The dress hunting really is a mission. Good luck! #fortheloveofBLOG

  20. February 25, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    My son’s prom was easy, A nice suit. I hate to imagine what my daughter would want, she’s bad enough if there is a school disco lol.

  21. February 25, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I didn’t go to my high school prom. I preferred to go out of town with my boyfriend. I don’t really regret not going. But I can see why it would be an exciting time for some. It’s just hard because these girls are so young and not fully comfortable with their bodies yet. This is when the competition to be the pretiest is felt most strongly. Then again, if handled correctly it might be a teachable moment. We’re not there yet. Peachy is only 14 months old. We have time. #fortheloveofBLOG

  22. February 25, 2017 at 7:25 pm

    Hmmmm. I really dislike US imports let me get that off my chest. This is something I am going to just have to get used to and get on with. I think it’s great to mark the passing of your school years, just hope I can avoid all the consumerism. And being Asian no need for a fake tan!

  23. February 25, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    I’ve got a few years to wait until my daughter is old enough for her prom and my son doesn’t get to have one as he is at an all boys school! I had a leavers dinner dance when I left school and I remember travelling up to London with friends to buy our dresses – I also remember using some fake tan to cover up some dodge tan lines and turning more and more orange as the night went on! This was 24 years ago so I can’t imagine what it’s like these days!

  24. February 25, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    More so than the prom dress is the after party fiasco. As I said to mine “you’re not winning a grammy! the party is the party, you don’t need an after party!” but off they went and I had to ring the parent hosting the sleep over to work out if they’d be there, serving alcohol or worse, be the fun mum dropping E’s with the kids….(she was there, and wasn’t the fun mum). I hate being the parent of teens! #FortheloveofBLOG

  25. February 25, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    I have to say this whole new ‘tradition’ leaves me a bit cold – I’m all for a ‘ball’ or a celebratory party like we had but this is like the wedding industry now – just another excuse for money to be extorted from people. Last year it was my niece’s turn and a ridiculous amount of money was spent on the night by my sister (who admits herself she doesn’t have a lot left at the end of the month anyway)….. Last week I also heard my form starting to talk about their dresses for the Y13 leavers do….. It is very distracting indeed! #fortheloveofBLOG xx P.S sorry to be ranty!

  26. February 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

    We had a school leaver’s boat party which we called a prom, not like a proper one but a good chance to buy a lovely evening gown, look good and have fun. Instead of having a prom date, I went with my girls and it was a great way to end our secondary school years. I think schools push the boat out a bit more now with UK proms than when I had mine but I like them. Not sure if I’m looking forward to my kids’ ones lol.. depends on who their prom date is haha! 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG

  27. February 26, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I know I’m a bit of a grinch but I dislike the whole prom thing. Then overpriced dresses, hair, make up etc…. Luckily I have 10 years before all this kicks in and hopefully they’ll have been phased out! #fortheloveofblog

  28. February 26, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Oh I dread this…I’ve even heard of proms for leaving primary School! It sounds never ending. I dreaded these events myself. I just hope I can teach my little one to be strong and not worry about the judgement and to be proud enough to go in her jeans, flip-flops and with a rucksack if that’s what she wants. Good luck this time round! #fortheloveofBLOG

  29. February 26, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Oh my word the fiasco that is the school prom! In all fairness I didn’t recognise my daughter once she had had a fake tan, makeover, blow dry and dress that was more than I had ever spent in my entire life on an item of clothing! She had fun though and it is a beautiful memory for them! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  30. February 26, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    From what I gather it’s like a practice run for being a bride! Choosing a dress, hair, make-up, nails, the car to arrive in…

    The list goes on!


  31. February 26, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    I had a prom which was probably one of the first years of it being a thing in the UK. It was so crap, my SIL’s little sister had hers last years and the extravagance was shocking. Some hired sportscars to turn up to school in compared to the usual limo that everyone chipped in for! its becoming something massive and im intruiged to see if it is around the time Ben turns 16! #fortheloveofBLOG

  32. February 26, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    My daughters are a way off proms but I imagine that they’ll enjoy getting all dressed up when the time comes. #fortheloveofBLOG

  33. February 26, 2017 at 9:00 pm

    Oh boy, I want to say I’m glad i’ve got boys but I bet they’ll be asking for a tux one day! eep! xx #fortheloveofblog
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  34. February 26, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    I’m hoping that in 12 years time there are no proms I am not sure I could deal with he drama. #fortheloveofblog

  35. February 27, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I remember mine vividly and it was 16 years ago now. Proms were still in their infancy when I had mine and I think it took a few years after that to resemble what it does now. I remember it being of huge importance, not just because you wanted to look your best but because many of us were going our separate ways with education and it wasn’t one last hurrah. I wasn’t a trailblazer but I knew what I wanted in a dress which I did eventually find. I still have the dress in the wardrobe and it still fits. If anything it looks better now I actually have a bit of shape to me. I hope you find this one a little easier x

  36. February 27, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Sharon it is so interesting reading this from a girl’s perspective. Our son has the obligatory end of school ball too and it is at a hotel in London, we have paid for the ticket and luckily he already has a DJ but the big debate is over whether to invite a girl or not. It is such an occasion and I think it is fabulous how they all get into the spirit of it. I also know from my own party recently that planning the dress is a big part of it whether you are 18 or 50! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  37. February 27, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    I remember our prom – I got my dress about 1 month before I think! #fortheloveofblog
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  38. February 27, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    It’s a minefield! I remember mine and it was’t called a prom it was a leaver’s party! My daughter is only little and I wonder how much it will change again by the time she is leaving school?
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  39. March 3, 2017 at 8:38 am

    It’s become so big nowadays hasn’t it? I hope there are girls (and boys) out there that DO celebrate their difference and do their own thing. Good luck with the dress shopping! #fortheloveofBLOG
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  40. March 3, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Ah my school just started doing these when I left 6th form and we went mental… hired a limo! It was fun! But i remember dress drama when I was miffed a friend got basically the same dress in a different colour. Ooof! I have a daughter now so I guess I have all this to come!! #FortheloveofBLOG

  41. March 11, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Hmm I had prom at school, but I’m not sure I like the idea much tbh! Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

  42. Nige
    March 11, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    My 3 oldest hAd proms the stress levels were mad but what an industry now fab post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  43. March 13, 2017 at 12:09 pm

    Popping back from #ThatFridayLinky
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  44. March 24, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    I never realized that there was an industry around proms. I thought that it was a tradition more than an economic entity. Thanks for writing!

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