Prom is short for promenade. In the United States and Canada the word brings a lot of joy if one is young and a bout of nostalgia if one is not. In these two countries, prom means a formal dance held at the end of the high school academic year. The late nineteenth century practice of a ‘promenade ball’ and the custom of ‘graduation-ball’ have come together to give birth to this fascinating practice.
It is an event that students look forward to. It heralds the close of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. Youth is always exuberant at crossroad situations, perhaps because youth, itself, is at a crossroad of life. The unseen possibilities and the boundless ways that life can take shape make for a heady concoction that youth is specially equipped to handle. At the same time, it is the first time when students get treated as young adults.
The emotions attached with proms are forever. Consequently, it is only natural that boys and girls would be very particular about their dresses. Perhaps, because it is tradition. They have heard their parents talk about their experiences. Unknowingly, they prepare themselves for narrating their experiences to their children. Unconsciously, they also know that when they would look back and see themselves photographed in their prom dresses, they would laugh or cry or would do both.
The usual attire for a boy is a black dinner jacket and a bow tie. A brightly colored cummerbund is also seen, sometimes. Formal wear is the dress of the day as the young people experience the tremendous joy of being accepted as young adults for the first time. Tradition has it, that the girls buy the buttonholes for their male dates.
Girls wear formal dresses or gowns. It is tradition to wear corsages, gifted to them by their male dates of the day.
The Prom Dresses would depend a lot on the theme of the prom. The prom would see a lot of pastel suits if the theme is Miami Vice.
Sometimes, students plan for their proms, years before. The excitement about the outfits, too begin much before. Nowadays, with the advent of the internet, shopping for prom dresses has reached a new height.
Charitable Prom Organizations have become very popular, through out the length and breadth of America. The Glass Slipper Project is an organization that is very well known in Chicago. Similarly, New York has Operation Fairy Dust and San Francisco has the Princess Project. The Perfect Prom Project at the University of Illinois is another success story as far as charitable prom projects are concerned.