High Schools across the country are preparing for prom season by instituting dress codes for prom night. The consensus seems to be that the administration does not want you showing up half naked, rocking a dress that shows more skin than it has fabric, or generally looking like any of your favorite celebrities.


The violations cited at schools include dress length, cleavage exposure, a “no-cutout” rule, and even “cosmetic contact lenses of a color not natural to a person, or patterned lenses (unless prescribed by a doctor).” The Wall Street Journal explains that the rules are aimed at young women because that is who is so eager to emulate celebrities and how they dress, and the stores are supporting them in doing so.

The trend toward revealing prom dresses comes straight from Hollywood, says Catherine Moellering, executive vice president of trend-spotting firm Tobe. Teen girls notice Jennifer Lopez’s skintight dress at the Academy Awards, the barely-there costumes on TV hit “Dancing With the Stars” and the Real Housewives’ revealing wardrobes.

Retailers notice, too, and meet demand by offering both ball gowns and sleeker styles. At retail chain David’s Bridal, a category called “Sexy,” including dresses with cutouts and low backs, is making up roughly 35% of prom dress sales so far this year, says Marissa Rubinetti, senior buyer for special-occasion dresses. 

Try to think back to your high school prom and how important it was for your dress and hair and makeup to be “just so.” While many of us kept it traditional because we had mothers who wouldn’t let us out of the house without what they deemed too much skin showing, and others of us had free reign to get a little racy, I certainly do not remember a category at David’s Bridal called “Sexy,” when I bought my junior prom dress there. I’m not convinced that it’s the Real Housewives who are influencing prom dress trends, but it does sound like some of this so-called formal wear could stand to be put in check.

What do you think? Did you wear a racy prom dress? Would you let your daughter wear one? 

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