1950s Style Prom Dresses

Written by stephanie cai
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1950s Style Prom Dresses
It was important for a young woman to look feminine and romantic for prom. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Prom dresses from the 1950s accentuated a young woman's body by creating an hourglass shape. Each dress had a full circle skirt that swirled to the swinging music of the time and also allowed the girls to move freely. Girls could also have their prom skirts go down to the floor for a Cinderella feel. The dresses often had wide shoulders, a cinched waist and full hips. The colours were often bright with floral prints.

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Common Style

A true 1950s style prom dress often consisted of tiny waists and ballerina length (mid-calf) skirts. In this era, it was deemed wrong for women to dress "sexy" or inappropriately, but it was acceptable to have a young woman wear a tight-fitting gown that accentuated the bust and waist. It was important that the style be very feminine, romantic and soft. Fantasy dresses or ball gown dresses were also very popular. Inspired by Hollywood celebrities and films, a teenage girl could feel as if she were Cinderella in a full-length gown.

Harem Skirts

A large trend that was short-lived was the harem draping skirt. Also known as a bubble or balloon gown, it was elegant and different from traditional feminine silhouettes. However the dress design lost popularity when young women felt that it focused on their hips rather than their other features.


For prom dresses, many young women often opted for a sleeveless look. They usually preferred a sweetheart necklace line or a dress with a halter top. This again accentuated their femininity by highlighting their delicate necks. For those who wanted sleeves, cap sleeves were a popular choice. Puff sleeves were also popular.


Because of mass production, it was possible for ordinary young girls to have a fashionable and glamorous dress. Fabrics such as organza, taffeta, tulle and satin were all popular choices for prom dresses. These fabrics were often in exotic colours such as turquoise and tangerine, making the dress more unique. Girls appreciated these fabrics because they allowed the skirt of their dress to be more voluminous.

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