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Prom: Then vs. Now

From dress designs to theme trends, it is obvious that prom changes annually. Not only has prom changed from last year to this year, but prom has changed throughout the decades. From the time that Woodland’s teachers and staff attended their very own proms to now, the idea of prom has adapted. Let’s take a look at how teachers and staff members remember their prom night and how this perfect night has aged over time. 

Going back to the late 1980s and early 1990s there were many timeless trends that teachers and staff find memorable. Woodland librarian, Jodie D’Alexander, recalls her 1989 Derby High School prom night at Septembers in Woodbridge as “a really fun time.” At the time, the most popular trend was big hair styled up and very ball-gown-like dresses. Compared to the more trendy form-fitting dresses now, proms in the 80s were filled with very big, statement dresses. D’Alexander recalls her dress being very Cinderella-like. 

In addition, Woodland English teacher Anna Muharem, remembers her 1993 St. Joe’s High School senior prom at Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange. Entering the early 90’s the dress trends became more simple and elegant. 

“I loved my dress! My cousin made it for me. It was white satin and she made the straps out of pearls,” said Muharem.

It was also trendy for the guys to give the girls a bouquet of flowers rather than what is more popular now, a corsage. 

D’Alexander explained, “The trend at the time was not to have real flowers, so that you could just keep them.”

Similar to D’Alexander, Muharem says, “So here we are, wearing our white dresses and carrying bouquets…we looked like a bunch of teen brides!.”

Along with being able to treasure the bouquet of flowers, for both D’Alexander and Muharem, the trend was to name the prom theme after a song. With the theme being a song, the girls were normally gifted with a champagne glass with the song name printed on it. Similarly the guys were gifted a mug with the song name. 

“Our theme was the song ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton,” said Muharem. 

D’Alexander remembers, “Ours was ‘Hold onto the Night’ by Richard Marks.”

Looking back on the late 1990s, Woodland English teacher and Woodland Worldwide advisor, Meghan Geary, looks back on her 1996 senior prom as a memorable night. 

“I remember having a lot of fun dancing with my friends,” said Geary. “We sang and danced to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which was really fun.”

As for the trends of the late-90’s it was popular for the girls to wear dainty gloves and scarfs to prom. 

Geary says the trend was to be “very overly styled”.

Similarly to the late 80s and early 90s chiffon, lace, and beading was still popular for dress features. So, it is seen here that some of the style trends lasted longer than others.

Entering the 2000s: form-fitting dresses, self tans, and iconic music. Woodland Guidance Counselor, Alyssa Kabusk recalls her 2007 Woodland senior prom as an unforgettable night with unforgettable trends. 

“I wore an off-white, long dress,” said Kabusk. “The body was form-fitting and then it was more open from above the knee to the floor and there were satin accents going down the sides.”

During the 2000s it was very popular to wear form-fitted dresses, and in addition the white-colored dresses continue to be in style. As for hair, it was very common to wear curls with a volumized bump on top. Along with curled hair and form-fitted dresses, one of the most significant trends was the fake tan. Not only was it the girls who fake tanned, which is more popular now, but the guys also took part in the trend. Fake tanning has definitely been a timeless trend thus far. 

A unique thing about the senior prom of 2007 for Kabusk, was the theme: 007 as in James Bond. Kabusk remembers the night’s most special features as the pre-prom photos and post-prom parties. 

“I remember all my friends gathering at my house for photos and it literally felt like we were being photographed by the paparazzi,” said Kabusk. Although cell phones didn’t exist back in 2007, there was no stopping digital cameras from taking over the prom photos. 

Not only were the pre-prom photos a significant piece of the night, but the post-prom party was also very special. Kabusk remembers that after prom everyone (including parents) headed to Woodland where the entire third floor was beautifully decorated and displayed. From rock-climbing, to Sumo wrestling, to a cute intimate cafe, there was truly something for everyone. 

“The gym was filled with bouncy houses, rock walls, inflatable obstacle courses, Sumo wrestling, you name it,” said Kabusk. “Outside the cafe was turned into a “coffee house” with couches and dim lighting,” she remembers, “there was every snack and food you could possibly imagine in the cafe and the courtyard had romantic twinkle lights and tables.”

In addition, some of the more popular songs of the 2000s are still played at proms today.

Kabusk remembers, “Soulja Boy was quite the popular song…and slow-dancing to ‘Hey There Delilah’.” 

Ultimately, for Kabusk her Woodland senior prom night was truly a special night to remember. 

Finally, moving towards the late 2010s when Woodland Guidance Counselor Secretary Jenn Cataldi had her 2018 senior prom. That year, Cataldi recalls the trends being super sparkly and form-fitted dresses. It is pretty clear that these trends have stuck, as many elegant dresses today are still form-fitting and very sparkly. However, a difference here is that Cataldi does not remember having a theme for her prom, in comparison to Woodland’s starry night theme. 

Similarly to Kabusk, Cataldi remembers the most fun parts of prom being the pre-prom and post-prom events. 

From the party bus that drove the seniors to prom, to the “up-all-night” post-prom event, Cataldi had the most fun before and after prom. 

“For after prom we went to the Sports Center in Shelton, so it was after hours and we all went there and it was really fun,” Cataldi said. 

Ultimately, prom has absolutely changed over the decades and although prom will continue to change, the event itself will never go out of style. 

Sofia Simoes

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