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The many prom dress trends that date back to the 1940s

The prom has endured as a meaningful teenhood tradition for decades: It’s a hotly anticipated toast to high school, playing a pivotal part of basically any teen flick worth its salt (not to mention how pivotal it can be IRL too). Proms are just one type of coming-of-age ceremony, along with quinceañeras, bar/bat mitzvahs, Catholic communions and confirmations, debutante balls, and weddings. All these rites of passage, and the carefully chosen clothes that are worn on these special occasions, have stuck around. But the prom dress differs from most rite-of-passage fashion traditions: It’s nonsecular, and not tied to any particular ethnicity, and, thus, it’s more universal.