Dig out your blue eyeshadow, your body glitter and your Aqua Net, because it’s time for PROM WEEK on Pictorial.
Let’s flash forward from the tail end of the 1950s to the dawn of the 1970s. What did prom even look like after the intervening upheavals?
In 1964, the tagline of the Scholastic magazine Co-ed was “The High School Magazine For Homemakers and Career Girls.” By 1971, they’d adopted “For the Lively Ones” instead. Getting married at 21 didn’t necessarily come to a screeching halt for everybody in America immediately, but the cultural conditions that made prom such a big deal in the 1950s had crumbled. So, what was Co-ed telling its readers?
Obviously nobody was expecting an elaborate enchanted evening of chiffon and protocol anymore. Seems the thing in 1971 was to go “old-fashioned.” (Just 15 years out from the mid ‘50s, a crinoline would have been merely square, not retro.) As a column on accessories headlined “Prom Put-Togethers” explained:
Can’t pull together your look, your mood, or yourself for the prom? The right accessories can do it! Let your imagination leap! Try carrying tradition a little further back; dig through your grandma’s attic for odd oldies. A silk shawl? A beaded pouch? Or look through your history text for hints from the ladies of court. Can your gown do with a belt, bauble, or bustle?
The historical vibe continued in the issue’s big fashion spread, which is a grab-bag of historical styles—Regency, Ren Faire—plus advice about the symbolism and connotations of various flowers.
Please note the vital importance of the right floppy hat. (Clearly nobody was spending much on her hairdo in the 70s, because you’d never ruin it with a hat.) Also, flounces.
And, best of all, my God, these two looks:
The magazine was also full of ads for products you might consider picking up while you were shopping for that perfect, romantic prom dress with the bell sleeves.
If things go really well, though, he might buy you a sweetheart chest!