Prom trends Y2K vs now

It’s prom season, so who had the better style: the crew from the 2000’s, or today’s teens?

Prom styles from 2000s movies like 10 Things I Hate About You reflect the fun rhinestone-driven age of fashion

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Prom styles from 2000’s movies like “10 Things I Hate About You” reflect the fun rhinestone-driven age of fashion

Kathleen DeJesus, Arts & Culture Writer

What’s the difference between prom and an elevator?

One plays catchy music while prom plays outdated hits from five years ago.

Prom is a pretty big deal for most high school students; it’s like the Met Gala for broke teens making minimum wage. The stress of finding the perfect dress, tux and accessories to match your date is a problem for each teen no matter the decade. The 2000’s are known for cheap spray tans, rhinestones and reality TV which did not disappoint. Twenty years later, seniors and juniors are scrambling to find the outfit to set them apart, or they’re resting from the night’s festivities.

Obviously, I was not around for prom in the 2000s. Regardless, a look back to past trends to the present is a sure fire way to avoid ending up on a compilation. 

1. Vibrant Colors

The vibrant decade brought a rise of colorful dresses and tuxedos. No matter the color they made sure to get the brightest, most eye-catching dresses.The most recurring colors were red and aqua-blue. Contrasting the era’s vibrant colors, prom dresses now tend to be more muted and dark. The colors taking hold of prom attendees this year are dark emerald green and shimmery black. Current prom trends lean more towards a classy look opposite of the fun of the 2000’s.

2. Popular Fabrics

A similarity with both time periods is their shared love for satin. For both groups, the shinier the dress the cuter it is. Satin has been a popular fabric for formal gowns since the 1950’s but it’s the rise of minimalism from the late 90s that contributed to the love of satin that is still around today.

3. Dress Shapes

Dresses that had an a-line or princess shape reigned supreme back then however now the top contenders are mermaid and slip dresses. The dresses of the past flared out more while the dresses of today focus on hugging one’s figure. 

4. Hair Styles

Any form of up-do had the 2000’s in a chokehold, the most common one I found being a curled up-do with bangs. In contrast the 2020’s leans more towards styling hair down and letting the hair move with the wind. Personally I’d have to give props to the 2000’s girlies for practicality. 

5. Accessories

Last but not least, the accessories: the final thing that can make or break your prom look. The biggest thing that sticks out to me was the absurd amount of rhinestones from the 2000’s. A little bit of rhinestone would have made the dresses cute, but instead the shiny overload made them seem tacky. Bedazzled dresses and accessories are a fun way to customize a look but avoid doing the most and looking like a disco ball. For current prom accessories I’ve seen a plethora of unique pieces with online shopping making it easier to find a unique set.


All sly remarks aside, trends are just fun ways to document what’s popular at that moment. The beauty of it all is that there are so many different categories and many people mash them together to make an outfit perfectly tailored to their desires. No matter how crappy the music is, prom is about feeling good in your skin and partying with your friends so wear whatever makes you feel like the best version of yourself.