In the past 30 years, proms have changed quite a bit. Parents of teens shopping for prom dresses for 2019 think back to their 1980s prom dresses that were homemade or purchased on the cheap. They didn’t get manicures, have limos, or designer shoes, but in the age of Instagram and Pinterest, proms have become much costlier.
So why is the average prom now costing every attendee a whopping $900? It’s all coming down to how fabulous the day should look.
Young prom goers are regularly getting inundated with images of over-the-top proms from celebrities and the rich and famous through social media—and they want to do the same! Knowing that their prom images will be immediately disseminated to everyone they know (and plenty of people they don’t remember) through social media means that prom-goers want to be fashionable, sexy, and envy-inducing, and that comes at a price. The thought is less about the event itself, and more about how you’ll look at that event.
One of the most massive splurge’s girls make is on their prom dress. Prom dresses can cost anywhere from $100 to $1000. They can rarely be re-worn and selling them often only results in getting a fraction of the original price, so buying a prom dress is kind of a sunk cost.
That being said, shopping online is one way that prospective prom-goers can keep their costs low. Online stores like JJ’s House don’t have the same overhead as brick and mortar stores so they can offer a huge variety of prom dresses at a significant discount.
Many kids going to prom are also interested splurging on hotel rooms or cottages for after parties, and for fancy cars as transportation to and from the dance. Limos aren’t the only choice anymore either. Many teenagers now spring for vintage muscle cars, sports cars, or even chauffeured town cars top bring them to and from the big dance.
While many teenagers do still do their own hair and makeup, more and more are splurging for salon blow-outs, professional makeup application, and manicures and pedicures. Altogether, this primping can run well over $500, depending on the stylist and location.
Tickets to prom have also increased in price, with many high schools charging as much as $70 or more for a single ticket. Ticket prices aren’t just being arbitrarily inflated either, the expectations for prom décor have also risen significantly. No more is a packet of helium balloons and a photo booth enough. Now, teenagers look forward to a transformed space complete with real flowers, catering, and live music.
Many experts believe the cost of prom has risen in direct correlation to the advanced marriage age. With no wedding in sight to save for, teens are more willing to save for months to afford the night of their dreams.
There is one bright spot where prom associated prices have dropped, and that’s with men’s suits. The cost of men’s suits has fallen by 21% in the last 20 years. This is most likely because most of the material used is now inexpensive imported.