Let’s Read Your Prom, Spring 1990!

So proms…proms are pretty much a North American thing, right? They’re a big end-of-year formal dance for juniors and seniors, but there’s a weird avalanche of expectations and customs you have to adhere to, like buying special flowers and arriving in a limousine and forking over way too much money for a dress. There’s also a lot of cultural grossness about things like who asks who out, and pressure to lose your virginity on prom night.

From what I can tell, the cultural relevance of the senior prom is maintained heavily by the formalwear industry seizing on the chance to make bank outside of wedding season. Hence, from the creators of Modern Bride magazine comes this…thing. I like the pretension of it being Spring 1990, like it’s a scholarly quarterly review of Dance Away Dresses.

I believe that’s Rebecca Gayheart? She’s looking rather unsure about her hat, like she knows those aren’t forget-me-nots but speaking up will get her fired from the photoshoot.


As soon as the photo was taken that cat ripped those earrings right off her earlobe.

“But who AM I?” Marlene whispered to the woman in the mirror, pulling off her intricately teased and frosted wig to reveal a close-shaven scalp. “Am I the painter? Am I The Summer Blonde? Am I a quiet dinner for two? Am I day-glo bathing suits and lifeguards? Am I funky earrings? AM I FUNKY EARRINGS?”

The polka dot gloves really bring this look home.

Wonder Woman!

What to do if you’re sooo popular that you’re going broke from all the various proms that you’re being invited to. Let’s face it, this is the 90s!

Also don’t drink and drive!

Miss Cryselle enjoys steaming the wrinkles out of her dress, windsurfing, and stealing her grandmother’s prayer tchotchkes to make her own jewelry!

This is mostly sound, but I’m laughing at the backup plan of hanging out with other girls who don’t have plans. “Stephanie? Hey…this is Stacy? Yeah, um, Kevin dumped me a few minutes ago *pause for ten minutes of hysterical teen girl sobbing* so, like, I was wondering, you know, since nobody asked you to prom, are you, like…doing anything tonight? Can I come over? It was supposed to be the most magical night of my life, but…uh…I guess I’m going to hang out with you instead?”

Realize all your sequined taffeta nightmares at Troxler’s Bridal Outlet!

Nicole and her date, Pete the Pedestal, were crowned second in homecoming court and tearfully vowed vengeance come senior year.

Golden Asp is still in business as Philadelphia’s premiere prom boutique, apparently, and is certainly America’s finest formalwear store named for a reptile.

Six year old me has nothing but praise for that green dress. Merry prom, fair wench!


There really is a line between “wanting to look grownup and sophisticated” and “looking like your desperate single 46 year old aunt who spends her Thursday nights at hotel bars trying to pick up stray businessmen.” That should not be your prom inspiration.

Don’t shed good manners with your dress!

Start dieting sensibly and work on your tan three months early, young teenager who is apparently coordinating a $20,000 event entirely on her own!

Brandi, Kristie Dawn, Heidi Jo, Kristi, and Kara assure you that they are all, in fact, under the age of 20 and have the pageant sashes to prove it!

If we put “desireable” in quotes, it won’t seem creepy and inappropriate at all!

Bo peep fantasy nightmares!

Mandy had to admit, Tom’s obsession with crashing random high school proms in order to show off his collection of Raffinati tuxedos was starting to become less romantic and more unsettling. She wondered how long it would be before the photographers started to catch on.

Hey it’s hot merman #2 from that Madonna video! That was a very important work of cinema to six year old me. Among Curt Butrum’s distinguished IMDB credits is his iconic role of “Guy In Bed”!

“Stephanie said that it was a good thing I picked out this dress because we’re facing a devastating mylar balloon shortage, and like, I don’t really know what she’s talking about it but if there’s actually a balloon shortage then that’s really scary and maybe they should call someone about that.”

I’ve come to understand that limousines are really important for proms because otherwise you run the risk of smothering your date to death by trying to cram a hoop skirt full of nylon ruffles into the front seat of his Volkswagon rabbit.

Lord West and Aisha-Joelle drove off into the night and were never seen again, but the students still whisper of their legend to this day.

Unlike these two posers, Katie and Justin, ugh, JUSTIN. Why are you even bothering, you losers. You’ll never be Aisha-Joelle and Lord West.

“This is Antonio! My mom hired him for me from an escort agency for 600 bucks! He doesn’t speak any English, so you can say whatever you want in front of him and he’ll just smile! Isn’t he hot? Do you want to take a picture with him?”

Lord Spencer West, millionaire playboy aristocrat. Don’t sniff the corsage too deeply – it’s full of ether!

Working some 90s Dreamboat Hair.

Dressed To Thrill’s debut album, Taxidermy Swordfish, tore up the Hot Modern Rock charts for three weeks in the summer of 1998. The hit single “Prom Converse (Promverse)” remains a staple at proms and formal events in the midwest.

So, you know, this is the 90s now and we’re TOTALLY COOL about you having sex on prom night, because it’s SO TOTALLY YOUR CALL and we trust that you can be safe and make responsible decisions, because WE’RE TOTALLY COOL ADULTS NOT LIKE YOUR LAME-O PARENTS but let’s talk about some basic truths first, like how your boyfriend that “loves” “you” and has always been “respectful” of your “choices” is actually a sex-wolf who has been programmed by society since birth and has undergone a secret coming of age ritual in which his father, rather optimistically, presented him with a whole bag of condoms before setting him loose on you for the night. We’d also like to remind you that sex inevitably leads to babies, chlamydia, adoption, abortion, and herpes. So, for safety’s sake, don’t spend any alone time with your date. Even though 90 percent of what we’ve written elsewhere in this magazine is about looking as alluring as possible for moments when you’re alone with your date. So IT’S TOTALLY YOUR CALL and we’re ONE HUNDRED PERCENT behind you in whatever you choose to do about having sex on prom night, but we’d also really like to state for the sake of this magazine’s liability that we would really prefer it if maybe you didn’t. Listen to your good friend Frankie. Frankie says relax!

Dateless? Please read our 25 reasons why you should still go to the prom! Really! You’ll get to see your friends! You won’t have to worry about dating etiquette! THE FORMALWEAR AND BANQUET HALL INDUSTRY DESPERATELY NEED YOUR PARENT’S MONEY.

I love that my girlfriend smells like a baby!


BRIDALTOWN! It’s far out of your way! It looks like a plastic Barbie house! It’s weirdly centered and has inconsistent punctuation! BRIDALTOWN.


Thanks for reading! I can’t say if I’m going back to doing this regularly because my work schedule and the status of my job as a public servant is literally changing every fifteen minutes today, but I hope this was a distraction for a little bit and you got some fun out of it. Talk about your own prom experiences below!