Teens Support Dress Codes at Prom, Despite Backlash

Hayley FitzPatrick
Prom dress codes are changing the way teens approach their end-of-year dance. (Photo: Getty Images)

High school dress codes across the nation are highly controversial — and often contested. And the decision by some schools to apply these strict guidelines to prom attire as well as in the classroom is a heavily debated topic of discussion among students, parents, and administrators, with many calling these codes sexist and offensive.

A Catholic school in Illinois made headlines in March 2017 after it created a 21-page book of 2017 dress code guidelines for proper prom attire, which many students believed was laced with body-shaming undertones. Similarly, a teen in Jacksonville, Fla., took issue with the dress code at her high school prom after being forced to put on leggings under her dress to get into the dance.

Incidents like these have led some students to speak out against dress codes and question their validity. However, despite this backlash, data from Yahoo Style’s exclusive new Prom Across America survey shows that teens — and adults — are actually warming up to them. Of 1,700 people surveyed, 66 percent of teens and 69 percent of adults over age 18 believed that imposing dress codes for prom is a good idea.

Image: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Style

Interestingly enough, dress codes at proms across the United States seem to have emerged in recent years. Fifty-five percent of adults said they didn’t have a dress code for the prom, whereas 56 percent of teens surveyed claimed they have a dress code for prom. The data also shows that the codes increased in popularity with the millennial generation, as 44 percent of students ages 18 to 34 said they had a dress code for prom, but only 25 percent of those ages 35 to 54, and 22 percent of those 55 and older said they had one.

Prom dress codes are more prevalent in the Midwest and South than the rest of the country.
(Image: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Style)

The Midwest stands as the region with the highest likelihood of prom dress codes, with 60 percent of teens stating they had one. The South closely followed, with 57 percent of teens saying they were instructed to abide by a prom dress code.

Prom dress codes are changing teen’s shopping habits in certain regions. (Image: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Style)

With more areas across the United States adopting regulations for prom, teens are keeping the rules in mind while shopping for attire. Approximately 51 percent of teens surveyed stated they kept their school’s rules in mind while shopping for their prom ensembles.

This could also explain why the Yahoo Style data shows that slip and body-con dresses are the least popular prom styles — and princess dresses, which are less figure-hugging, were found to be the most popular dress teens were planning to wear to prom.

Read more from our Prom Across America Survey:

Read more recent prom coverage from Yahoo Style + Beauty:

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