Short Prom Dresses

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Since the early days of the high school prom, the term "prom dress" been associated with the kind of long, finely-detailed gowns evocative of traditional formal wear. However, a recent trend toward short prom dresses opens up new possibilities -- not just for proms, but for everything from homecoming dances, to winter formals, and more.

Longstanding Tradition

The high school prom first emerged in the 1930s and '40s, as we can see from yearbooks of the period. It may be rooted in traditions even earlier than that, with some historians suggesting that proms may have started as a college tradition as early as the late 19th century.

Early prom fashions were rooted in the idea of wearing one's "Sunday best," which is to say the kind of clothes you'd wear to church. This explains the beautiful long dresses that persist as a prom staple even to this day.

Evolving Styles

Formal wear is more rooted in tradition, and thus slower to change, than everyday or casual fashion, but we've still seen a number of changes in prom dresses over the decades.

In the 1940s, the norm was full, long gowns with covered shoulders and long sleeves. This evolved over time, from the more form-fitting dresses of the 1950s and '60s, back to fuller and more flowing gowns in the disco '70s, to a thankfully short-lived fascination with metallic colors in the '80s, to the off-the-shoulder looks of the '90s and trend toward higher necklines of the early 2000s.

The Era of Short?

More recent years have seen formal wear trends move toward beautiful simplicity and a less-is-more aesthetic, which may explain why shorter dresses are starting to come into vogue.

There are also shifting ideas of what constitutes "formal" in the first place. Years of fashion-forward celebrity fashion at awards shows and movie premiers has expanded the range of acceptable styles for formal occasions. A short dress can have as much fine detail, be made of luxurious fabric, and exude as much glamor as any of its longer, more traditional cousins, and designers and prom-goers alike are starting to recognize this.

The trend toward short prom dresses also reflects a growing trend toward practicality and usability in women's fashion. It's much harder to dance all night at prom or other celebratory occasions in a long, flowing gown. There's also the fact shorter dresses are more at-home in a larger variety of settings than long, elaborate dresses that you may pick up for prom and then never wear again.


Short prom dresses might just be the wave of the future, and there are reasons you might want to wear them over long dresses, but that doesn't mean you have to. You might prefer the style of the traditional long prom dress, and that's perfectly okay! Modern prom-goers have a wider array of dress options than ever before, and you should absolutely go with whatever you're most comfortable with or interested in.

What the evolution of formal dresses really shows is that we've moved from an era where fashion choices were limited by a fairly strict set of rules to one where individual expression and comfort plays a larger role. The idea of the short prom dress, for so long something that would be completely unthinkable, perfectly encapsulates this.

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Alyce Paris 3888 Alyce Paris 3888
Short and Sweet Luminous Satin Formal Dress $198.00 $98.00
Sherri Hill 53002 Sherri Hill 53002
Strapless sweetheart neckline short lace a line gown $450.00
Alyce Paris 3863 Alyce Paris 3863
V Neckline Short Dress $258.00
Alyce Paris 4150 Alyce Paris 4150
Sweetheart neckline rhinestone encrusted bodice chiffon short skirt $198.00
Sherri Hill 52974 Sherri Hill 52974
Short fitted puffed sleeved with adjustable corset back $370.00
Sherri Hill 52106 Sherri Hill 52106
Short Beaded Halter Dress $598.00
Sherri Hill 52963 Sherri Hill 52963
Simple and Stunning $298.00
Sherri Hill 53060 Sherri Hill 53060
V neckline spaghetti straps low back short fitted with beaded detailing $498.00
Sherri Hill 53064 Sherri Hill 53064
High neckline long sleeve short a line with sequin and floral detailing $698.00
Sherri Hill 53242 Sherri Hill 53242
V neckline low cut back sequin bodice short a line with tulle skirt $498.00
Alyce Paris 3810 Alyce Paris 3810
Halter Neckline Short Dress $238.00 $118.00
Alyce Paris 2662 Alyce Paris 2662
Halter Neckline Two Piece with Back Cut Outs $228.00 $98.00
Sherri Hill 52098 Sherri Hill 52098
Beaded and Dazzling $598.00
Sherri Hill 53107 Sherri Hill 53107
Sweetheart Strapless Simple Short Dress $298.00
Alyce Paris 4147 Alyce Paris 4147
V neckline open criss cross back short fitted beaded tulle $498.00
Alyce Paris 4098 Alyce Paris 4098
V neckline open back short fitted jersey $148.00
Sherri Hill 53065 Sherri Hill 53065
Elegant Short Dress with Beaded Detail $598.00
Alyce Paris 3882 Alyce Paris 3882
V neckline open back short a line luminous satin $178.00 $168.00
La Femme 28218 La Femme 28218
V neckline open back short sequin $178.00
Sherri Hill 53172 Sherri Hill 53172
Fitted and Beaded Beauty $598.00
Sherri Hill 53025 Sherri Hill 53025
High Neckline Simple Short Dress $298.00
Sherri Hill 52165 Sherri Hill 52165
Stunning Beaded Dress with Corset Back $498.00
Alyce Paris 4132 Alyce Paris 4132
Off-The-Shoulder Lace and Jersey Two Piece $228.00
Sherri Hill 52970 Sherri Hill 52970
Glitter and Glam $298.00
Sherri Hill 52562 Sherri Hill 52562
Metallic Lace with Removable Overskirt $650.00
Alyce Paris 3908 Alyce Paris 3908
Strapless Sweetheart Neckline Short Dress $188.00 $98.00
Sherri Hill 53198 Sherri Hill 53198
Simple Halter $298.00
Alyce Paris 3773 Alyce Paris 3773
Strapless sweetheart neckline low back floral brocade short dress $178.00
Sherri Hill 52177 Sherri Hill 52177
V neckline low back floral mikado print short a line $298.00
Alyce Paris 3869 Alyce Paris 3869
V Neckline Printed Chiffon Short Dress $168.00
Alyce Paris 3824 Alyce Paris 3824
Two piece halter neckline open back short tulle lace $198.00
Sherri Hill 53148 Sherri Hill 53148
Short V Neckline Spaghetti Strap V Cut Back with Sequins $350.00
Sherri Hill 53081 Sherri Hill 53081
Sweetheart with the Sheer Sides $298.00
Sherri Hill 53239 Sherri Hill 53239
Lacey Open Back Satin Short Dress $350.00
Sherri Hill 53096 Sherri Hill 53096
Halter Neckline with Sequins and Feathers $450.00
Sherri Hill 53121 Sherri Hill 53121
Strapless Beaded Dress $598.00
Alyce Paris 3792 Alyce Paris 3792
Lace Short Dress with Cap Sleeves $172.00
La Femme 28227 La Femme 28227
V neckline short sequin with ruching and spaghetti straps $198.00
Sherri Hill 52648 Sherri Hill 52648
Strapless Sweetheart High Low Dress $650.00
Sherri Hill 52991 Sherri Hill 52991
V Neckline Open Back Short Fitted Beaded Design $550.00

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