How British Schools Fell for American Style Proms

Big dresses, huge cars, smart suits and lots of fun. What exactly is a school prom and how is it taking over from the school disco?

In recent years, the end of the British school year has become synonymous with students attending American style prom nights. Proms are big news in Britain these days. A formal party to celebrate an important date at school such as the end of secondary school or after completing school exams in Year 11.

An American tradition
Not long ago most British schools didn’t have school proms, opting for a simple school disco at the end of term. Now, most schools have a prom. Many adults see the prom as an import from the USA. With American TV programmes having a big influence on their kids.

But behind the glamour lies the fact that, for some young people, a prom night is just one more thing they can't afford that has been brought over the pond.

The school prom is big business and I'm sure a lot of associated companies rake in a fortune when that time of year comes round. The average prom costs parents over £200 per teenager, but many pay much, much more, especially people with daughters. Not all families have money to spend on their child's prom of course, so it's a case of finding a happy medium when it comes to what you might need.

Prom parties
Proms are usually held around July, at the end of exam time and close to the end of term. The idea is to have fun with your school friends and celebrate your time and achievements at school, a big blow out before you start college, work or any other aspect of your life. 

Some schools hold a luxury party in a hotel, whereas others may have dinner in the school hall with a dj. The school can organise the prom themselves, or they can pay a professional organisation to arrange it, but this will make it more expensive if they do this.

Clothes and beauty
Young people like to dress up for their prom and this is where it can get a little expensive. Most teenagers wear school uniform, but on prom night lots of girls swap their uniform for an elegant evening dress and high heels. You can find prom dresses for your body type to really find one that suits you best. Boys have it a little easier when it comes to prom, with a suit, a tie and smart shoes. 

The hairstyle and make-up are important too. Gone are the days of straightening your own hair and donning your own make up. Some beauty salons offer a special ‘prom deal’ which includes hair, make up, eyelashes and nails.

Arriving at your prom by chauffeur driven limousine is very popular, and was something I did when we had a school prom 15 years ago, when this phenomenon was just starting in the UK. I guess, part of the fun for some prom-goers is to drive around town in their best clothes and make sure that everyone sees them.


  1. I really dislike the Americanisation of our education system, graduating nursery, proms, all unnecessary expense which would be better spent elsewhere!

  2. Anything for money ! Wonder what will be next

  3. yes when I was young we didn't have Proms at school and Halloween was a religious day called All Souls Day and there was no such thing as trick or treating. All the American TV Shows and Films over the years struck a chord with retailers and all of a sudden they were here!

  4. Although a financial strain for some families, it is probably the first opportunity for teens to wear, and enjoy, formal dress. Sounds better than a school disco to me!

  5. We had a posh formal dance and dinner when I left school in the '80s. Myself and my particular gang didn't go - we went on a pub crawl instead.