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A Video Game Made Teens’ List Of Top Prom Trends

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

For teens, prom is no longer just a dance—it’s a place to push the status quo and win social media points. Here are the top 10 prom trends they say are big now…

Prom season has arrived, and for Gen Z, the event remains a big milestone. The majority of high schoolers tell Ypulse it’s at least somewhat important for them to attend their proms, and over two in five say it’s very to extremely important. With just over one third of high school students planning attending this year, the dance best known for department store dresses, corsages, and 20 teens piled into a limo has become a place for Gen Z to wage “modern cultural battles,” according to Quartz. And that means for some teens, prom is as much about breaking down barriers of race, sex, and social expectations as it is about slow dancing with your boo. Last year, we saw girls in tuxes, Afrocentric gowns, transgender prom kings, viral show-stopping DIY dresses, and anti-proms—all trends that are continuing this year. Already, a teen in Alabama fought—and won—to wear a tuxedo to her prom, while a white teen in Utah got slayed on social media for wearing a traditional Chinese dress.

While some are using the night to challenge the status quo, others are sticking to tradition. Yahoo Style recently surveyed promgoing high schoolers and found them to be “the most traditional teens in years,” opting for modest dresses and traditional dates. The majority of teens tell Ypulse they would rather go to the dance with a date than friends, and Yahoo found that just 9% of teens are planning to go with a friend, compared to 13% of Millennials who did the same. With this cultural mashup of prom implications, we wanted to know what teens themselves are seeing trending for the notorious rite of passage. In our recent Topline on all things prom, we asked 13-20-year-olds, “What prom trends have you noticed this year?”* Here are the top 10 trends they told us they’re seeing:

*This was an open-end response question to allow us to capture the full range of prom trends that 13-20-year-olds are noticing this year—without our preconceived ideas shaping their responses. As with any qualitative question, the responses include those that are top of mind and those that are most popular. The list is ordered according to number of responses received, and alphabetically when ties occurred.

What Prom Trends Have They Noticed This Year?


  1. Promposals

  2. Memes & Puns

  3. Clever/Cheesy/Themed Posters

  4. Casual

  5. Short dresses

  6. Long dresses

  7. Fortnite

  8. Going with friends

  9. Blue

  10. Limos

Over half of high school students tell us people in their school are planning elaborate ways to ask someone to prom—“promposals,” the viral trend among high school students, has transformed the awkward act of asking someone to the dance into an over-the-top event. High schoolers told us this is the top prom trend they’re seeing this year, beating out the number two trend three-fold. The trend is fun, punny, social media-splashy, and sometimes pricey. Often, posters are made as a part of the promposal, which explains the number two trend they’re seeing. Memes and puns are often featured, and the more clever the promposal, the more likely it will get attention on social media. Promposals have become such a huge phenomenon that there’s even an MTV show about them, which debuted last year, and March 11 has been dubbed National Promposal Day.

While the majority of prom trends on this list are nothing too out of the ordinary, there is one standout—Fortnite. The massively popular video game is taking culture by storm, becoming a phenomenon that raked in $223 million in March alone, according to Superdata. The game is breaking records, building a community, and taking over the internet with its fandom culture. The New Yorker reports that over 3 million players have been on the game at a time, and it has an estimated 60 million downloads. It’s so popular, in fact, that some teen gamers are incorporating it into the promposal trend by asking their dates out with Fortnite-themed invites—or even asking them within the virtual world of the game itself. While Prom Night 2018 may be populated with as many corsages and long dresses as any other year, Gen Z is getting creative to make the event their own, too.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.