Let it be 1985 or 1965, basic prom traditions remain intact. Bake sales, dances and car washes are the primary fundraisers; and the inevitable chaperons (usually the parents who are the biggest pushovers) still endure music that they detest as they linger quietly among the revelers. The Prom is still going strong in America, but in this post-"Carrie" generation, teen-agers still make us realize how things have changed. Cookies and punch in the gym have been replaced with close-to-overdone hotel-catered affairs in the ballroom. Go-go bands are in this year. But they're a far cry from the go-go bands of the '60s; instead, musicians with exaggerated flattops ("Phillies") play a mixture of rap and funk music. Gatoring is over. The dance is "Happy Feet."
Short, short dresses are in this year, or full-length gowns; it doesn't really matter. But most prom-goers add a little camp, a tulle wrap, big glittery jewelry or vintage gloves. The well-dressed teen-ager today is obsessed with accessories, with details. But it's a delicate line; the worst crime of all is to be Overdone.
As always, it's much easier for the boys. They can coast along in their white dinner jackets, wing collar shirts and tuxedo pants, bought or rented at bargain rates. They can be charming by simply adding a bright cummerbund, a bow tie and a fresh carnation. Their only crisis of the evening is having to select, buy and, worst of all, pin corsages on their dates.
Hair is more dramatic than it has been in the past. It is tied in place with tulle or given a sharp angle in front. The trauma is still familiar -- keeping it all in control.
Boys have their hair cut like Sting and Matthew Broderick: short crop on the sides and long on top.
Prom Night has not lost its place as a night of passage, an Initiation, a Last Blast and, as always, a night to remember -- or a night to forget. CAPTION: Picture, IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: blue and white striped prom dress, $122; in the rear, pink sweetheart-cut prom dress, $184; glass necklace, $72; gloves, $14. All from I. Magnin. ON THE MEN: White dinner jackets, $50; wing collar shirts, $25; tuxedo pants, $35; solid bow tie and cummerbund, $24; print set, $30. All from Classic Clothing. HAIR BY PHILIP MERSHON; MAKEUP BY ROSS HURTT/FLASHBACK; STYLIST, JUDALON WATSON OF E-FEX; FLOWERS COURTESY OF DOVE FLOWERS; PARTY SUPPLIES COURTESY OF THE PAPER STORE; ACCESSORIES FROM COMMANDER SALAMANDER. 1964 LINCOLN CONTINENTAL COURTESY OF COACHHOUSE CARS.