No parents should be paying £1,000 for a prom outfit

The essential 'movie' prom … Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink.

The essential ‘movie’ prom … Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink.

My daughter’s school is having a prom for the first time this year. What’s a suitable prom outfit for a 14-year-old?

Name withheld, by email

Yes, proms seem to be a thing in Britain now, don’t they? They must be, seeing as they’ve already achieved the accolade of being deemed “the worst thing that happened to British schools in the past 20 years” by one ridiculous tabloid. Yes! So much worse than a narrowing curriculum, Michael Gove and an increasingly impossible workload for teachers. Damn you, proms!

Perhaps I need to explain what a prom is: a prom is a school disco. There! Done! Let’s all go to the pub! What’s that? You need more information? Boy, I sure am earning my salary today. American teen films have done a marvellous job of mythologising the prom, usually by making the prom the climactic scene. Grease, Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, Pretty in Pink, Flashdance, She’s All That, Never Been Kissed, 10 Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls: nearly all of the most beloved teen films of the past few decades have featured a prom (noted exceptions include Clueless, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Say Anything), thus establishing in the minds of American kids that the prom matters and in the minds of non-American kids that the prom is a cool American import that allows one to live like a movie star. None of this is actually true – repeat, a prom is just a school disco. But never mind, if the kids enjoy it, fine. Read more..