Prom Dress

Hand-sewn by the wearer for her senior prom in South Texas, this dress reflects middle-class attempts to imitate the grandeur of debutante balls. Starting out as college rituals at the turn of the 20th century, proms worked their way down to high schools and became more expensive during the prosperous 1950s. This dress was made in 1965, despite the counterculture of the 1960s showing a slight decline in the prom's popularity.
This dress is full-length and made of rose-colored, satin-like fabric. A darker pink machine-made lace with a floral patter covers the front and back of the bodice. The front of the lace is decorated with scattered three- point stars made of sewn-on oblong pearls with a smaller, round pearl in the center. These smaller pearls are also randomly applied throughout the bodice, though many are now missing. The bodice has two darts in the back and four in the front, with two coming up from the waist; the others form under the arms toward the breast area. An undecorated skirt is attached, flared, and gathered at the waist. It is made of two large panels seamed on the sides. The entire dress is lined in pale pink synthetic fabric. A metal zipper on the center back fastens the dress, and a hook-and-eye closure is at the top neckline.
Object Name
dress, 1-piece
Object Type
Entire Body
date made
Cantu, Norma E.
Physical Description
synthetic fibers (lining fabric material)
metal (zipper material)
synthetic fibers (dress fabric material)
metal (eye material)
metal (hook material)
chest width: 18 in; 45.72 cm
center back from neckline to hem: 51 1/2 in; 130.81 cm
place made
United States: Texas, Laredo
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Costume
Clothing & Accessories
American Enterprise
American Enterprise
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Norma Cantu
Additional Media

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