From the Red Carpet to Prom and Back Again

Where are we most likely to see dresses inspired by the ladies on the Oscars red carpet? At the mall.

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Where are we most likely to see dresses inspired by the ladies on the Oscars red carpet? At the mall. The largest segment of the American female population that will actually wear a sparkling ball gown is teenage girls going to prom. The benefits of the traditional post-Oscars fawning over high-brow designers accrues to middle-brow teens. Gwyneth Paltrow's 1999 pink spaghetti strap dress, designed by Ralph Lauren, was copied by thousands of prom dresses, and its influence on prom fashion could be felt a decade later, as seen in the 2007 prom photo (at right, by Associated Press and McBeth via Flickr.) But in recent years, we've seen an unsettling tendency for the influence to flow in the other direction. Perhaps it's fear of Joan Rivers and brutal worst-dress mockery, but actresses sometimes play it so safe it looks like they shopped at Macy's. Behold, the prom precedents for the 2013 Oscars red carpet.

The huge pale pouf: Amy Adams vs. Linda in 1962 vs. Mom in 1953.

(Photos by Associated Press; lslphoto via Flickr; Patrick Q via Flickr.)

The bright-red princess: Jennifer Aniston vs. Prom 1999 vs. Prom 1994 vs Prom 2009.

(Photos by Associated Press; judylcrook via Flickr; blu_traveler via Flickr; emma.buckley via Flickr.)

The kind-of wedding dress: Jennifer Lawrence vs. Jeanne and Russ 1959 vs. Lin and Larry 1965 vs Prom 2011.

( Photos by Associated Press; cgkinla via Flickr; Larry Braddy via Flickr; indybarb2002 via Flickr.)

The pale pink strappy satin: Anne Hathaway vs.  Prom 1999 vs. Mary, Jen, and Linds 1997 vs. Prom 2000.

(Photos by Associated Press; tess_marie via Flickr; keps1230 via Flickr; notmargaret via Flickr.)

The pale textured yellow: Kristen Stewart vs. Mom and Dad vs. Mom 1964 vs Prom 1965

(Photos by Associated Press; The Guncle via Flickr; Anosmia via Flickr; McMillon via Flickr.)

The pink crystal top: Kerry Washington vs. Prom 2012 vs. Prom 2007.

(Photos by Associated Press; myvikingvoice via Flickrmegpi via Flickr.)

The deep-blue strapless: Reese Witherspoon vs Prom 2011 vs Prom 2007 vs. Tom and Linda 2000.

(Photos by Associated Press; kristaguenin via Flickr; mk30 via Flickr; The BaoHouse via Flickr.)

The elaborate black-and-gold beading: Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta Jones vs. Genevieve 2009 vs. Prom 1997 vs. Julee 1995.

(Photos by Associated Press; LaBellaVida via Flickr; TromboneKenny via Flickr; riebschlager via Flickr; permanently scatterbrained via Flickr.)

The high hair: Helena Bonham Carter vs. Rowan's date.

(Photos via Associated Press and rowanf via Flickr.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.