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5 Young Women’s Subversive Opulent Prom Designs for Spring/Summer 23


Prom fashion is a perennial fashion category that consumers see reinvented each year. Sometimes it is the opulence associated with bygone trends that is popular, other times it is minimalism or subversion. The anticipated 2023 spring and summer trends point to a fashion scene that is going to be a combination of both opulence and subversion.

This article will explore what the subversive opulence trend is about. It will also analyze the global prom dress market, looking at the current market size, key drivers, and projected market growth. The article will then highlight the key young women’s subversive opulent prom designs that will rock the S/S 23 fashion cycle.

Table of Contents
What is the subversive opulence trend about?
Overview of the global prom dress market
5 subversive opulent prom designs that will rock S/S 23
Stocking for subversive opulence

What is the subversive opulence trend about?

The subversive opulence trend is a mix of fashion influences, from aristocratic opulence to a reinvention of those fashion codes with colorful pop-teen styles added that ultimately subvert the historical references.

At the fore of this reinvention are Gen Z and young, multiracial, and queer consumers who are driving the movement. Pop culture phenomena influenced by trending aesthetics such as #RoyalCore, #CoquetteCore, and #RegencyCore (as seen on TikTok and Instagram) have continued to see an uptrend.

The main featured aesthetics include clothing styles inspired by historical European eras, going from Renaissance to Belle Époque aesthetics. These styles are then reinvented through a pop lens for the prom season by blending colorful palettes as well as hi-lo styling. The result is prom designs that are lavish and opulent, while also being fun and easy to wear.

Overview of the global prom dress market

The global prom dress market is expected to experience growth over the 2020–2028 forecast period. Reports show that market value is projected to grow from US$ 14.6 billion in 2020 to reach US$ 18.4 billion by 2028, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8%.

Some of the key market drivers for growth in the global prom dress market include changing lifestyles, increasing disposable income, the rising adoption of prom culture seen among teenage populations across the globe, and an increase in the variety of fashion options.

5 subversive opulent prom designs that will rock S/S 23

1. The corset

Close up on a corset bow being tied

The corset is considered the ultimate #NuHistoric piece. It has been a popular fashion piece over the years but has recently made a comeback. It is an extremely versatile piece that can be styled either up or down depending on the overall look the wearer is going for.

Because it taps into the #EverydayDecadence aesthetic, the corset is a favorite for both prom celebrations and outings that are more casual.

Beyond the standard look, shoppers can opt for corsets that incorporate additional features, such as adjustable straps, or they can go for styles that are designed without structured boning, allowing greater comfort.

2. Haute couture skirt

The haute couture skirt is certainly a mark of opulence as the skirt is designed to be a lavish, statement piece. The circle skirt is typically made from fabrics such as taffeta or tulle.

The haute couture skirt can be combined with a corset to make up a matching set, making a great alternative to a dress for prom.

Because it has a subversive edge, the skirt’s wearability is not just limited to formal styling as it also has partywear appeal. While the wearer can wear the skirt to prom one day, they can also wear it to a party with friends on another.

3. Voluminous sheer dress

Woman wearing a voluminous purple dress made from tulle

Nothing says opulence more than volume, and that is exactly what the voluminous sheer dress delivers. Over the past few years, young women have gravitated toward ultra-delicate aesthetics, and this has driven up the popularity of sheers.

Designs made from tulle and organza have particularly emerged in unique color palettes such as soft gelato pastels. For a sassy look, young women can wear the voluminous sheer dress over hotpants or bras, creating modest layering.

The see-through nature of the dress provides wearers with infinite layering possibilities, meaning they can create unique styling compositions. This element of customization is very much in tune with one of Gen Zʼs quintessential characteristics—the desire for individuality.

4. Appliqué minidress

Woman wearing a pink minidress with bow details

The appliqué minidress is a fun combination of Rococo meets 80s excess. It is made up of over-the-top design details that are brought to the fore, such as statement bows or flower appliqués.

The appliqué minidress is usually made from party-sheen fabrics, such as satin and taffeta, that add a level of luxuriousness. This certainly dials up the opulent edge.

Exaggeration is a key part of this look. The oversized proportions of the bows and appliqués, and the possibility of multiple motifs being in one piece, add a subversive quality to the look.

To give shoppers options, retailers can invest in designs that have removable components, making the dresses more adaptable so wearers can wear them on different occasions.

5. Curtain set

Woman wearing a pink dress made from ruched fabric

The curtain set offers a stand-out look that will certainly get people noticing. It is a nod to old Victorian garments, which had ruched, curtain-like textures. This plays into the #NuHistorics aesthetic but adds a contemporary twist to this by incorporating streamlined silhouettes and on-season colors that work to balance out the volume.

Retailers can enable shoppers to play around with the proportions and lengths of the curtain sets by stocking versions that come with elastic bands or straps and can be easily adjusted like curtains or accordions.

Stocking for subversive opulence

The subversive opulence trend is very much about subverting historical or aristocratic pieces by reinventing them through a contemporary pop lens. This blend of historical references and playful or sassy modern elements makes for the perfect occasionwear designs that deliver both style and individuality.

As a key tenet of Gen Z philosophy, individuality is key in the products targeted toward this group. That is why the young women’s subversive opulent prom designs that are set to rock the 2023 spring and summer fashion cycles are worth stocking for the season.

The five designs highlighted in this article: the corset, the haute couture skirt, the voluminous sheer dress, the appliqué minidress, and the curtain set all have high wearability as they can be worn for countless occasions. This versatility in the designs also taps into Gen Z’s preference for clothing that can be reworn.

When offering styling options with their catalogs, retailers can use contrasts as a way of adding to the subversion of fashion clichés. Contrasts in color, fabric, and texture will provide wearers with unique styles that add to the contemporary, youthful looks of S/S 23.

Discover top-trending modern women’s occasion styles for autumn/winter 2022–23 here.

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