Recoup a Bit of That Prom Season Magic With These Throwbacks of Stars at the Big Dance

While pretty much no one is able to go to prom this year (unless it's the virtual, celeb-hosted variety), we can all enjoy these throwbacks of stars in formal wear. Two words: '80s hair.

By Sarah Grossbart Jun 13, 2020 7:00 AMTags
Watch: Khloe Kardashian Goes to Prom!

If the world of pop culture and everyone who loves and follows it (that'd be you, E! News reader) were a high school, celebrities would undoubtedly be the cool kids.

Just think how breathlessly we consume the minutiae of their daily lives. We cheer for the class couples (hi, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend!), speculate over who is most likely to succeed (at the Oscars, on the Met Gala red carpet, throughout television's fall schedule) and campaign for who we'd like to see as president. (So, Oprah Winfrey, that's a firm no?) 

And we're forever declaring someone queen. See: Zendaya, Ariana Grande, and, as always, Beyoncé

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So no shock here that in real life, future celebs were already being crowned in high school with everyone from Meryl Streep to Halle Berry honored by their classmates from New Jersey and Ohio. (Also, Will Ferrell just straight up snagged his date's tiara, which we're absolutely here for.) 

And while pretty much no high schooler is able to go to prom this year, unless it's the virtual kind or a backyard date put together by the sweetest babysitting charge you ever did see and there are many heavy, entirely imperative conversations happening, we can all still enjoy a bit of levity with these throwbacks of your favorite stars at the big dance. Because while some promgoers were every bit as impossibly chic as you'd imagine (though, to be fair, Yara Shahidi was a high school senior in Ungaro all of three years ago) others fell victim to the same trends we all tried. (Remember two-piece formalwear?) 

Also, if you need more convincing, we'll leave you with two words: '80s hair. 

Brad Pitt

Ah, young love! The Missouri-bred future Oscar winner "went to two proms," he told W, "because I was dating a beautiful young woman from the neighboring high school, so we had to hit one and then hit the other."

Yara Shahidi

Looking more than Grown-ish in emerald Rodarte, the future Harvard student attended her 2017 prom with fellow actress and Teen Vogue cover girl Rowan Blanchard

Matthew McConaughey

After the Texas native snagged his Oscar in 2014, the niece of his prom date tweeted a photo from the big night they'd enjoyed some three decades earlier. TBH, we'd have done the same, all right? 

Jennifer Aniston

Nearly a decade before she'd sport the '90s most famous haircut, the actress went au natural to her senior dance at NYC's famed LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts.

Lady Gaga

What, no meat dress? The fashion-forward pop star appeared surprisingly staid at her NYC private high school's dance in the early 2000s. 

Ellen DeGeneres

"Yes, this is real," the talk show host, class of '76 at Texas' Atlanta High School, posted of her plaid prom look. Though, if we're being real, we're kind of digging her date's maroon hue. 

John Stamos

White tux, ruffled shirt, feathered hair—have mercy! "#TBT #Prom #Hair," the alum of California's Kennedy High School wrote on Instagram.

Taraji P. Henson

The Empire actress was homecoming queen when she attended Oxon Hill High School in Maryland. "I really didn't think I was gonna win. That's a very surprised look," the 1999 grad told Allure in a June 2015 interview. "I used to rock honey blond in high school. I was blonde before Beyoncé."

Lance Bass & Danielle Fishel

Dating at the time, the 'N Sync singer boy bander accompanied Boy Meets World's Topanga to her California high school prom in 1999, but they said, "Bye Bye Bye" after just 20 minutes. "It was terrible!" Bass confessed to Cosmo

Jaden Smith & Amandla Stenberg

Jessica McClintock gowns and rented tuxes are for amateurs. Smith went full-on fashion to accompany his pal, Hunger Games' actress Stenberg to her high school's big night. 

Giuliana Rancic

Who was E!'s Rancic wearing? A very fashion-forward trend. "I was ahead of my time," she explained. "I'm all about the high-low trend, which is very in style right now, so even back then, a hundred years ago, I was high-low."

George Clooney

Three-and-a-half decades after the Oscar winner accompanied Laurie Laycock Bach to their Kentucky prom, he made a date with her 18-year-old son to play one-on-one. In town for a family reunion, "He said he had kept up with Brent's basketball and was very proud of him and wanted to play him a game," Bach shared in a Facebook post. "Still the same old George!!"

Jaden Smith

The prom king we deserve: Before joining Stenberg at her dance, the then-16-year-old swooped in clad in the same Batman costume he wore to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding. 

Paul Rudd

Apparently, the funnyman has been stealing hearts since his high school days. The This Is 40 star proudly poses in a pic for the senior homecoming court. Love the mullet, man. 

Sandra Bullock

The Virginia cheerleader and theater kid showed some congeniality at her senior homecoming dance.

Renée Zellweger

The Bridget Jones star rocked her best '80's bangs at her senior Christmas dance. 

Halle Berry

Bedford High School prom queen was just the first of many crowning achievements for the future Oscar winner. Named Miss Teen All-American in 1985, she'd grab the Miss Ohio title a year later, placing second in the Miss USA pageant. 

Kristin Chenoweth

The singer was cute as a button—and brunette!—in her 8th grade dance photo. 

Ryan Seacrest

By the time the consummate host was charming fellow students at his Atlanta homecoming, he had already taken the first step toward his future, scoring an internship at a local radio station. 


No doubt pint-size reality star fist pumped her way through prom night in Marlboro, N.Y. in 2006. 

Debra Messing

At her Rhode Island high school, the Will & Grace star was in the drama club, on yearbook staff, in the National Honor Society and, apparently, a pro at mastering '80s hairstyles. 

Lizzy Caplan

On homecoming night, we wear prints. The Mean Girls star refused to blend at her senior homecoming in Los Angeles.  

Faith Hill

It's a feeling like this: Here's hoping the Mississippi-bred country singer experienced perpetual bliss on her senior year homecoming night.  

Meryl Streep

Before she took home any Oscars, the Academy Award-winning actress was voted senior homecoming queen. 

Montell Williams

This is how we do it. The talk-show host showed off some serious swag on his senior prom night in Maryland. 

Meg Ryan

Long before she met Harry, was Sleepless in Seattle and getting mail and stuff, America's sweetheart was voted prom queen by her Connecticut classmates.  

Will Ferrell

He may not have been elected prom queen, but the California-bred funnyman did snag his date's tiara ahead of their classically posed pic. 

Randy Jackson

That's gonna be a yes from me, dawg. The onetime American Idol judge, a native of Louisiana, should be declared a winner for his tux choice alone.  

Stacy Keibler

A trained ballerina, the Baltimore resident showed off her other dance skills at semi-formal with pals. 

Magic Johnson

He didn't just rule the basketball court. Dubbed "Magic" for his point guard skills at Everett High School in Lansing, Mich., Earvin Johnson was also named homecoming prince!

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