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.
The bright-red princess: Jennifer Aniston vs. Prom 1999 vs. Prom 1994 vs Prom 2009.
The kind-of wedding dress: Jennifer Lawrence vs. Jeanne and Russ 1959 vs. Lin and Larry 1965 vs Prom 2011.
The pale pink strappy satin: Anne Hathaway vs. Prom 1999 vs. Mary, Jen, and Linds 1997 vs. Prom 2000.
The pale textured yellow: Kristen Stewart vs. Mom and Dad vs. Mom 1964 vs Prom 1965
The pink crystal top: Kerry Washington vs. Prom 2012 vs. Prom 2007.
The deep-blue strapless: Reese Witherspoon vs Prom 2011 vs Prom 2007 vs. Tom and Linda 2000.
The elaborate black-and-gold beading: Nicole Kidman and Catherine Zeta Jones vs. Genevieve 2009 vs. Prom 1997 vs. Julee 1995.
The high hair: Helena Bonham Carter vs. Rowan's date.
(Photos via Associated Press and rowanf via Flickr.)