Whether they became famous when they were just teenagers or once they had already become adults, many celebrities have one thing in common — they still went to prom. Sure, a celeb who was already famous likely had a bit more of a budget to get that gown, but they still wanted the normal high school experience of getting all dressed up and heading to prom with their friends. It's a rite of passage.
Now, unlike for red carpet events where most celebrities have a team of stylists working on their gown, hair, make-up, and everything about the look to ensure that they slay on the red carpet, for prom, celebrities are nearly always left to their own devices. Sure, they may call upon a hair dresser to help get a stunning hairstyle, but they don't have a full glam squad at their beck and call. Not to mention, many celebrities went to prom in a different time when fashion was, well, let's just say interesting.
So, if you ever find yourself thinking that celebs must have been born glamorous, just take a look at their prom photos — most of them didn't quite have it as figured out as they seem to on the red carpet, as these 17 celeb outfits suggest.
17 Jessica Alba looking way less glamorous than you may have assumed she would
To be honest, when we envisioned what kind of look Jessica Alba had for prom, we were thinking full on bombshell — a figure-hugging gown that showed off her curves, loose, flowing locks, and a bit of a smoky eye situation. Instead, she looks like, well, a teen still trying to figure out her sense of style. The updo with the wispy curls framing her face is oh-so-90s/00s, complete with a little hair accessory to add some sparkle. And the gown — from the little white puffy accents around the neckline to the princess-style of it all, it's not exactly what we would have imagined she picked. However, one thing is for sure — you can tell by that gorgeous smile that she's destined for stardom — I mean, if you switch out the outfit, that face could be in a magazine spread.
16 Ellen DeGeneres with a totally retro throwback prom shot
Oh, Ellen. The comedian turned daytime television host has developed a really specific and incredible sense of style since reaching stardom — she's almost never seen without a well-cut suit or similar outfit, because that's what she feels confident in and what works for her. She's not really the gown type. However, back when she was attending prom, she just went with the type of thing everyone else was wearing — which during that time, apparently, meant a plaid gown. Between the crazy hair, the chunky platform shoes, the tie-waist adding a bit of sass to the otherwise conservative outfit, we don't really know where to look. Ellen definitely experienced a bit of a glow up once she discovered who she truly was and found a look that worked for her personally.
15 Gigi Hadid, whose prom dress is so chic she could wear it on the red carpet today
Okay, Gigi Hadid has a bit of an advantage, given that she went to prom super recently, and she's grown up incredibly wealthy. When it came time for prom prep, she wasn't searching the discount rack for her gown and doing her own hair and make-up in her suburban home's bathroom like many of the celebrities likely were — she probably had a full style squad to prepare her. Even so, though, it's incredible how much her look holds up — she could easily step out in this exact outfit at any red carpet event today and no one would even blink. She looks chic, the punch of red gives her a dose of boldness, and she looks utterly gorgeous. I mean, this woman basically cannot take a bad picture — it's just not fair.
14 Karlie Kloss, who looked like, well, a fierce supermodel
Supermodels kind of have an unfair advantage when it comes to clothing — after all, their long, lean physiques are basically built to showcase clothes. They look fantastic in just about anything, which is why designers pick them to strut their stuff down the runway and put on couture pieces for magazine spreads. When it came to choosing her prom outfit, Karlie Kloss didn't want to go simple with an understated designer gown. She wanted to go full on prom glam — so she picked a red dress with a bit of a plunging neckline and beading details, and she looks fabulous. However, she paired it with a classic corsage and a sassy top hat for this photo because, hey, it's prom — why not have little fun with things and enjoy yourself?
13 Blake Lively, whose sparkly pink gown makes her look like a legit Disney princess
When it comes to red carpet looks, Blake Lively is without question one of the queens. Somehow, she always manages to look utterly stunning, from her choice of her gown to her hair and make-up look — and she never looks overdone or like someone other than herself. It's a rare skill. It seems that was something she's developed over her years in Hollywood, though, because in this shot from her prom, she just looks like a normal, cute blonde teen. She went for the full on pink sequinned Princess gown — albeit one that showed off her curves — and pulled her enviable blonde locks into an updo. She finished off the look for this shot by perching a teeny tiara atop her head because, again — why not have fun with it?
12 Demi Lovato, who is totally feeling herself in her prom shots
When Demi Lovato's prom rolled around, she was a full-blown celebrity — at that point, she had been in the entertainment industry for years, and had even had her own show. However, she had promised back in the day to attend prom with her high school bestie, so that's exactly what she did. Sure, she may have had a bit of a bigger budget when it comes to her gown thanks to all that Disney money — but otherwise, as this silly photo indicates, it seems she had the same fun prom experience that other high school students had. And honestly, Demi could probably rock this same dress on the red carpet today — it looks absolutely stunning, from the cut that flatters her curvy physique to the colour that totally pops against her skin and brunette locks.
11 Lady Gaga basically looking like a bride
Lady Gaga has become so known for her utterly out there style choice that it can be hard to remember she was once just a regular teen growing up in New York City. Before she became Gaga, she was just a girl heading to prom with her friends — and this look isn't exactly what we were expecting. I mean, she looks totally gorgeous, but we would have assumed she'd be rocking something with an eye-catching colour or an extreme architectural cut that drew everyone's attention. Particularly in comparison to some of her performance and red carpet outfits to come, this look seems really tame — and we didn't know anyone still went for the full-on gloves for prom. Perhaps she was making a style statement with her slightly retro look? Who knows — but she looks fantastic regardless.
10 Britney Spears, who went for a glam red look
Britney Spears is another one of those celebrities who was already super famous by the time her prom rolled around — but that doesn't mean this southern belle was going to deprive herself of the prom experience! Who cares if you have a collection of chart-topping hits if you miss that high school rite of passage, right? For her prom look, Britney didn't steal any of her performing outfits, as we would have assumed. Instead, she opted for a red dress with a fairly simple silhouette and beading detail on the torso. She looks super cute, although honestly, the woman could look amazing in just about anything. We just hope the dress allowed her to bust a move on the dance floor — you know she had killer dance moves from those years of learning choreography.
9 Two celebs for the price of one — Danielle Fishel and Lance Bass went together
Danielle Fishel and Lance Bass were in two different industries — Fishel was an actress who got her start at a very young age on Boy Meets World, while Lance Bass was tearing up the pop charts as a member of NSYNC. However, they were both teens dealing with fame, and apparently formed a friendship — at least, enough that they went to prom together! Lance looks oh so 90s with his spiked, bleached blonde hair, and Danielle looks stunning — although that white dress with the high slit on the side and exposed back is a far more risque look than we would have assumed she's rock! Hey, Topanga was always someone who marched to the beat of her own drum — it seems she inspired Danielle's fashion choice for prom, and it's a fabulous one.
8 Rihanna slaying, even back in the day
Okay, we're pretty sure Rihanna was just born slaying, and has kept it up ever since, because how on earth does she look this amazing at prom when so many people look utterly cringeworthy? RiRi got her first taste of fame as a teenager looking to make a splash on the pop charts, but she still had a normal prom experience. With her daring blue gown, sleek hairstyle, perfect accessories and chic make-up, though, this is a look that Rihanna could easily wear on the red carpet today — proof that she's always been insanely stylish. Now the only question is, did this guy realize how insanely lucky he was to take Rihanna to prom? We hope he has this picture framed somewhere because that's pretty incredible — and we hope she brings this dress back out to wear sometime, because she looks gorgeous.
7 Beyonce showing a little skin with circular peekaboo cut-outs
We're not sure if Beyonce got this gown off the rack or if this was another one of Mama Tina Knowles' creations, but one thing is for sure — the woman basically always looks amazing, even in a slightly questionable outfit. The halter neck dress with a high slit, circular cut-outs on her torso, and a crazy circular print overall is a bit strange, but she's Beyonce, so you know she can pull off literally anything. Her hair and make-up look definitely screams 90s, but she pulls it off — after all, Bey was a seasoned vet at this point who had been performing for years. Now, the only question is, did her high school ask her to take the stage and perform at some point during the dance? I mean, they had a star in their midst.
6 Courteney Cox looking like an entirely different person
With celebs who are a little bit older, it's always surprising to see how they looked back in the day, because many of them seem to be almost aging backwards. Thanks to the questionable fashion choices of earlier decades, and the glam squad they have to keep them looking young today, they often look better at 40 or 50 than they did at 18 — that just shows the power of the right look. Courteney Cox — or CeCe Cox, as she was apparently called back then — has a stunning face in this photo that you can totally tell is her. The outfit, though? It's... well, unique. The dress kind of looks something you'd imagine her mother would have worn, not something she would have picked out, and it definitely doesn't show off her petite frame very well.
5 Michelle Obama rocking a fierce gold prom dress
Michelle Obama is fiercely intelligent, so we have to admit, we kind of imagined her prom photo would be her looking like a little bit of a nerd. After all, even though she's never been anything other than chic in her later years, she was always focused on academics back then. However, as this photo proves, she was serving up some major glam even back in the day. I mean, can we talk about the insane amount of leg she's serving up in this look, thanks to that side slit? The way that gold colour has a super luxe sheen and just pops against her lovely skin? If Barack would have gone to her high school, we bet he'd have fallen in love with her right then and there — this is the look of a confident, powerful woman.
4 Taylor Swift in a simple white sheath, looking more bridal than high school
By the time her prom rolled around, Taylor Swift had already been performing on stage for years — and given her love of sparkly dresses back during that period of her life, she likely had hundreds of options to pick from when it came time to choose her outfit for prom. However, she didn't want to feel like she was on stage, it seems — she wanted to go for an entirely different look, so she selected a simple white satin dress that looks a little more bridal than prom queen. It just goes to show what a style evolution she's gone through in the past decade — we can barely recognize the soft, romantic curls and teen T-Swift. She looks like a completely different person today, although equally gorgeous. We do wish she would have found a dress that didn't pucker like that in the front, though!
3 Hollywood sweetheart Sandra Bullock in a super cute braids and white dress combo
Honestly, if you asked us to envision Sandra Bullock's prom dress, we would have had no clue where to start. She always looks fantastic on the red carpet, but she doesn't really have the same specifically defined style that many other starlets have — she just picks dresses that look fantastic on her. For prom, rather than letting her hair flow loose, she went for a cute braided style (proof that all trends eventually circle back around, even braids), and for what looks like a fairly simple dress in a pale colour. We're obsessed with this photo because, unlike many other celebs who have prom shots of them looking awkward standing beside their date for the camera, Sandra seems to be having a ton of fun here — and isn't that what prom is all about?
2 Meryl Streep living her best life in a fun, short dress and tiara
Meryl Streep is a bit of an enigma — and we're totally here for her sassy prom look. First of all, unlike the majority of women who go with a longer gown, Meryl was all about a short, sassy look that would show off her legs. The whole feel of the dress is retro and fun, her hair blowing in the wind is amazing, and the little tiara perched atop her head is absolutely adorable. Her date seems to be looking off in the distance somewhere, which — when you have Meryl Streep on your arm looking like a literal vision from heaven, why on earth would your eyes not be fixed right on her? At least he seems to have gotten her a massive bouquet, though — that's something. She looks totally fabulous here.
1 Ashton Kutcher proving he was a huge goof, even back in high school
Okay, after all those ladies in their gorgeous gowns, you know we had to throw in at least one guy — and this shot of Ashton Kutcher is just perfection. Now, even though there are some retro touches in celeb prom photos from way back in the day, most guys still wore some kind of suit combination — so their looks are kind of boring. However, someone captured a shot of Ashton in action at his prom, and while his outfit is fairly standard — he's lost the jacket he was likely wearing, though, in order to have a bit more freedom on the dance floor — it just goes to prove that he's always been a bit of a goofball. I mean, the guy in this photo is someone who would have been a blast to attend prom with — he's essentially starting his own dance circle!