Disaster season and the hottest trend in prom fashion : It's Been a Minute Summer is supposed to be for vacation and more relaxation, right? Well, for climate watchers, this season goes by a more sinister name. Brittany and NPR climate correspondents Lauren Sommer and Nate Rott get into what changes in summer weather mean for how and where we live.

Then, it's prom season and high schoolers are showing out! But styles have changed since the days of poofy dresses and bedazzled purses: prom fashion has reportedly become more adult. For many young people, prom reflects their ideas of glamour, so does this shift say something new about the fantasies of girlhood? Brittany sits down with writer Hilary George-Parkin who wrote about the blurring of age in fashion.

Is it time to re-name "summer?" Plus, prom fashion is all grown up

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BRITTANY LUSE, HOST:

Hello, hello. I'm Brittany Luse, and you're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR - a show about what's going on in culture and why it doesn't happen by accident.

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LUSE: This week, we're connecting the dots between summer vacation, severe weather and homeownership. I know, I know - how are all these things connected? Well, we're going to find out with NPR's climate correspondents Lauren Sommer and Nate Rott. Lauren, Nate - welcome to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Hi, there.

NATE ROTT, BYLINE: Hey. Thanks for having us.

LUSE: I'm sure, as climate correspondents, you get this lot, but I feel compelled to ask - how is the weather where you are?

ROTT: Oof. I'm in Ventura, Calif., and it is what we call May Gray...

LUSE: Ew.

ROTT: ...And it's just kind of, like, damp and cold and definitely does not feel like summer - but I live in Southern California, so I'm not one to complain.

LUSE: (Laughter) Fair enough.

SOMMER: I'm in NorCal, yeah, the Bay Area, but it is actually very hot here and not foggy, for once.

LUSE: Wow. Congratulations on not having any fog. That seems like it controls (laughter) a lot of your area.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: Now, this is a culture show, and weather actually does determine a lot of our culture. It's a really present tone-setter - it can make a day, ruin a day; it can determine a lot of what we can do and how we organize our lives, and it also has huge consequences. Over Memorial Day weekend, we know of at least 23 people who died in severe storms across the American South. We're talking about deadly tornadoes and lightning storms that took out power for hundreds of thousands of people. There were huge delays at airports across the northeast; people were stranded for hours or days, far away from home. This is all happening at a time when forecasters are predicting a summer with increasingly severe weather. Lauren, Nate - when we were preparing for this conversation, you both casually referred to this season as disaster season, and I mean, it rolled off your tongues, because I take it you use the term a lot when describing the months we're about to head into. When did that change happen for you, from talking about summer as just summer to thinking about it as disaster season?

ROTT: You know, before I even started at NPR, I worked as a wildland firefighter, and, you know, summer is fire season. And then when I started at NPR, you just find, oh, summer months is like, cool - you know, like, I want to plan my vacation, my buddy's getting married, there's all these...

LUSE: Right.

ROTT: ...Things happening you want to go do, but the reality is hurricanes happen in the summer, wildfires happen in the summer, heat waves happen in the summer, and so, you know, whatever plans you have are like to be disrupted. I don't know - Lauren, I didn't poison you with that idea - right? - of disaster season?

LUSE: (Laughter).

ROTT: You've thought that forever, right?

SOMMER: Yeah. We plan our lives for busy summers on the climate team (laughter) at NPR.

ROTT: (Laughter).

SOMMER: You'd think we wouldn't be surprised - right? - as climate reporters. We follow this stuff really closely, but, like, the federal forecasters just came out with the hurricane forecast for this coming year. They expect it to be the most active on record, 17-25 named storms. Like, you know how storms get names during the really big storms?

LUSE: Right.

SOMMER: So the ocean's really hot right now, and that's what helps fuel hurricanes, right? Hot Atlantic - big, destructive storms. You know, you'd think we'd be prepared, and, like, I think we're still kind of just thrown back every year at just how much more extreme it is getting year to year.

LUSE: If I step back and think about, quote-unquote, "disaster season," you know, as a description, it makes sense - we're talking about the months that, as you both have mentioned, we're seeing severe flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, extreme heat, and we know that these types of weather events are becoming more costly, and quite literally. Nate, I know you've done a lot of reporting on how this has impacted homeowners' insurance.

ROTT: For sure.

LUSE: It's getting harder and harder to get that kind of insurance, not just in places like California and Florida, but also in places like Iowa or Utah. How has extreme weather caused by climate change upended the insurance industry?

ROTT: So let me give you the short answer - right? - which is that, like, risks for insurance companies are now outweighing the potential profits in a lot of places.

LUSE: Jesus.

ROTT: So, you know, if you think about how insurance works - right? - you know, you and I and Lauren and a bunch of other people, we pay premiums to an insurer for a house every month - right? - so that if something ever happens to my house or your house or Lauren's house, basically, the insurance company has money to then pay to help cover that loss. So the problem is, in some parts of the country - like where we are in California, like in Florida and other, kind of, very climate-vulnerable states, they're seeing so many losses that it's outweighing the money that these insurance companies are taking in, or, you know, if that's not the case now, their models are telling them that it could happen soon. So that's why insurance costs are going up for everybody in the country, right? Virtually everywhere, you're seeing insurance prices go up, because the insurance companies are trying to cover their butts, basically - right? - and make sure that they have enough money to cover for payouts, and that's why you're also seeing them just straight up get out of marketplaces.

LUSE: If you want a mortgage, you have to have insurance, right?

ROTT: Totally.

LUSE: OK, so the thing that I'm wondering is, like, does that just mean that in the near future, more and more people are going to be unable to purchase a home? I mean, we're already in a housing crisis. How does this add to that?

ROTT: I mean, it could totally make it worse, yeah. You know, there's two things that happen, right? You could be a person that owns a house, and then all of a sudden, you're what they call home poor, right? You have a nice house, but you can't insure that house, so really, what you're doing is you're sitting on a huge liability. I remember in Hurricane Harvey talking to people in Houston who had inherited their house from their parents, who had inherited it from their parents, and all of a sudden, they're looking at this as, like, not this cool, awesome nest for their family over generations, but just - it was becoming this giant liability. And yeah, I mean, if you're a first-time home buyer, if you want to buy a house and you can't get insurance on your house, no lender is going to be like, yeah, dude, take all this money. We'll lend you a bunch of money on this thing that you can't insure. So it does make the entryway into home ownership potentially a lot harder.

SOMMER: But yeah, as you said, there's a housing shortage in a lot of parts of the country, right?

LUSE: Right.

SOMMER: Like, there's just not enough housing for people who need it, and so it's really a tough question for communities about building housing, too, right? We need more housing. Where do you put it? And in a lot of places, it might be somewhere that's probably going to burn at some point, or maybe it's near the coast and there's sea-level rise and there's flooding, or there's a place where there's hurricanes. And so we see a lot of debates happening in local communities right now which are just like, OK, well, a lot of this housing was built when we didn't know or maybe didn't quite understand how bad the risks are. Now we know. Is it OK to build housing if people are going to be at risk in those places? City council meetings get so heated over this, with people saying, like, I want my kids to be able to live here - like, it's really important to me.

LUSE: Gosh.

SOMMER: On the flip side, saying, like, you can't put people here - the houses might burn down. You know, like, what's the amount of risk that we're willing to take? Because that's a really tough push and pull between that risk and keeping a community together, keeping that community growing. You know, elected leaders - they don't get elected, usually, saying, like, I don't want this community to grow, so it's a really tough local decision, and it is a local decision.

LUSE: Thinking about the future, there are already so many people who have set down their roots in places where climate change is already impacting them - in some cases, severely and in life-altering ways. These people can't just up and leave their homes, but it can be difficult to insure their properties. How are we going to adapt to this future?

ROTT: Man, if I had the answer to that, I would not be working for public radio.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: You would have sold it, and you'd be sitting on a pile of money.

ROTT: Yeah. I'd be buying houses with all cash. Yeah, exactly.

LUSE: (Laughter).

ROTT: No, I mean, like, look - there are ways to adapt - right? - and we're seeing that in a lot of places. So, like, in the West, right, and in - and frankly, not just in the West - I think we forget that wildfires are normal all over the country.

LUSE: Oh, trust me - I had orange sky and I was breathing in smoke last summer in New York, so you're absolutely right.

ROTT: Totally, yeah. So, I mean, like, look - with fire, it's like virtually every community in the country has something called defensible space planning, which is just, like, I'm going to figure out a way to take vegetation away from my house. I'm going to make sure that my wood deck on the back of my house doesn't have a propane tank sitting under it, right (laughter)? Like, little things that you can do - change the type of roof on your house - that actually do make a really big difference if you are in a situation where a fire is approaching.

SOMMER: Yeah. And it's interesting that in California, there are a handful of insurance companies that are giving you a small break on your premiums if you do prepare for wildfires, so they're starting to try to incentivize this type of preparation, but a lot of it's not stuff we would consider super - maybe I'll try to convince you it's very sexy.

LUSE: (Laughter).

SOMMER: It's stuff like building codes. It's stuff like wastewater systems. This isn't stuff we usually think about, all this infrastructure, but building codes really matter when you want a roof that doesn't blow off in a hurricane, right? Or flooding is a huge issue. I mean, that was - what? - 2021, when that remnant of Hurricane Ida kind of came through New York...

LUSE: Yes.

SOMMER: ...And New Jersey. There was horrible flooding, right?

LUSE: We're not prepared (laughter). I don't think it's...

ROTT: (Laughter).

LUSE: ...Going out on a limb to say that New York City, or even the tri-state area, is particularly prepared to deal with that kind of very fast flooding.

SOMMER: Yeah. And it's not people that live right next to the water, right?

LUSE: Yeah.

SOMMER: It was just rain.

LUSE: Yeah.

SOMMER: It was rainfall, and that just points to kind of this, like, very basic issue, which is rainstorms are getting more intense; they're dumping more water. When that water hits concrete, it's got to go somewhere...

LUSE: Yeah.

SOMMER: ...And it needs to go in the storm drains; it needs to drain away, and that infrastructure just isn't able to handle all that water. That's why you saw water in the streets; that's why it was flooding basement apartments, where some people lost their lives, and so there's an upgrading that needs to happen, right? We need to be able to handle all this water, and that's just the infrastructure. That's your storm drains, that's your wastewater treatment stuff. And so it's not sexy, but this is the stuff that really matters to people's lives.

LUSE: I know you said it's unsexy, Lauren, but living in New York, I'm like, I actually would find new wastewater systems extremely sexy...

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LUSE: ...Because street water is not sexy to me at all.

ROTT: And Brittany, I think one important thing that we could say, there's one very clear, shining, obvious answer here about how we can adapt - we could stop burning fossil fuels at the rate we are and contributing to the problem. It's happening, it's here, it's going to get worse, but the amount it's going to get worse really depends on the actions that we take today.

LUSE: Huh.

ROTT: The future is not set in stone here.

SOMMER: It's a "Choose Your Own Adventure," but, like, not in a fun way at all.

(LAUGHTER)

ROTT: R.L. Stine didn't write this book.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: And yet, I still have goosebumps.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: Lauren, Nate - I have learned so much here. Thank you both so much.

SOMMER: Thanks so much.

ROTT: Yeah, sorry to be your doomsayers that climate change is real; pay attention to it.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: And as a thank you to both of you, I'd like to teach you something...

ROTT: Oh.

LUSE: ...By playing a game with you all. Can you stick around for a tiny bit longer?

ROTT: Heck yeah.

SOMMER: All right.

LUSE: All right, enthusiasm - we love it. We'll be right back with a little game I like to call, But Did You Know? Stick around.

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LUSE: All right, all right - we're going to play a little game I like to call But Did You Know?

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LUSE: Here's how it works - I'm going to share a story that's been making headlines this week, and as I give you some background on the story, I'll also ask you trivia related to it. But don't worry - it's all multiple choice, and the first one to blurt out the right answer gets a point. Person with the most points wins, and their prize is bragging rights, as I say every week.

ROTT: I'll take whatever I can get.

LUSE: Are y'all ready?

ROTT: Yeah. Let's do it.

SOMMER: Yeah.

LUSE: OK. All right - here we go. Maybe it's a plague, maybe it's a miracle of nature, but no matter how you look at it, cicada broods...

ROTT: Oh.

LUSE: ...19 and 12 are emerging all over the southeast and the Midwest. They're inescapable - literally, they're all over the place in these regions. How many cicadas are expected to appear out of the ground - 'cause they live in the ground; they come out of the ground; that's freaky, but how many cicadas are expected to appear out of the ground this year? Is it more than...

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LUSE: ...A - one billion, with a B, B - 500 billion, with a B, or C - one trillion, with a T.

ROTT: I'm going to go B, 500 billion.

SOMMER: I'm going to go A, going conservative.

LUSE: Well (laughter), you're both wrong.

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SOMMER: Oh.

LUSE: The answer is...

ROTT: It's a trillion? (Laughter).

LUSE: ...C - one trillion, with a T.

SOMMER: That's terrifying.

LUSE: Exactly.

SOMMER: I mean, amazing.

LUSE: I know, but terrifying.

ROTT: I can't even comprehend that.

LUSE: I can't, either.

ROTT: You know, when it gets to a trillion, it's all just zeros.

LUSE: Yes, exactly. More than a trillion cicadas will emerge, and to put this in perspective, it's commonly accepted by entomologists that there's an estimated one million cicadas per acre. I repeat - one million per acre.

ROTT: It's like zombie apocalypse in an insect form kind of thing, you know?

LUSE: (Laughter).

SOMMER: You got to respect the cicadas, though. You got to respect them.

ROTT: Yeah.

LUSE: I know - irrepressible. I'm like, I wish I had that kind of persistence; that kind of energy; that kind of consistency; that follow-through to come back when I say I'm coming back.

ROTT: (Laughter).

LUSE: OK. All right. So like I said, the broods emerging this year are broods 19 and 12, and it has been a long time since these two broods emerged at the same time. Who was the president the last time these two broods converged?

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LUSE: Was it A - Woodrow Wilson, B - Abraham Lincoln, or C - Thomas Jefferson? Who is it?

SOMMER: I'm taking Jefferson on this one.

ROTT: Let's go Honest Abe, you know? He never led us astray.

LUSE: Well, the answer - Lauren, you're in luck - is C, Thomas Jefferson.

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ROTT: Aw (laughter).

LUSE: This will be the first time in 221 years that these two broods converged - and for those of you worrying about these trillions of bugs, it won't happen again until 2244, so unless you've got cryogenic-freezing money, I think you're safe.

SOMMER: Maybe not from the oceans, which will have risen by then.

(LAUGHTER)

ROTT: Yeah.

LUSE: Maybe not from the oceans, true. All right - to recap the score, Lauren, you're at one point; Nate, you're at a whopping zero points.

ROTT: Zero.

LUSE: Without further ado, it's time for that final question. This one is winner takes all, 'cause we don't do tie breakers around here. We just finish.

ROTT: Give the crown. I get it.

LUSE: Choose your player. All right - there are two types of cicadas - annual and periodical. Both of the broods emerging this year are periodical, meaning they emerge every 13 or 17 years. You probably already knew that.

ROTT: Totally, yep.

LUSE: But do you know the main way to tell annual and periodical cicadas apart? Is it...

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LUSE: ...A - the buzzing of their wings, B - the color of their eyes - I hope I never get close enough to one to know the color of their eyes - or C - the length of their bodies?

ROTT: I don't know why, but I want to say it's the color of their eyes.

SOMMER: It's the body - the body thing.

ROTT: Yeah, morphologically, that makes more sense.

LUSE: All right - Lauren says C. Well, Nate, coming up from behind, the answer is B...

SOMMER: Oh.

LUSE: ...The color of their eyes.

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ROTT: Woo.

LUSE: Periodical cicadas have beady, little, red eyes; annual cicadas have black eyes. And that's news you can use the next time you're picking up a cicada.

ROTT: Crunch, crunch (laughter).

LUSE: Crunch, crunch. I'm actually glad you said crunch, crunch, 'cause for those who don't know, cicadas are edible, actually, but they do belong to the shellfish family, so if you're allergic to shellfish...

ROTT: Don't go picking up cicadas and eating them.

LUSE: ...Don't go eating them, but they are eaten in different parts of the world.

ROTT: Would you eat a cicada burger?

LUSE: A burger? No. I wouldn't want to eat them crushed up into little pieces in a patty. However, I would eat them, like, on a stick - you know what I mean? Like, a little seasoning on them, maybe a little hot sauce...

ROTT: Yeah.

LUSE: ...A little spice on them.

ROTT: Cicada kebab.

SOMMER: I feel like I would try anything once, you know? Why not?

LUSE: That is it for But Did You Know? for this week. Congratulations to Nate on your win.

ROTT: Woo.

LUSE: There you go.

SOMMER: I mean, that was a tie. Come on.

(LAUGHTER)

LUSE: Nate, Lauren - thank you so much for joining me today. This has been a blast.

ROTT: Yeah, thank you.

SOMMER: Yeah, thank you.

LUSE: That was NPR's Nate Rott and Lauren Sommer. I'm going to take a quick break, and when I get back, it's prom season. I'm getting into the fashion of high school's biggest night of the year.

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LUSE: Stick around.

My big question this week is, what can changes in prom fashion tell us about what being a teen looks like today?

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LUSE: It's prom season. And even though my prom was nearly 20 years ago and I have no desire to go back, I still love seeing the fun looks every year on social media. Not everyone goes to prom, but it's got this place in our culture as a rite of passage - a chance to get dressed up and act a little more grown-up for a night. And there's definitely a trope for what a capital-D dress should look like on this momentous occasion.

HILARY GEORGE-PARKIN: Shiny taffeta, big, bedazzled moments - got ruffles. You've got shimmer. You've got this big, like, razzle-dazzle moment.

LUSE: That's Hilary George-Parkin. She's a freelance writer with a focus on fashion and retail. And Hilary, she started to notice something. This stereotypical dress is not really what the teens are wearing anymore.

GEORGE-PARKIN: You know, the prom dress trends are mirroring adult trends in a lot of ways. In some cases, adults are wearing the exact same dresses.

LUSE: So Hilary talked to teens and wrote an article about all this. And she found the prom dress' makeover is not just due to preferences, and the change in teen style goes beyond prom. The whole ecosystem of teen fashion is falling apart. To find out why, I sat down with Hilary to hear more about what the adultification of the prom dress says about the blurring of age and fashion.

Hilary, welcome to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Thanks for having me.

LUSE: My pleasure, my pleasure. OK. So can I hear about what you wore to prom?

GEORGE-PARKIN: My prom dress was a lot like the prom dresses that I talk about in this article, which is to say...

(LAUGHTER)

GEORGE-PARKIN: ...It was quite casual. It was, like, a pale blue, cotton halter dress.

LUSE: Cute.

GEORGE-PARKIN: It's a nice color. Most of my generation - and certainly, my, like, friend group - I remember was like, Jessica McClintock...

LUSE: Oh, yes.

GEORGE-PARKIN: ...Strapless. It was poofy.

LUSE: Yes.

GEORGE-PARKIN: There were gemstones, which I love. Like, I remember looking back on the - I was like, oh, those are great dresses. At the time, I was - I loved them. Mine was a little bit simpler than that. But definitely, I was of the poofy, bedazzled era.

LUSE: What year was it you went to prom?

GEORGE-PARKIN: 2007.

LUSE: Oh, OK. OK. I went in 2005. My younger sister went in 2007. She had, like, a slightly poofy - like, pale yellow with polka dots. But we're talking about prom dresses because you wrote an article about prom dress trends this year. What are you seeing in prom styles?

GEORGE-PARKIN: Yeah. So I think in general, the styles we're seeing are quite adult, which can look like many different things. There are popular prom dresses today that are coming from brands that generally do bridesmaid dresses. And there are others that look like something you might see on the red carpet. On the one side, kind of that simpler, more casual - a lot of floral prints - garden party look. On the other, this kind of slinky, sexy type of style. And both of those not being kind of traditionally teen looks.

LUSE: So for your article, you talked to a bunch of teen girls. What was the image they wanted to achieve for their big night?

GEORGE-PARKIN: So I think one thing that these teens are prioritizing is kind of a longevity to their prom dress, something that they aren't going to look back on and be like, oh, I regret wearing that. I talked to one 18-year-old from Illinois, Grace (ph), and she specifically said that she didn't want something to scream prom. So...

LUSE: Huh.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Yeah. She found a dress that she loved on Pinterest, which was a common theme I heard - Pinterest being very big with the teens. Yeah. She thought it looked classic and beautiful. I think what she was saying that she wanted it to express about her was an element of individuality and a truthfulness to her personal style.

LUSE: It's interesting to me that Grace didn't want her dress to scream prom or that there was this desire to come off as, like, more mature or composed. I mean, in my opinion, you know, based on my own experiences, teens have long wanted to seem more adult-like. And so it makes sense to a certain degree, to me, that we would see that reflected in prom styles. I wonder, in what ways is this trend toward more adult-like prom dresses old, and in what ways is this new?

GEORGE-PARKIN: What's different now, I think, is the access in general that teenagers have to the same influences, images and retailers, in many cases, as adults. So whereas I was pouring through Teen Vogue as a 16-year-old...

LUSE: Right.

GEORGE-PARKIN: ...They're on Pinterest. So on Pinterest, this dress comes up. It's decontextualized from where it's come from, what it is, which is a brand that largely does bridesmaid dresses. They're just seeing it as, oh, I love this dress. And it's maybe gone viral amongst teens who are into fashion on this platform and also amongst adults who are into fashion on this platform. So the influences are coming from different places. So it might be an influencer in their 30s who a 17-year-old follows...

LUSE: Right.

GEORGE-PARKIN: ...And a 20-something follows and a 40-something-year-old follows. Like, there's an element of flattening across age boundaries.

LUSE: Yeah. Even beyond prom, it seems like the way teens take in any fashion content now is totally different. Like, teen magazines have taken huge hits. Many of them don't exist anymore or exist mostly online. How has the collapse of teen style media also collapsed what's aspirational for women of all ages?

GEORGE-PARKIN: Yeah. I think - I don't know what women in their 30s were up to necessarily in 2005, but I think probably they paid less attention to what teenagers were wearing and doing.

LUSE: (Laughter).

GEORGE-PARKIN: It's a hypothesis.

LUSE: That's probably true.

GEORGE-PARKIN: So I'm sure I know more about what some 18-year-olds are wearing because they are being fed to me by these platforms. Like, I am seeing images of influencers of all ages who are often dressed in very similar ways. A lot of the trends that have come up - in the past few years, especially - have been quite youthful, have been quite girlish, really - the bows, the coquette core. There's hyperfeminine ruffles. And even beyond fashion with - stuffed animals are super popular amongst adults.

LUSE: Yeah.

GEORGE-PARKIN: I think there's kind of a breakdown of the boundaries between age groups and especially when we are not necessarily dressing up for the office every day or your office is open to jeans and a crop top. It changes what we used to think of this is an adult outfit, like, this is what I'm going to wear when I'm a grown-up.

LUSE: That's so interesting because it's so different from how you and I grew up and how, you know, many other people grew up experiencing teen fashion. But there have also been a ton of changes in retail that might contribute to this flattening. Like, a bunch of retailers that cater to teens and young girls, like Justice, Rue21, Wet Seal, Delia's, Forever 21. I mean, they've all either closed shop or filed for bankruptcy in the past decade or so. So clearly, this isn't just about prom. This seems like it's about how teens shop in general.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Yeah, absolutely. The retail landscape has changed a ton for teens. There used to be a huge category of stores that specifically catered to teens that now just don't exist. And department stores, too. I mean, that was a big place to go and get a prom dress.

LUSE: Juniors departments. Misses.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Misses. The misses, yes.

LUSE: I remember my older sister going to a misses department, too, after she aged out of juniors. But yeah, a lot of brick-and-mortar department stores that have those specialized departments have closed stores along with the teen stores. And I kind of wonder, like, is it like a chicken and egg thing or something like that? You know, like, are the teens responding to the market around them, or is the market responding to the teens? I don't know.

GEORGE-PARKIN: I think it's a bit of both. I think as teens have access to more options outside of the stores and media outlets that are specifically catering to them, they're naturally going to look around and experiment and find new places they want to shop and new things they want to read. And at the same time, the fact that these stores then don't have as much traffic, they don't command the same market share, they are less influential, then they start to not have the cool things. They're not the places you want to necessarily go. Then that drives even more teens away. Then they start to close. And so then it's kind of this loop that keeps going.

LUSE: You know, we didn't always have a separate category for teen style. I mean, the idea of teenagers was invented. It was an invented idea, and it was only invented less than 100 years ago. And it was really useful as an advertising category. Did that happen?

GEORGE-PARKIN: It was related to more and more Americans going to and graduating from high school rather than entering the workforce right away. And they had unique culture. They had unique buying patterns. They would be advertised to in a specific way. And so teenagers were a unique category in a way that they weren't before that.

LUSE: Of course, teenagers still have their own specific buying patterns, but at least from a fashion standpoint, it seems to kind of have dissipated somewhat as a distinct section along with, you know, the teen magazines. And I have been wondering if there's been some cultural loss there. I don't want to tell teen girls what they should or shouldn't do or what they or shouldn't want to look like. I feel like they get enough of that already. But I do feel like being an awkward adolescent is, like, an important experience. Like, I went to my prom in 2005. You know, we didn't have makeup tutorials and things like that.

And I do cringe when I look back at photos because I had no clue what to do with my hair or my makeup at all, or my clothes at all. But also, societally, I don't think I was expected to, you know? But today - I mean, again, this is outsider looking in - it feels to me like because of all the tutorials and the products and the editing apps, because all of that stuff is available to teens now, it feels like it's also come with this expectation that, like the rest of us, that they're supposed to be polished and supposed to be put together. And it just feels like a missed opportunity for experiencing what it's like to have the space to be cringe.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Yeah, yeah. There is way more - it's not necessarily that more people are looking at them or that, you know, people do have these expectations, but more of a feeling that people do because they're seeing teens their own age on social media and adults on social media as well who are put together, who do have a particular style, who do have that kind of polish. And so there is then that kind of internalized expectation of, like, I have to live up to that. I should be wearing those clothes. I should be doing my makeup like that. The accessibility of makeup tutorials, I think is a game changer. Really, they have ways to learn that just were never there before. You couldn't do that from a book.

LUSE: No, couldn't do that from a book. But you know what, though? Fortunately, back then, also the pixelated digital cameras.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Oh, yeah.

LUSE: I mean, they were really not (laughter)...

GEORGE-PARKIN: They were very generous.

LUSE: They couldn't pick up - yeah, they were very - they couldn't pick up on the details. So I'm like, too much bronzer? No problem.

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LUSE: Hilary, thank you so much for coming on today and talking with me about prom style. So much fun.

GEORGE-PARKIN: Thank you.

LUSE: Thanks again to Hilary George-Parkin. You can find her article on prom fashion in The Atlantic.

This episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by...

BARTON GIRDWOOD, BYLINE: Barton Girdwood.

ALEXIS WILLIAMS, BYLINE: Alexis Williams.

LIAM MCBAIN, BYLINE: Liam McBain.

COREY ANTONIO ROSE, BYLINE: Corey Antonio Rose.

LUSE: This episode was edited by...

JESSICA PLACZEK, BYLINE: Jessica Placzek.

SARA SARASOHN, BYLINE: Sara Sarasohn.

LUSE: Engineering support came from...

KWESI LEE, BYLINE: Kwesi Lee.

LUSE: We had fact-checking help from...

ZAZIL DAVIS-VAZQUEZ, BYLINE: Zazil Davis-Vazquez.

LUSE: Our executive producer is...

VERALYN WILLIAMS, BYLINE: Veralyn Williams.

LUSE: Our VP of programming is...

YOLANDA SANGWENI, BYLINE: Yolanda Sangweni.

LUSE: All right. That's all for this episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Brittany Luse. Talk soon.

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