The Most Iconic Prom Dresses In Film History

Coming of age films actually set the bar way too high for prom. No real-life high school had prom nights like in 10 Things I Hate About You or Footloose. The most realistic aspect of the senior proms portrayed by Hollywood is the dresses.

The dresses worn in some of the most memorable teen films defined generations. Prom dresses are a sign of the times and the most iconic ones can even set trends. Take a look back at the most memorable prom dresses and see which ones inspired your own senior dress.

Sandy From Grease Shined In Yellow

sandys grease prom dress yellow frilly
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

One of the quintessential high school movies also features one of the quintessential prom dresses. Sandy’s pale yellow dress perfectly encapsulated the fifties. It was also a sign for how much of a goody two-shoes she really was at the start of the film.

The dress was light, airy, and allowed her to do every fifties dance move in the book. It would have been fun to see what prom dress she might have worn after she turned edgy.

Andie DIYed Her Pretty In Pink Dress

andie DIY pink dress
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

DIYers can rejoice and find inspiration looking back at Andie’s prom dress from Pretty In Pink. She used the fabric from her manager’s old prom dress to create this new look and steals Blane’s heart.

The look is truly iconic and the dress is also a major part of the scene that capped off the entire film. Still, someone has to say it… was this ever really fashionable? Polka dots, lace, and puffy sleeves are a bit much even for the eighties.

The red makeover dress is the most memorable outfit from the next film, but do you remember the prom dress?

Laney Was All That In Her Little Black Prom Dress

shes all that black prom dress
Miramax Films/MovieStillsDB

The entire plot of She’s All That is turning dorky Laney Boggs into prom queen material. Laney wears this gorgeous sparkly black dress on the night of prom even though she no longer wanted to the dance.

We’ll admit that this sparkly LBD isn’t as iconic as the red dress she wears after he makeover but it still gets an honorable mention. The dress also gets an honorable mention because Laney actually ends up winning prom queen in it.

Footloose‘s Prom Dress Is Southern Belle At Its Best

footloose pink southern prom dress
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

The senior prom during Footloose is the climax of the film and it needed a prom dress suitable for it. Ariel, played by Lori Singer, shines as a Southern belle in her light, flowy pink dress. The flutter sleeves and forgiving fabric made for the perfect dress to get footloose in.

The cold shoulder dress is so iconic that people still buy replicas of it today. In the 2011 remake, Julianne Hough also wore a similar pink dress.

Buffy Fought Vampires In Her Prom Dress

buffy movie prom dress white
Mutant Enemy Productions/MovieStillsDB

There are two Buffy the Vampire Slayer prom dresses. One from the 1992 film worn by Kristy Swanson, and another from the television series worn by Sarah Michelle Gellar. While Gellar is generally the fan favorite version of Buffy, Swanson’s prom dress is so much more iconic.

Not only is it a perfect princess ball gown but we got to see her rip off the bottom half to fight some vampires mid-prom. If that doesn’t scream iconic prom dress, we don’t know what does.

Josie’s Original Prom Dress Was So ’80s We Had To Love It

never been kissed josies first dress
Flower Films/MovieStillsDB

Never Been Kissed follows a young reporter who goes undercover in a high school. Josie has never been in a relationship and had a relatively terrible high school experience as a teenager so in many ways, going undercover was her second chance.

In a flashback during the movie, we get to see what Josie’s original high school prom dress looked like and we’ll just say… we’d rather unsee it. The frills, puffs, and shine were all too much.

Luckily, Josie got another chance at prom and her dress reflected that.

Josie Upped Her Prom Dress Game The Second Time Around

never been kissed second prom dress
Flower Films/MovieStillsDB

For her second chance at prom, Josie went into full redemption mode with a Shakespeare-inspired gown. It might have been a little dated (we’re talking 16th century kind of dated) but somehow Drew Barrymore made the ruffled bell sleeves and taffeta gown look timeless.

Like any other good teen movie, Josie wins prom queen but sheds the title and tells the actual high school students that your persona in high school means nothing in the real world.

Sam’s Cinderella Dress Was Fit For A Cinderella Story

white ballgown cinderella story
Warner Bros./MovieStillsDB

Even though we’ll never understand how Austin Ames didn’t realize it was Sam behind that teeny tiny mask, we’ll still bow down and praise her iconic prom dress. The tulle, white ball gown was practically made for a princess. Someone similar to, say, Cinderella?

Obviously the film was trying to pay homage to the Disney fairytale with this ballgown and we’ll forever love it. The only disappointing thing was when you tried to get yourself a ball gown for your own prom and realized how much they can cost.

The next dress was the exact opposite of Sam’s Cinderella-style ballgown.

There Was Nothing To Hate About Angsty Kat’s Dress

kat prom dress
Touchstone Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Patrick (Heath Ledger) and Kat (Julia Stiles) weren’t exactly a match made in heaven especially considering the fact that he was paid at first to date her. Patrick had to practically beg Kat to go to the prom with him even though she’s adamantly against it.

Seeing Kat walk down the steps in this stunning, simply purple gown was the first time audiences—and Patrick—finally got to see a softer side of the character. The dress may have been simple but it definitely wowed.

Kat’s dress was sweet and simple, but her little sister’s set a new trend.

Bianca’s Risky Prom Dress Also Gets An Honorable Mention

biana 10 things prom dress
Touchstone Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Bianca, Kat’s younger sister in 10 Things I Hate About You, chose a riskier look. At the time the film came out, Bianca’s two-piece prom dress that showed off her belly button was a fashion moment in history. The pink, tulle skirt just added to the fun, girly attitude of the dress.

There’s no doubt that tons of girls across America showed up to prom in 1999 with a two-piece dress. The trend even came back around in 2017.

Serena Was Fashionable As Ever In Her Dress

serena gossip girl prom dress gold
CW/MovieStillsDB

Serena had plenty of iconic outfits over the six seasons of Gossip Girl. She knew the perfect way to pair preppy with formal and casual. Her sparkly nude prom dress was definitely at the top of the list when it comes to outfits.

Serena’s formal gowns didn’t always wow the viewers. Everyone would like to collectively forget that other nude, sparkly dress she wore that looked perfect for a pre-teens first school dance.

Blair’s Prom Dress Proved She’s Queen B

blair gossip girl prom black and gold
CW/MovieStillsDB

Serena might have looked stunning in her nude, sparkly prom dress but Blair took the cake and the crown home. In typical Gossip Girl fashion, Blair decided to go for a look that was a little more over-the-top than Serena. Her prom dress looked more like a garment you’d see at Paris Fashion Week.

The black ballgown featured gold peacock feathers layered in a design around the bodice and down to the hemline. With this prom dress Blair reminded us all why she’s Queen B.

Romy And Michele Were ’80s Gold At Their High School Reunion

romy and michelle original prom dress
Touchestone Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Nothing says 1980s prom like the dresses worn in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. The two characters were outcasts in high school but that didn’t stop them from channeling their inner-Madonna for their senior prom.

Michele, played by Lisa Kudrow, looked iconic with her teased hair and lace bodice dress while Romy, played by Mira Sorvino, wore a classic little black dress. The only dress more fashionable than their prom ones were the spectacular orange and pink mini-dresses worn to their 10-year reunion.

Monica And Rachel’s Throwback Prom Dresses Are All-Time Favorites

monica and rachel prom dresses
@FriendsShow/Twitter

“The One With The Prom Video” has gone down in history as one of the best Friends episodes of all time. We got to see Monica in a fat suit, Ross’ cringe-worthy mustache, and most importantly, these iconic ’80s prom dresses.

The dresses with sleeves bigger than their hair matched the characters perfectly. Rachel’s was definitely the prom dress that the most popular girl in school would wear while Monica’s was a bit more timeless and modest.

Jamie Lee Curtis Slayed In Prom Night

jamie lee curtis prom dress
Newmarket Films/MovieStillsDB

If you’ve never seen the movie Prom Night then you might wonder why the title character’s dress is so simple. Well, that’s because Jamie Lee Curtis needed a dress that she could run away from a murderous monster in without tripping over.

The slasher film has gone down in history but Curtis’ prom dress is often overlooked. Not many outfits can transition seamlessly from being crowned prom queen to killing someone with their own ax.

Back To The Future Gave Us The Perfect Vintage Dress

lea thompson pink prom dress
Universal Pictures/MovieStillsDB

Back to the Future is a bit of a mess (whoever said family incest was a good idea for a film was wrong) but one shining moment is the spring dance. While everyone usually focuses on Marty’s performance his mother Lorraine’s dress is the real star of the show.

The strapless pink gown with a poodle skirt is vintage perfection. Even though it has a fifties vibe to it the gown still managed to look modern when the film was released in 1985.

Beverly Hills 90210’s Prom Featured A Major Fashion Faux Pas

90210 prom same black and white dress
@LesinatkoLesia/Twitter

A lot of drama went down on Beverly Hills, 90210 but it was always extra dramatic. Even though the show covered topical issues like racism, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy, it also covered regular teen drama like showing up at prom wearing the same dress as someone else.

The prom dress worn by both Jennie Garth and Shannen Doherty was a beautiful back gown with a white off-the-shoulder bow. The dress, and the dramatic episode, was one of the best in the show’s history.

The Entire Pretty Little Liars Squad Was Best Dressed At The Rosewood Prom

pretty little liars crew
Freeform/MovieStillsDB

Pretty Little Liars final season featured a prom episode for the ages. While the Pretty Little Liars crew always dressed to impress they went the extra mile for prom. Spencer’s sleek, teal velvet gown showed off her sophistication. Emily’s sleek black gown showed off her athletic figure. Aria even embraced the two-piece prom dress inspired by 10 Things I Hate About You.

The only fashion problem here is Hanna’s thigh-high lace-up heeled booties that were on full display with her high-low dress.

Carrie’s Prom Dress Was Beautiful Before The Blood

carrie pink satin dress and blood covered
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/MovieStillsDB

Not only is Carrie’s simple, satin pink dress one of the most iconic in film history, but the scene is as legendary as it gets. The sheath dress meant a lot to Carrie and a lot of the film led up to her prom night.

Spoiler alert: it all went downhill after the beautiful dress was drenched in pig’s blood and Carrie started killing people left, right, and center. Hey, at least she looked good doing it.

Regina George’s Spring Fling Dance Is Just As Iconic

mean girls regina george pink dress
Paramount Pictures/MovieStillsDB

It wasn’t technically a prom but the Spring Fling at the end of Mean Girls has some of the most memorable outfits. Regina, Janice, Gretchen, and Cady were all nominated as queen and they all dressed to impress. While Janice’s purple suit and Cady’s Mathletes jacket were pretty iconic, Regina’s pink dress takes the cake.

Half of the reason why Regina’s pink dress is so memorable is that she managed to make it look fabulous while wearing a full spine and neck brace.