Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses- 1920s – 1980’s

1920s -1980’s New Vintage Prom Dresses

Add some classy vintage fashion to your formal event and you’ll look and feel amazing. From the sexy beaded flapper dresses of the 1920’s to the sleek and slim Hollywood gowns of the 30’s and 40’s, to the hip and colorful 80’s dresses there is a vintage style gown with your name on it.

Here are some examples of new vintage inspired prom dresses:

1920’s Formal Prom Dresses

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s
Formal dresses of the 1920’s were known for their exquisite hand beaded gowns. These tea length bead and chiffon dresses were straight cut floating layers of elegance. Flapper dresses were  a bit shorter and had fringe or beaded fringe. Sometimes entire dresses were beaded in geometric Art Deco patterns. The 1920’s  are especially popular today thanks to shows Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abby.

For your 1920s formal dress look for short or mid length tea dresses made of silk or chiffon that feature beaded decorations all over, around the neckline, waist or bottom edge. Choose any color that you like- the 1920’s were all about standing out. Click here for my handpicked collection of Sue Wong 1920’s inspired formal gowns.

Accessorize your dress with a pair of 1920’s Style T-strap shoes, seamed stockings, art deco jewelry, and a wispy feather boa. For extra wow! style your hair into rolls of waves and curls around your neck and pin back to one side with a bead or feather headband.

1930’s Prom Dresses

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1930’s Prom dress

When the stock market fell in 1929 so did the hemlines of dresses. Modesty was the way of the 30’s but you would never know it looking at 1930’s gowns. These dresses were long, sleek and sexy. They were made of silk or satin and were cut on the bias, which just means that the design naturally hugged every curve of your body. They were minimally decorated with clusters of beaded flowers or rhinestones- usually around the neckline. Plain dresses had light draping fabric, gathered with  a decorative rhinestone brooch at the shoulder. These gowns were inspired by Grecian and Egyptian goddesses. Colors were rich mattes and pastels.

For accessories wear a matching pair of pretty cutout pumpsor closed toe sandals. Add some simple jewelry, a pair of long satin gloves, and a cute little purse to carry your makeup. For your hair sleek it back into a low bun or wave and curl shorter hair.

1940’s Prom Dresses

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1940’s Prom Dress

It was in the 1940’s that “junior prom” became an annual event. Because of the war rationing dresses were no longer cut on the bias since it wasted material. Instead they were shorter and they exposed more skin. Even with the restrictions 1940’s formal evening wear was glamorous. Dresses could be short, but were mostly long with layers of gathered chiffon that hung down from the high waist. Dress straps were spaghetti or about 1 inch wide. A matching lace bolero jacket sometimes were worn over the dresses. Teens liked pretty pastel and jewel tone colors best. Sequins and beads were the one bit of sparkle that adorned every dress, especially around the waist and bodice.

During the day 1940’s hairstyles were curled and pined back or up. For evening wear the long soft and wavy look was in. Part you hair on the side and comb over, pin, curl and brush out so that your waves our bouncy. Add a rhinestone bracelet and small dangle rhinestone earnings. For shoes choose pretty pumps with thick heels to match your dress.

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

Long Pencil Dress

With the current interest in vintage 1940’s-1950’s cocktail / bombshell / pinup dress you may want to wear one for the prom. The look is very vintage and can be either formal or casual. Dresses are pencil shaped with knee length skirts, tight belted waists, and cap sleeves. A more modern variation is a long, sleeveless, high neck dress. Wear this look with a victory roll hairstyle, flower clip, and peep toe shoes.

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1950’s Prom Dresses

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1950’s Princess Prom Dress

As the 50’s rolled in, conservatism rolled out. Formal prom dresses were huge volumes of layered tulle and tight princess cut bodices. These dresses were often floor length but could rise to just above the knee- similar to circle skirt day dresses but with more formal material. Pink was the hottest color with other bright hues being favorites as well. Bodices are strapless and embroidered with silver and gold thread or accented with a cute bow.

1950’s style prom dresses are some of easiest to find in vintage or modern clothing. Almost any dress described as “princess” or “ballgown” is based on the 1950’s style. The most important part of a 1950’s prom dress is comfort when dancing. Put on a pair of kitten heeled pumps or adorable flats and take to floor. Keep you hair down but pined back on either side with pretty barrette or a thin headband. Add pearl jewelry and gloves for a little extra wow.

You can also go completely vintage 50’s rockabilly with short pencil skirts or full circle skirts in bright reds, blacks, and cherry print fabrics. Style your hair like Betty Page and your good to rock and roll!

1960’s Prom Dresses – Mad Men Style

Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1960’s Prom Dress

The 1960’s fashion was split between the 50’s style and the colorful hippie style. I like the early style better. Early 60’s style become very popular with the TV show Mad Men. These short, sheath dresses, with form fitted skirts and high waists are very sexy. Not every body can pull these off- although with the right body shaping undergarments you could look like the sexy character Joan. For the rest of us stick to the 50’s style princess dress but shorter- to the low knee- instead of floor length. This style of 1960’s prom dresses remained popular through most of the 60’s

Colors were jewel tones for formal wear. Gold, silver, yellow, and whites were the most common. For your hair – style it up into a bouffant or short beehive with sweeping bangs combed over and around. Add sexy tall pumps or sandals and plenty of gold jewelry. Hold a clutch purse and wear a soft vintage fur coat to arrive and depart it.

1970’s Prom Dresses


Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

70s Maxi Halter Dress

The 1970’s brought back prom dresses down to earth. The hippie movement reintroduced simple peasant style gowns into fashion. These long dresses had high necklines and long full sleeves or short puffy ones. They were usually only one layer of cotton or polyester fabric and sometime ended with a ruffle along the button. They had minimal decoration. The beauty was in the simplicity and long lines. Colors were solid earth tones or soft pastels. These are very hard to find in modern prom dresses. The more casual maxi dress with halter necklines are a bit easier to find. These two toned beauties were for very high end fashionable ladies! Perfect for today’s prom attendee.

Just like the dress- long straight hair was in. Sometimes headbands were worn. If your hair was curly then feathering it in layers was all the rage. Sandals were the best shoes or low formal flats.

1980’s Prom Dresses


Inspired Vintage Prom Dresses  1920s   1980s

1980’s Short Prom Dress

The 80’s kicked off with a blast of color and even more taffeta. This stiff shiny fabric made it possible to add stiff shapes of folded fabric. Large bows on the front and back added structure. And short puffed out dresses  in bright colors were hot! These styles of prom dresses are today’s favorites. Wear your favorite bright color in either long or short strapless gown add a pair of black high heeled pumps. Up-do your hair to the max for an 80’s prom flashback that’s sure to impress!


Here are some more vintage inspired prom dresses:



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