In particular, the designer trend that reigned supreme on most prom queens of the decade were Gunne Sax prom dresses.
Romantic and lacy, the most popular Gunne Sax gowns in the 80s had a distinct Victorian-era vibe, one that persisted throughout most of the decade. (It’s not too far from the old-school cottagecore style, when the prairie dress had its first big comeback in the 80s.)
While it’s probably not the look you’d have expected from the generation known more for neon, flannel and Doc Martens, but these fairytale confections really happened — and we have the proof!
Below you can take a look back at 34 different classic Gunne Sax prom dresses that ranged from sophisticated to romantic to the full-on bubblegum look. Check out this frothy and ultra-feminine collection of prom dresses for yourself! (Want to see more? Check out the GS dresses available on eBay here!)
Prom gowns are going romantic (1985)
Excerpted from the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York) – April 14, 1985
A full-length pink taffeta-confection is the hottest-selling dream creation as high school prom season nears
When the prom music begins to play, another sound will fill the dance floor: the rustle of the layers of fabric needed to carry off this year’s most popular look in gowns.
The attitude is romantic, and the fashions often are off-the-shoulder dresses with full, sweeping skirts decorated with small bows — all a wee bit reminiscent of Little Bo Peep.
This year’s hottest-selling dream gown for upcoming school proms, from the Gunne Sax collection of California designer Jessica McClintock, is a full-length pink taffeta confection featuring puffed sleeves and a draped overskirt fastened with little pink bows.
Gunne Sax reportedly cut 29,000 models of the gown, and they sold as fast as tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Irondequoit Bridal Fashions had 18 of the pink creations at its two showrooms in Rochester.
“They were sold out completely before they got to our store,” says Terry Hobson, co-owner of Irondequoit Bridal Fashions.
But all of the gowns in the Gunne Sax prom collection are big this year. The gowns were featured in Seventeen magazine, and they are all “hot” items, Hobson says.
Besides the Little Bo Peep concoction, the Gunne Sax prom collection includes a full-length, off-shoulder black and white gown, and a sophisticated-looking strapless gold lame with gold sequins on the bodice and belt.
Overall, the old-fashioned look appears to be this year’s prom favorite.
Vintage lacy white Gunne Sax prom dresses (1981)
Two sheer, lacy, white Gunne Sax prom dresses with ruffles galore.
Vintage 80s Gunne Sax prom dress… white sleeveless satin bustier with black bow
Somehow sensing that, after tonight, no other rose will ever mean so much. White satin busier with a black bow.
Romantic and lacy Gunne Sax formalwear for girls (1982)
Velvet mood, whispered promises… in a holiday hush, the magic of the moment is you — and your Gunne Sax.
Gunne Sax dresses – Victorian satin and lace (1980s)
Enter an era gone by with a Victorian fantasy of satin and lace. The petticoat ballet gown in white lace over pink satin, and the white satin gown with apron and bustle.
Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax (1984)
An elegant embrace of onyx velvet, sashed with a sapphire cascade borrowed from a moonlit sky… inviting the promising touch of Jessica McClintock, the Fragrance
Classic gold lame bustier prom dress from Gunne Sax in the 80s
Waiting for his first glimpse of you in a gown of liquid gold. Sequin-trimmed lamé bustier.
Vintage 1980s blue Gunne Sax prom dress
Cobalt blue, rhinestone embellished, off-the-shoulder ballgown style dress.
Pink and blue retro 80s prom dresses (1985)
Black moire taffeta dance dress from Gunne Sax in Seventeen (1985)
While time stops, you look into your future — and see only him. Black moire taffeta dance dress.
Vintage 1980s black and white Gunne Sax prom dresses
Opposite attractions… Ebony sleek and white ivory; Polished to a smoldering glow.
Retro 80s Gunne Sax dress at Susie’s (1985)
From Susie’s fabulous Gunne Sax collection. Style shown can be worn on or off the shoulders. Designed exclusively for Susie’s. Pink or blue, sizes 3 to 13.
Vintage black with white Gunne Sax prom dress
A magic moment — beginning to realize that you and he share something very special. Black and white satinette bustier tied at one shoulder with striped fabric..
Light blue romantic formal prom dress – 1980s Gunne Sax
Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax prom dresses (1987)
So, what are you wearing to the prom? Come in and see all the options you have to make a Prom Fantasy begin.
Your Prom Fantasy begins with “Will you go to the prom with me?” Joy… shivers… excitement… special perfume.. nail polish… hair curlers… and the perfect GUNNE SAX dress.
You’re lovely in satin, lace or lamé in long or matinee-length dresses. Many styles to choose from.
A night to remember: Win the prom of your dreams (1987)
Imagine… a gleaming limousine sweeps you and your date to a fabulous dinner for two, then on to the Prom, where all eyes are on you…
Gunne Sax white dress (1988)
Evening star outshining the rest in a luminous burst of white-on-white — Matinee length bustier
Vintage Gunne Sax prom dresses (1980s)
Vintage prom dress: Moonlit lace (1988)
Star dancer dazzling in an illusion of moonlit lace and gossamer netting. Peplum full-length gown.
Romantic 80s Gunne Sax prom dresses looked a lot like this
A Magic Moment — Falling in love and feeling the world spin. Blue floral Victorian with lace trim.
Classic pink satin fantasy dress (1988)
Satin doll in a can-can fantasy dress of star-struck pink destined for dancing. Sequined lace bustier.
Gunne Sax gown with a blue ruffled bustier of flocked organza (1985)
Pink satin and lace ruffled Gunne Sax prom dresses
From Ups & Downs: Pretty pink… a captivating twosome all ruffles & lace.
Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax: Dramatic dressing (1989)
Amethyst in the spotlight. Wrap-tucked, bare, and flounced for a very special effect.