In particular, Gunne Sax prom dresses were the designer trend that reigned supreme on most prom queens of the decade. (Of course, there were other popular brands of 80s prom dresses, too — see dozens of them here!)
Romantic and ruffled 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, these fairytale confections really happened — and we have the proof!
We went through dozens of 80s magazines (especially Seventeen) and found pictures of more than 60 different classic Gunne Sax prom dresses that ranged from sophisticated to romantic, to the full-on bubblegum look.
The gowns weren’t cheap, so the company spent the bucks on some beautiful photo shoots — making it easier for us to look back at this frothy and ultra-feminine collection of prom dresses. (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 [the shop].
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, 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
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.
DON’T MISS: 284+ retro women’s shoes from the 80s
Vintage Gunne Sax prom dress with yesteryear enchantment (1983)
Fancy vintage Gunne Sax prom dresses in white and cream (1983)
Retro Amy pink Gunne Sax dance dress (1984)
Susanna prom dress in pink ribbon-striped flounces (1984)
Zoe black and white striped prom dress with black peplum (1984)
Bare-shouldered satiny dresses for the formal (1984)
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
Vintage 1980s blue Gunne Sax prom dress
Cobalt blue, rhinestone embellished, off-the-shoulder ballgown style dress.
Vintage 80s sleeveless Gunne Sax prom dresses in navy blue (1984)
Vintage Lydia dress with ruffles and lace (1984)
Romantic white prom dresses (1984)
1980s Gunne Sax prom dress – Billie at the dance (1984)
It’s his coming home party — Sam’s, her brother’s best friend. He used to tease her when she’d tag along “You’re hard to take now, Billie — but someday you’ll be hard to leave alone.” Well, Sam, tonight we’ll see… Billie. In strapless red ruffles. Style 63021. Sizes 3 to 13. Also available in other colors.
Juniors prom dresses from Joslins (1985)
MAGIC MOMENTS BEGIN WITH…GUNNE SAX. The moment you’ve been dreaming about is almost here and only the most perfect gown will fit the fantasy. Gunne Sax weaves moonbeams and romance into every delectable dress.
Floor sweeping, pink dotted swiss, satin and lace accents your femininity. $134. Rustling, gleaming matinee length pink taffeta with flirty off-the-shoulder ruffle, creates a dazzling you $86. Both in sizes 3-13. Begin the dream today in our Better Junior Dress Department, all stores. Joslins accepts VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Joslins’ charge cards.
Lacy prom gowns from Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock (1985)
Pastel pink and blue retro 80s prom dresses (1985)
From the collection. Cupcake bodice, spaghetti straps, peplum. Pink acetate moire. $94. Bustler bodice: Blue acetate satinette with white polyester lace overlay. $102. Gunne Sax.
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.
Black and white satin sweetheart bustier dress by Jessica McClintock (1985)
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.
Gown with blue ruffled bustier of flocked organza (1985)
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 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
Sleeveless purple Gunne Sax 80s formal dress (1986)
1980s Gunne Sax dress styles from ’86
Iridescent white 80s long dress (1986)
Vintage 80s Gunne Sax formal dress at Belk and Leggett (1986)
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 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.
Vintage Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax white prom dress (1988)
Classic pink satin fantasy dress (1988)
Satin doll in a can-can fantasy dress of star-struck pink destined for dancing. Sequined lace bustier.
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.