While the 60s celebrated tailored designs and classic forms, 70s prom dresses embraced flowing, unstructured maxi dresses, ruffles and lace, pastels, and delicate fabrics like chiffon — as well as synthetic/semi-synthetic fibers like polyester, rayon and Qiana that were popular in 70s clothing.
Influenced by the bohemian movement, the decade also saw the emergence of prairie style in prom fashion, complete with floral patterns reminiscent of calico, and overall a distinct country charm. The 1970s prom dress not only broke away from traditional formalwear norms but also captured a sense of individuality and creativity.
This photo collection of 70s prom dresses offers a glimpse into the distinctive styles of the era that redefined prom fashion — with not one crinoline in sight! (PS: Also check out these vintage 80s prom dresses!)
Floral broadcloth long dresses for juniors (1977)
Gauzy green 70s long dresses (1975)
Teen prom dresses from 1976
Dressy gowns from 1976
Pastel-colored long 70s prom dresses from JC Penney
A: SET-IN MIDRIFF HIGHLIGHTS GRACEFUL V-NECK DRESS. Of lightly textured acetate-and-rayon crepe. Cotton lace trims the broad white collar and cuffs. Attached sash starts at sides, ties in back. Gently flared skirt.
B: ROWS OF FLOWERS AND DOUBLE-RUFFLE HEM FOR AN ULTRA-FEMININE LOOK. Sheer nylon organza dress in flocked dots and printed flowers. Puffed sleeves. Softly gathered skirt. Acetate satin ribbon-trim. (Future actress Kim Basinger is wearing this dress.)
C: GEOMETRIC BRAID TRIM BRIGHTENS THE COLLAR, BODICE AND SKIRT of this sophisticated dress. Fashioned of crisp, shape-holding polyester double knit with a distinctive twill texture. Back zipper. Fully lined in acetate (except sleeves). DC Slim straight skirt.
70s prom dresses made from vintage Simplicity sewing patterns
Both dresses are bias-cut lobng dresses, and the white, black and yellow check pattern dress has an empire sash
Pretty pink prom dresses from the 70s
Pretty prom dress designs from 1972
Empire dresss with sheer capelet (Vintage 70s fashion)
Actress Shelly Hack modeling slim-fit long prom dresses
From Seventeen magazine (November 1970 – Modeled by actress Shelly Hack)
In a flash of silver, you’re in the Harlow mood. Diamonds flicker on panne velvet… the only breaks in a long reach of body awareness that hugs you in glimmer. Shoes show silver for a sparkling ending.
A gown of purple velvet textured in diamonds — the silhouette is sinuous, with special softness at the puffy sleeves and V-throated topping, m ore at the hem-low ruffle. By Cottager.
Teen prom fashions from Salisbury, Maryland (1971)
Peasant dress with puffed sleeves & paisley-like fabric (1971)
Retro polyester prom dresses from the 1970s
Summery casual white party dress with cotton lace (1979)
1970 prom dresses from New Jersey
Old-fashioned prom dresses in pastel blue and apricot (1973)
Ruffled long prom dresses of double-knit polyester (1974)
Left: Sleeveless dreams of smooth knit looks devastating from every angle. It has a low-cut V-neckline in front: empire-style band waistline; ruffle-edged armholes: deeply cut-out back with two attached ties. Back zipper.
Right: Enchanting dress of crepe-textured knit with a flocked flower-print. Ruffle-edged neckline is scooped in front: shoot puffed sleeves arc elasticized; empire-style waistline has welt-seaming in front and an attached half-belt that ties in back.
Empire-waist long dress with short jacket & green/white polka dot dress (1975)
Teens dancing at the prom in Asbury Park, New Jersey (1975)
Long 70s dresses from JC Penney (1973)
Vintage 70s prom dress looks (1976)
From the St Cloud Times (Minnesota) March 18, 1976
Looks for the spring prom dress this year seem as varied as the people shopping for them. From sheens and sequins to lace and muslin, the styles are there.
Shoppers perusing the racks of prom wear at local stores will find colors in the traditional spring pastel varieties, but from there on, the choice is theirs.
Local salespeople are calling gauze the fashion fabric of the year, and prom styles will feel the effect. Stores are dominated by dresses in that delicate fabric, and sales clerks say most of the sales emphasis will go to gauze. Styles the gauze dresses take vary with the store, but empire waistlines are the most common.
Tucked bodices, either high-necked or scooped, are set off by flared skirts and ever-present ruffles. Sashes sometimes accent the waistlines, while sheer cotton lace and ribbon trim highlight them other times. Matching lace-edged shawls occasionally top off the outfit.
In some prom selections, cotton prints enforce the natural look of gauze. Prints are found bordering hems and ruffles and worked into bodices, while another natural-looking material, lace, forms the sleeves. A ruffle of lace around the bottom completes the free-flowing look.
For those who wish to be a little less free-flowing, dressier kinds of prom styles are not hard to find. The sheen of lightly colored satin acetate is used to dress up some prom fashions. Lace sleeves are often found on acetate styles, with zippers to the elbow for accent. The empire waist is prominent in these styles, as are sashes and ruffles.
One hundred percent nylon is another dressy prom alternative. This shiny material can often be seen with lace and sequin trim around V-necks and long sleeves. A not-so-dressy alternative found on local prom dress racks are print polyester knit variations. A solid pastel is accented by quilted V-neck print insets. Sales clerks say this style will be a major selling item, too.
Variations on any of these themes can be found in abundance on the local prom market: lace panels on tiered skirts, short-sleeved dresses, bolero jackets, long back zippers, lace and ribbon shawls, natural country skirts, and Bicentennial colors. Prices will vary, too, of course, from $25 to $65 for most prom dresses, sales clerks say.
Still, promgoers can get away from dresses altogether with prom jumpsuits. Most of them are in the same price range as the prom dresses, and they, too, can be casual or dressy.
The casual styles are mostly made of cotton, have front scoop pockets, rope trim and belts, gathered waists, and a price tag of about $25. The dressier ones cost about $10 more. Some of them are made of polyester, acetate, and linen. Gathered waists, high necklines, and matching scarves top off most of these.
Casual long sleeveless 70s prom dresses
Pastel-hued 70s peasant/country-style prom dresses
Elegant long dresses from the 1970s
Minnesota prom dresses from 1976
1970s prom dress – Long denim prairie dress
Vintage 70s prom dresses and formalwear from 1975
Couple going to the prom in San Antonio, Texas (1975)
4 different white prom dress styles (1977)
Soft-draping pastel dresses in fluid polyester knit
A: LACE-ACCENTED GOWN. In polyester knit. Soft, flowing style has mock turtle-neck, V-shaped front and back lace inserts, and attached, gathered cape over sleeveless, empire bodice. Long, back zipper with hook-and-eye closures.
B: LETTUCE-EDGED GOWN. In polyester knit. V-neck with capelet collar and sleeves. The gathered, empire-style bodice has braid and front string-tie trim. Full, flowing skirt. Long, back zipper with hook-and-eye closure.
C: BLOUSON-STYLE GOWN. In polyester knit. Gathered bodice has shoulder straps that button in back. Front string-tie trim. Flowing skirt. Long, back zipper.