By Kate Beavis

What was your first prom memory? For me it was on the big screen, in the 1978 film Grease. Everyone must remember the famous scene where Danny and Sandy are dancing together, to Born to Hand Jive, until he is whisked away by Cha Cha. Oh, the treachery!

For me, aged 6, the frolics between the boys and girls didn’t stand out to me, but it was the pastel coloured 1950s vintage frocks. I vividly remember Frenchy’s lemon ruffled dress with its bandeau top, ra ra detail and her matching hair. And Jan wearing peach. For contrast, there was Rizzo’s red and black polka dot dress with mermaid skirt detail, and Marty’s bottle green sassy wiggle dress. It was, and still is, vintage prom dress heaven!

Fast forward a decade, I fell in love with Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink and the style that she brought to the character Andie. I adored her love of pink, that she made her own clothes by mashing up thrift store finds, with her individual nod to the past. Aged 15 I literally wanted to be Andie Walsh. Her prom dress was a sugary sweet 1980s creation that I wouldn’t wear now but then….

Prom season is upon us, when 16 year olds celebrate the end of their exams, get dressed up, hire cars and party their socks off. Whether you are going to a prom, or a special party or even a wedding, the prom looks from the past are a great look; they are fun, easy to dance in and will give you a cool sense of style.

Here are my favourite looks with a real sense of nostalgia.


Pretty in Pink

Wearing vintage to the prom will show the world that you have oodles of style and are confident in your look. Plus no one else will be wearing it! This authentic vintage frock ticks every box for me, its colour, the bows, the shape and the length makes this the perfect 1950s dress. For full on pink why not choose matching shoes or contrast in a metallic shade such as these by Miss L Fire?

For those of you who want something shorter but still want to be pretty in pink how about this 1960s ruffle dress?


Create a pastel rainbow

What was fabulous in Grease was the array of pastels worn, so why not choose to do this with your friends and create a pretty pastel rainbow! Think lemon, peach, lilac, baby blue and mint. My favourites are both vintage and vintage reproduction and yes are covered in ruffles, with nipped in waists and polka dots.


Sassy siren

For a more sophisticated look choose a wiggle dress, that hugs your curves and finishes below the knee. A wiggle dress has a narrower hemline than waist so you literally need to wiggle when you walk. Get Marty’s look from Grease in this bottle green reproduction dress inspired by Brigitte Bardot and wear with high heels. Or embrace your inner Rizzo in show stopping red.

Finish the prom look with a hair flower. It was traditional for your date to give you a wrist corsage when picking you up, but I say wear your flowers in your hair, on your chest – the more the merrier. These are designed and made by our hair writer Sarah Bloor.

And if the 1980s is more your thing, then go for it! Choose a short ra ra, embrace your inner Whitney and dance the night away!


Vintage dresses from Love Miss Daisy

Vintage Reproduction dresses from The House of Foxy

Shoes: Miss L Fire

Flowers: Pin Up Curl


Kate Beavis is a vintage lifestyle expert, published author and curator of artisan wedding fairs at Magpie Wedding, formerly The National Vintage Wedding Fair. She is passionate about inspiring women to follow their own styles, whatever their age, in all aspects of their lives from fashion, to weddings, to interiors.


Check out our Prom Pinterest Board for more beautiful dresses and ideas!


Rae Evans
Written by Rae Evans
Rachel is the Editor of Vintage Life Magazine and MD of Dragoon Publishing. She is a vintage historian, publisher, photographer, web designer, social media obsessive, historical re-enactor and loves America and France (and kittens).