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1980s Prom Queen (With Pictures)

Prom Photos and Generations

1990s Prom and the Side Ponytail

90s Prom | From Flickr User kimikojku | CC License Applies | 1991

Welcome to Flashback Friday! Since it’s prom season in Oklahoma, I thought this photo of a group of Gen Xers from a 90s prom made for a fitting look back. All these girls look so happy and so beautiful! I’m guessing they were born sometime between 1972 and 1976.

I was attending college parties, homecoming, and banquets in the 90s. I well remember the velvet dresses with the teal blue, iridescent taffeta sleeves and skirt. I also remember wearing my hair just like the girl on the far left. The side ponytail with tendrils falling was a hot look back in the day.

I never cease to be amazed by how prom styles changed from the 1980s through the early 1990s. When I was a freshman in high school prom dresses by Gunne Sax were very popular. Here is a photo of some older friends of mine from high school at their prom in 1982. I was a 9th grader that year and didn’t attend, but I remember the theme was Fantasy Island. All of these girls were juniors and seniors, some of whom I knew quite well through the school newspaper staff and school plays.

1982 Prom

Florals, Ribbons, Pastels and Lace

1980s Gunne Sax Dresses

1980s Gunne Sax Dresses

Every spring in preparation for the annual prom, the maintenance men at CVHS would hang heavy-duty wires around the gym. The junior class would spend a week of afternoons taping hundreds of streamers from the top of those wires to the floor to create four crepe paper walls. It was really something to behold!

1983 Prom

Pastels, Ruffles, Dotted Swiss and Cummerbunds

1980s Prom Photo featuring vintage Nadine formals and dotted swiss prom dresses

Early 1980s Prom: Vintage Nadine Formals, JC Penney’s formals, and pastel dotted Swiss dresses.

This picture was taken the following year (1983) when 80s prom styles shifted to the Southern Belle look. We all wore these gigantic hoops under our dresses. We looked completely ridiculous dancing. That’s me on the back row in the white dress.

We were still living in Southeast Kansas and my mom drove me all the way to Tulsa to buy that white dress. It was a Nadine formal and it appeared in Seventeen magazine that year. It cost $140. My brother, who was in the Marines at the time sent me the money to buy it. My sister, who is 11 years older than me, told me it cost more than her wedding dress.

The theme of this prom was Up Where We Belong from the popular movie, An Officer and A Gentleman.

1984 Prom

Prom dresses with ruffles and jewel tones

Dark, Jewel-tone colores were popular in 1984. This my classmates and me at our 1984 prom. Our dresses were bright purple, royal blue, red and teal with a fair amount of pastel.

Dark, Jewel-tone colores were popular in 1984. This my classmates and me at our 1984 prom. Our dresses were bright purple, royal blue, red and teal with a fair amount of pastel.


This is me and my friends from my junior prom (1984). That’s me in the front in the dark green dress. The big skirts and ruffles were still very popular, but I didn’t think any of us looked particularly sexy, not like prom-going girls today.

I can’t for the life of me remember the theme of this prom, but I think it was from the movie Footloose. The sophomore servers danced to Let’s Hear It For The Boy.

1985 Prom

Finally, this is a picture of me at my senior prom on May 4, 1985. My dress had a sequin bodice. I was crowned prom queen that night by my dear friend Jamie who has since passed.  Life just gets away from us, doesn’t it? It was pretty neat wearing a $20 tiara for the night.

Fifteen days later, we all graduated high school and went our separate ways.

1980s Prom Queen 1985

Prom 1985

What was the theme of your senior prom?

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Liz

    My senior prom was in 1993. I don’t remember the theme. I remember the boys all wore cumberbuns (sp?) back then to match their date’s dress. My dress was black strapless with a large white bow around the chest. I must have used 6 cans of Rave to get my hair that big. I had rhinestone earrings and above the elbow black gloves to finish the look.
    I found your site by looking for Gunne Sax dresses. I wondered if that company was still in business. I used to love looking at the formal dresses at our local department store. Sigh….. those were fun times.

    • Jennifer

      Thanks for your comment, Liz. So nice to hear from you. I could see the dress and gloves and rhinestone earrings, and especially that big white bow. I loved that look. I miss Gunne Sax, although the Boho look of today is reminiscent of it…

    • Faith

      I so remember the rave hairspray and also aqua net. Staples for us back then. My senior prom was also in 1993. My dress was black and white as well. The skirt part was the layered puffy look and the top was off the shoulder with extra puffy piece going all the way around the neckline. Those were the days!

  2. Billy

    1983 is funny. My older sister graduated in 1984. I remember that, in 1983, when she was a junior, all the girls wore hoop dresses. Their theme was also “Up Where We Belong.” This was in a small town in western Colorado.

    • Jennifer

      Haha! That’s funny that they also had Up Where We Belong as a theme. Whatdya bet that was the theme of a lot of proms in the 80s. Those hoop dresses were crazy. Possibly the least sexy prom dress known to man kind. They were totally ridiculous to dance in. They looked so silly on the dance floor in those plantation dresses with early 80s rock in the background — especially songs like Oh, Mickey and Maneater. LOL! Thanks for stopping by, Billy.

  3. HeyRay

    My senior prom theme was “Caribbean Odyssey,” in May 1989.

    My dress was powder blue satin, long, and off-the-shoulder. I borrowed it from my friend Allison who wore it a year or 2 prior. It was very pretty. I’d gone to try on dresses with a friend but the ones I liked were way more expensive than what my mom said she’d spend. I remember being mad she wouldn’t spring for a prom dress, for my ONLY prom. So I decided wearing a really nice dress that was borrowed was still better than having my own dress that was from JCPenney.

  4. Jennifer James

    Great story. Thanks for sharing. You must have been a great daughter. I don’t know many girls who would have kept the $15 dress and waited for prom to come around. I miss the days of decidedly unsexy. What they wear now is pretty unbelievable. I’ve actually seen a bikini top and long skirt in a recent picture. Wow!

  5. realrellim

    I remember those hoop dresses in the stores! I wasn’t old enough for prom, but I remember wishing they’d still be around when I was. (My mother said they wouldn’t be, but it didn’t stop me from hoping.)

    I’m on the younger end of Gen X; my senior prom was in 1992. Our theme was Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” My dress was decidedly un-sexy: some powder blue thing with a big skirt, sort of like the teal green dress in your 1984 prom picture except the skirt didn’t have as much trim. We’d found it on clearance for $15 or something ridiculously cheap when I was a freshman, and decided we’d just buy it in case I ever went to prom. I hated shopping and liked the dress well enough, so it worked out. It wasn’t my favorite dress, but on the other hand, I really didn’t have the shape necessary to wear the kinds of low-cut dresses that were so popular by the time I did get to go.

    Craziest prom memory: planning to go to Great America the next day, and going to the Museum of Science and Industry instead because Great American closed due to ice on the rides. It was May in Chicago, but a cold front brought unseasonably low temperatures.

  6. Jennifer James

    @KARIN – I wanted to be Andi making my own prom dress. I love that movie. I think I was a sucker for the frou-frou, frippery. But, never a pastel-kind-of-girl.

  7. Jennifer James

    @TERRITORY MOM – Sorry forgot to address that commetn to you.

    @ANDI That story made me laugh. That must have been like 1987 or ’86 – b/c that was the year that song was popular. A big red belle dress. Pictures, please.

  8. Jennifer James

    I didn’t have the nerve to publish my photo with the King. I look ridiculous. I loved Rothschilds. It was *the* store in 1985 when I moved to OKC!

  9. Andi

    I wore the Southern Belle style one year! I remember how much a hated shopping for the dress…still hate shopping. Don’t remember my themes, but do remember that the year I wore the belle dress (in red and white) was the year that Lady in Red was a big hit and I felt really special as I was the only one in red!

  10. Territory Mom

    OMG, tomorrow I’m actually going to look for my old prom photos.
    I loved Crossroads, my sister and I both worked at Rothchilds, we were soooooo cool!

  11. Jennifer James

    @TERRITORY MOM – Shower curtains – haha! I do remember that the best place in OKC to buy fancy dresses was crossroads. Remember the DEB shops, though?

  12. Jennifer James

    There was some of that cowboy business going on at the Caney proms. $90 for Lord and Taylor is a steal. It’s so wonderful hearing you share memories of your kids. I always assume parents forget everything. =/ And, I agree, people who don’t like social media didn’t move 14 times growing up. Ha!

  13. Territory Mom

    I bought my ’83 senior prom dress at this shop in OKC that was all the rage. I think it was at Crossroads. The owner had two stores. If you didn’t like what she had at one store then the sales girl would walk you down to the other store for a dress. I think the owner was Sherri Hill, correct me if I’m wrong. If I were going to prom today I would stop at nothing to get a Sherri Hill dress.
    P.S. all my old formals are still in my mom’s closet. I really need to make some shower curtains out of them.

  14. granbee

    Jen, you have the same loveable smile and beautiful face back then as you do now! Wonderful sharing. My own children were in high school prom years in 1989,1991. I do remember lots of sequins on my daughter’s dress,which we managed to snap up for a little over $90.00 on sale (we bought early!) at Lord and Taylor in Atlanta! Can you imagine? My son’s junior and senior proms out at the New Mexico School for Math and Science were a tad more “rad” in approved dress styles, if you get my drift (you know, cowboy boots, etc. with dresses and tuxes!) Wonderful memories, right? So glad you are back in touch with friends from high school in Kansas on Facebook. I think folks who criticize social media probably have always lived in one place and don’t need it to stay in touch with friends and family like we do!


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