40 Iconic Prom Dresses from Movies and Television ShowsBy Jennifer Snow
Prom is one of the highlights of every teenager’s life, and it should be enjoyed to the fullest. Everybody dresses up to look excellent and enchanting for that once-in-a-lifetime event. Of course, many of us get inspiration (for the design and color) from the movies and shows we adore – don’t lie to us and say you’ve never taken outfit inspiration from a film!
In movies and TV series, there are many fabulous dresses we can copy for the big night. To help you prepare for your upcoming prom night or any other formal event, we gathered 40 timeless prom dresses you’ll surely love.
These dresses will make you feel like a princess on your special night, and hey, that’s what it is all about.
Nina Dobrev’s Fuschia Dress (The Vampire Diaries)
Fuschia is an excellent color to flaunt on any occasion. It’s eye-catching and beautiful. Nina Dobrev, who plays Elena in The Vampire Diaries, chose this stunning red gown, which makes sense given the subject matter of the show.
We like that it’s sexy while still being very conservative. It is perfect for Nina Dobrev and her personality in such a role. We also love how well Nina styled her hair and make-up for that evening. That’s what we call class and style!
Shannen Doherty’s B&W Dress (Beverly Hills, 90210)
90210 was one of the most popular teen TV series of the 90s. It was a show that introduced a lot of teenage trends into the mainstream. We think she looks great in black. Do you agree? The overall design gave her a classic look that was unique yet femme and fashionable.
Shannen Doherty wore this black and white number while playing Brenda Walsh. The character chose it to wear to the Spring Dance, and the moment captured above remains iconic. But did you know that in the show, another character wore the same dress? Regardless of the drama that ensued, both women looked stunning.
Penny’s V-Neck Gown (The Big Bang Theory)
Let’s admit it. Penny looks good, not just because of her personality in the show, but because she is a beautiful woman. That red dress is also one of the best choices to help her stand out at prom. And we are not the only ones who think so. Right?
The red v-neck chiffon peplum gown enhanced her beauty, and we are sure she is not one to be outshone in such a beautiful outfit. What really caught our attention was that perfect pixie haircut. It made her look extra classy, and she decorated it with a simple gold headband to complete the look.
Spencer’s Velvet Gown (Pretty Little Liars)
This Nora Gown from the Walter Collection worn by Spencer in one of the Pretty Little Liars episodes is one of our top choices. It is so elegant and sophisticated; you’ll be a head-turner if you wear anything even remotely like it.
It is one of the collection’s most beautiful emerald hues, and we love it! But she was determined to stand out in other ways, so she added a unique touch by wearing gold bangles. She looked so beautiful that we couldn’t stop staring at her!
Emma Watson’s Pink Ruffled Tier Gown (Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire)
Emma Watson, famous for playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series, is not just known for being beautiful and intelligent. She also looks terrific in the right outfit. During their Yule Ball (the wizarding world’s version of the muggles’ prom), Emma wore a cute pink ruffled gown that perfectly complemented her pale skin.
She completed her look with a high bun and a few curly strands hanging loose. Her overall look made her stand out during the event. It’s not too extravagant, but it will catch your eye. Hermione embodied the saying, “simplicity is beauty.”
Samantha’s White Gown (A Cinderella Story)
Samantha’s white gown is another classic prom dress you should try out this season. We love its elegant and classy design that can make you look like a princess at your prom. But don’t worry – you can stay past midnight, so enjoy your prom day.
Honestly, a white gown is a tricky one. First, you should ensure you don’t look like a bride ready to say “I do” at your wedding while attending your prom. We recommend layering something in the gown so there’s another color prevalent in your outfit. It’s a trick many fashionistas use to make their outfits look different.
Cheryl’s Cherry Red Gown (Riverdale)
If you are a fan of Riverdale, you surely know that the beautiful red dress Cheryl wore is one of the best prom numbers ever. It is nothing like most prom gowns that are elegant and classy. However, it is undoubtedly gorgeous with the front choker detail, high slit skirt, and daring cutouts.
It stood out on her figure thanks to all these fine details. We love how she made it look pretty by adding a few accessories, like her earrings and bracelets, which added an extra touch of sophistication to her overall vibe. We just can’t stop admiring her dress and matching lipstick.
Erin Silver’s Pink Gown (90210)
Another iconic dress from the 90s is Erin Silver’s pink gown in the show 90210. We love how well it complemented her pretty face and hair color, but it is not just the color that made this dress extra – it’s because Erin was known to be a tomboy in the show. Seeing her in a pink dress makes you feel like she’s secretly a girly girl at heart.
The dress also made her look beautiful and elegant, which is what we all love when it comes to prom dresses. However, we mostly adored it because of her beautiful face and hairstyle. We are sure that Erin Silver’s prom style would give you a night to remember forever.
Betty’s Greyish-Purple Satin Dress (Riverdale)
The never-stand-out, always-in-the-background type of girl, Betty, shocked us when we saw the episode where she wore a satin dress paired with high heels. The dress suited her sweet personality, with just enough sexiness for everyone to realize that there’s more to her than meets the eye.
We love how simple and elegant it is. Oh! We should have mentioned its design. The off-the-shoulder sleeves are just a chef’s kiss. She finished this look by adding rhinestone clips to her hair. She looks different compared to her usual style. Indeed, prom day can bring out the hidden style queen in anyone.
Emily’s Black and Silver Dress (Pretty Little Liars)
Pretty Little Liars is a show that delivers the best outfits for its actors and actresses, and no dress demonstrates this better than the one Emily wore during the prom episode. We love how she looked in this bold dress, although it does bring out her intimidating side.
Emily wore a black and silver deep V-neck dress from the Michael Costello Fall 2015 collection. In her edgy-glam black and silver outfit, Emily would have still looked like a queen even without the smokey eyes and the crown (which is beautiful, by the way). We will never forget this iconic dress.
Blair’s Black and Gold Gown (Gossip Girl)
Although the ending of this scene was sad for Blair and Nate, we can’t help but admire Blair’s gown. Her distinctive black dress decorated with a gold feather design made her look like a princess straight out of a fairytale.
The design was immaculate. If you want to look princess-like on your prom day, then take this as your inspiration. You are sure to stand out in black as many people go for lighter colors at prom. So if you want to be a prom queen, this knockout dress is right for you.
Caroline’s Beaded Gown (The Vampire Diaries)
In one of the more memorable episodes of The Vampire Diaries, Caroline wore a beaded dress with a tube design. The dress was relatively simple, but the beads made it more unique. The dress is surprising at first glance. Compared to Elena’s gown, this one is pretty elegant.
We love the beaded design – it’s not just a dress but a work of art. She looks stunning in this classy ensemble, especially with her perfectly coiffed hair. Although it was ideal for prom, this is one dress you could add to your closet, ready to pull out for any fancy occasion.
Sharpay’s Fuchsia Pink Dress (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year is one of the best films we’ve ever seen, and with Sharpay as one of the film’s main characters, there’s no wonder why. It was released years ago, but we still like to remember it. One thing that caught our attention in its sequel (or rather its prequel) was Sharpay’s fuchsia pink dress.
The color was no surprise since Sharpay usually wears pink. We love how she made the look more elegant with her sleek updo and matching long pink gloves. Of course, we also adore Ryan’s unwavering loyalty to Sharpay. But did you know that these two best friends were not close during the first movie?
Aria’s Blue Halter Top and Floor-Length Skirt (Pretty Little Liars)
Another Pretty Little Liar character stole our hearts with her colorful outfit. Aria, who wore a blue halter top and a bright floral floor-length skirt, definitely caught our attention. Her overall look gives us a playful and youthful vibe, very different from the beautiful young women beside her.
Many things make us love her look – her personality, her sense of style and fashion, and how she wore the right color for herself. Her blue top paired beautifully with her skirt. The headband and bangles also add some flavor to her look.
Bella’s Halterneck Dress and Embellished Cardigan (Twilight)
You’ll remember how Bella styled herself for prom if you’ve seen the movie. She loves outfits that are laid-back and tomboyish. So, when we saw this scene, we were amazed by how Bella looked quite different. She looked cute with this blue halterneck dress and white embellished cardigan.
But you know Bella will always be Bella. She completes this look with her favorite Converse shoes – a typical Bella move. It’s not surprising that guys would fall for her in this look, especially since she’s so innocent and awkward.
Courtney’s Sheer Dress (Jawbreaker)
Courtney’s sheer dress is pure elegance, even if she plays a bad girl in the movie Jawbreaker. Her dress is more of a long tube top with a sheer overlay than a whole gown. Courtney perfectly captures the decade’s dedication to unusual silhouettes and accessories with her strappy silver shoes, headpiece, makeup, and silver wrap.
Courtney’s bold decision to showcase her inner alien space queen through her outfit is the main reason we love this dress. We can’t imagine the struggle we’d be facing if we wore that tight outfit on our prom day. It’s perfect for Courtney and anyone who wants to be just like her.
Joey’s Black Satin Dress (Dawson’s Creek)
If you want a simple prom dress that still looks sexy, this spaghetti-strap black dress is a must. This dress has no loud features, so it’s perfect for every girl who wants to look classy yet sexy on prom night.
Joey’s dress is one of the classic prom dresses of the 90s. But, honestly, it took us several minutes to fully appreciate the dress. There’s nothing over-the-top about it, but that makes it so striking and memorable. Joey just loves wearing outfits with simple designs for her day-to-day life and her prom look.
April’s Medieval-Gothic Inspired Gown (Parks and Recreation)
Honestly, we doubt anyone would only wear this dress to their prom. It’s super old-school, not to mention the fact that it looks like it’d be far too hot for the dance floor. But if your prom was set in medieval times, this outfit would be perfect.
Also, April has the personality to pull this intense outfit off. Indeed, her medieval-gothic-inspired gown makes her look like she just came out of a fairytale. The inner layer of the dress was violet and faded gold, with a lacey coat that fastened at the waist and layered down the sides.
Rachel’s Blue Ball Gown (Friends)
Friends is a Tv show known for having a lot of unique fashion moments, and Rachel’s blue ball gown is one of them. This gown was a perfect choice for Rachel in this scene. The dress makes her look like she just stepped out from the pages of a fairytale storybook. However, we’d only recommend emulating this look if your prom is ’80s-themed.
The blue dress perfectly matches her ‘80s hairstyle, giving us that princess-like feeling about Rachel all over again. This scene shows that you don’t have to have a prom dress that’s too revealing or too sexy as long as it fits your personality and character well.
Jackie’s Purple Gown (That ’70s Show)
The purple dress Jackie wore in That ’70s Show was an accurate representation of the ’70s, with chiffon frills and an illusion neckline. We admired it primarily because of Jackie’s ability to perfectly pull it off. She was the most attractive girl next door with her curled updo and pretty pink lipstick.
Jackie’s dress was so elegant, yet it perfectly suited her high-strung personality. It’s one of those dresses that will always stand out, no matter how many times you see it. It’s unique, and it suits her perfectly, which makes us love this dress all the more.
Hanna’s V-Neck and Tulle Skirt (Pretty Little Liars)
Hanna’s prom dress is our least favorite. There are so many things that are going on to make this dress a disaster. The sequined bodice, v-neck, and high-low tulle skirt create a strange, boxy silhouette, and let’s not even get started on the boots. Still, she somehow manages to look stunning.
Instead of wearing stilettos or heels, she opted for cream knee-length laced boots. Just like her dress, the shoes are a bit much. Only Hanna could pull this look off!
Stifler’s Mom’s Pale Sheath Dress (American Pie)
Stifler’s mom wasn’t technically at prom, but her pale sheath dress is a classic. It gave her a mature look and highlighted her stunning beauty. Stifler’s mother caught our attention at the prom after-party; she was a seductress in every sense. The dress fit her so well, making us love actress Jennifer Coolidge even more.
Oh, and we love how it portrayed Stifler’s mom as a woman of class and elegance. The gray cardigan adds to the sophisticated image, making her dress appear extra classy. Finishing it off was a pair of black heels, a small necklace, earrings, and the perfect brown lipstick.
Lily’s Cheetah Print Dress (How I Met Your Mother)
We love how Lily looks in this animal print dress while crashing a prom. It’s not too sexy, but it does flaunt her figure. And it also made her look a lot younger than her age, making us love this dress more.
The bodice of this fun and flirty dress featured a cheetah print, which was unique and different from all other prom dresses. We like the overall effect created by Lily’s accessories, including that bright red handbag. She simply looks flawless in it, and her red hair is gorgeous.
Josie’s Shakespeare-inspired Dress (Never Been Kissed)
The metallic sheen, ruffles, and exaggerated sleeves worn by Josie from the movie Never Been Kissed gave her a very old-fashioned look. We won’t be seeing recreations of this dress anytime soon. However, it was the perfect choice for her character.
As we’ve said earlier, no one has to go for a prom dress that’s sexy or revealing as long as it fits your character and personality well. You will definitely love this dress if you’re a fan of 80s fashion. It’s unique and different from all the other dresses we’ve seen on this list.
Alex’s Gray Sweetheart Gown (Modern Family)
Alex Dunphy attended prom with Reuben after she was a few years out of high school, but she gets additional praise for the gray sweetheart dress she wore. The dress looks cute on her, and it doesn’t look like any other prom dresses we have seen before. While it’s not flashy, it certainly looks elegant.
When it comes to prom dresses, you have many styles to choose from, but there is something special about simple cuts. The gray color of the dress also complements Alex’s skin tone. It can only be described as a thoughtful and timeless prom look.
DJ Tanner’s Off-The-Shoulder Dress (Full House)
We can never say no to a simple black dress. This one looked perfect on DJ Tanner, and she looked stunning when she wore it to the prom. The black off-the-shoulder minidress and bold earrings made her look mature, but still, it was a simple and sweet look for her.
Tanner completed the outfit by adding a pair of black stockings. She wore her long, thick cascading hair loose the entire time, keeping it simple yet elegant. If it sounds good, save this in your phone for future reference (wink).
Regina’s Pink Mini Dress (Mean Girls)
Who wouldn’t remember this one? Mean Girls was one of the most iconic movies for teenagers in the early 2000s. Regina had this pink mini dress, and let’s be honest – it looked stunning on her. The hair, makeup, and accessories just added to her picture-perfect look.
The flower decorations around the back and head were artfully positioned to make her appear more feminine despite the brace keeping her body from collapsing. Although we hated her for being mean, we can’t change the fact that her fashion sense in this movie was top-notch.
Ariel’s Bubblegum Pink Dress (Footloose)
Ariel’s pink dress is stunning. However, her hair is the icing on the cake for us. Can you believe how gorgeous it is? If you’re emulating this look, pairing it with white heels will make your outfit shine. You’ll surely turn heads wherever you go.
The best part about this dress is that it can be an off-shoulder number. So, if you want to show more skin, you can wear the sleeves the way Ariel has them in the picture. Or, if you want to be a little conservative, you can also pull the sleeves up over your shoulders.
Summer’s Maxi Dress (The O.C)
Living up to her name, Summer wearing a maxi dress to prom is perfection. The maxi dress she wore on The O.C. looks quite beautiful, and its pinkish hue suits her skin tone nicely. While it isn’t too wild for the prom, it is sexy enough to turn heads.
We love how comfortable Summer looks in this dress. If you don’t want to wear something too complicated or your prom is beach themed, this style of dress might be perfect for you. The only question is – what shoes should you pair it with?
Lorraine’s Polka Dot Print Dress (Back To The Future)
We love this dress. If we ever go back in time and have the chance to pick a prom dress to wear, do us a favor and go for one like this! We love the numerous layers of the skirt that add more volume to the dress. If you’re into princess-like gowns, then give this style a go.
Lorraine – the mom from Back to the Future – looks youthful in the photo, thanks to the sweetheart neckline and the bouffant hairstyle. The dress is very flattering on Lorraine and makes her instantly gorgeous.
Mercedes’ Fuchsia Gown (Glee)
As one of the most iconic shows of the 2000s, Glee delivered plenty of fabulous outfits over the years. And they never disappointed us. For example, Mercedes looks gorgeous in this fuchsia-colored gown. The design of the dress perfectly suits her, and we find no faults at all.
We love this dress and the fact that Mercedes chose not to add more accents or accessories. The garment speaks for itself, so she just added a corsage and earrings to finish the look. We can’t think of a more perfect look for Mercedes!
Buffy’s Strapless Lavender Dress (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Honestly, Buffy could have worn a much better dress than this one. Don’t be mad. We like the color and the idea of the dress, but it just doesn’t suit her personality. Also, the fact that it needs ironing is a problem.
We must cut her some slack considering how many vampires and monsters she had to fight, but her hair looked like a mess in this photo. Of course, there’s never a dull moment when you’re with Buffy Summers. But, let’s be honest – her dress is quite dull.
Marissa’s Chanel Prom Dress (The O.C.)
Undoubtedly, The O.C. was a fashion phenomenon, even though some of its outfits have become dated. Indeed, if you want to study early 2000s fashion, this is the show for you. It had plenty of It-girl styles, such as Marissa’s Chanel prom dress.
From the show’s very first episode, Marissa was a living Chanel doll. She has worn the brand from day one, so it is no surprise that she chose this fancy gown for her prom. The numerous layers of ruffles and the huge bow may seem excessive to some, but we love it.
Kat’s Navy Slip Dress (10 Things I Hate About You)
Want a simple yet sexy prom dress? Then you might want to emulate this one. Kat’s prom dress was simple yet very striking to the eyes. It is the color and the overall design of the dress that made it so memorable. Also, it made Kat look mature.
Everyone can agree that the elegant yet understated navy slip dress was ideal for Kat’s character. We like the way she was able to pull off that dress in her unique way. She completed the ensemble with a pearl necklace, stiletto heels, and piled-on curls.
Gabriella’s Chiffon Prom Dress (High School Musical 3: Senior Year)
We couldn’t take our eyes off Gabriella when we saw her wearing this dress. It was pure happiness to us and was just perfect and magical. Her image all-throughout the movie is that of a sweet girl, and that trait was captured perfectly with this dress.
The flowers at the bottom were a great touch, and the dress has a chiffon fabric that looks very glamorous. She finished the outfit with beach curls, a boutonniere, and a headband that perfectly captures the style of the 2000s. Gabriela’s prom dress is a perfect representation of a modern-day Disney princess.
Laney’s Black Dress (She’s All That)
We love this! It’s simple but very classy. She may not have the most striking prom outfit, but Laney’s black dress is a lovely gown that stood out from the crowd. Her hair and makeup were also flawless.
Though Laney’s prom night didn’t turn out the way she had hoped, it was still a pivotal milestone in her life. For her, the night wasn’t like any other. No, it was a momentous night for Laney! No matter what, she captured our hearts with her black prom dress.
Romy and Michele’s Latex Dresses (Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion)
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is a classic 90s film. Romy and Michele were so unique that they didn’t fit in while they were in high school. It also took them a while to find their feet in life. However, they stole our hearts with their bold fashion choices.
Do you think you could pull off one of these bold dresses? We are used to seeing princess-like ball gowns, but spandex ones? That’s a new one! Nonetheless, Romy and Michele look incredibly confident in their outfits.
Alison’s Yellow Dress (Pretty Little Liars)
Alison stole the show in a gown that Belle from Beauty and the Beast greatly influenced. This dress was chic and suited well to the overall event. Her hair, makeup, and accessories were also lovely. We can find no fault with her prom outfit.
She looks like she stepped out of a fairytale, and her dress is perfect for the occasion. We loved every outfit Alison wore, but this one takes the cake. Would you consider wearing a dress like this to prom?
Serena’s Rose-Gold Gown (Gossip Girl)
Serena, a character on the hit show Gossip Girl, is one of the best-dressed fictional characters ever to appear on television. She always went out with exquisite accessories, dazzling dresses, and designer heels. She looked perfect in the rose-gold gown pictured below.
Serena was always effortlessly stylish and beautiful in her own way. The gown she’s wearing in the photo comes with pink crystals and silver embroidery, which lend a fun touch and plenty of elegance to her look. She finished her look with beautiful hair and cute bangles.
Andie’s Shiny Polka Dots Dress (Pretty in Pink)
What’s with the polka dots? We’ve seen a lot of prom dresses with polka dot patterns, but Andie’s dress from Pretty in Pink is the cutest. She looks innocent in the photo, and we like the way she wore her hair. She looks great!
As beautiful as this look is, it is very dated. You could only really pull this off if you wanted to look like you stepped out of the ‘80s. This photo is unforgettable for us since Andie is one of a kind.