Skip to Content

80s Prom Dress Costume

How to make a DIY 80s prom dress costume from thrift store dresses.

You never know when you’ll need a good 80’s prom dress. When that occasion arises, I’ve got you covered.

I dreamed up this little number in preparation for SNAP back in April knowing that one night there was an 80’s prom-themed party.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be wearing it for Halloween also, because this is a dress that’s begging to be worn again.

(UPDATE – I did in fact wear it for Halloween, at least once, and I wore it to an 80’s themed birthday party.)

I admit to not having tons of photos of the step-by-step process. I do a lot of my sewing in the try-this-and-see-if-it-works philosophy. But I

think I’ve still got enough tips to help you through it, and I hope you’ll find an excuse to make one too.

Me with Briton from Rad Mom Cool Kid

Hit up thrift shops–I got lucky and found all of these at one Savers location, but I had tried several other places without finding anything.

Start with a plain base dress. (You can see I already started sewing some of the orange liner on.) This takes out most of the complicated sewing. mine was this plain black one.

You’ll add taffeta to it, but you won’t have to sew sleeves or a zipper or anything.

Buy one or two taffeta dresses. Style doesn’t matter here because you’ll be cutting them up. Look for dresses with long skirts though, because that will give you more fabric of course. Color doesn’t really matter either, though brighter is better. I found orange and pink.

You can see I made two sloping ruffles, a bow and a ruffle sleeve.

For the bottom ruffles, cut a 12 inch band off the bottom of one of the dresses. Attach it to the dress with the band upside down, and make pleats or gathers in the taffeta as you pin it down.

Sew where it’s attached, being careful to not get layers caught in the machine. If you have too much taffeta left over when you reach the starting point, cut out the excess and sew a connecting seam down the side.

Repeat with the top color.

To make a bow, cut a strip of taffeta about 18 inches x 10 inches and sew 2 sides together. Turn right side out and sew it closed.

Wrap a small band of fabric around the middle and secure with hot glue. Attach the bow to the dress with a safety pin.

For the ruffle sleeves, cut strips of taffeta about 12×6 inches long. To prevent unraveling, I melted all alongside one edge with a flame.

Be SUPER careful if you do this as the taffeta is flammable. Always work near a sinkful of water, and if possible, use tongs to hold the fabric near the flame.

To gather the sleeve ruffles, there was really no method, just some scrunching and bunching of the raw side until I got a shape I was happy with.

Then they’re stuck to each area with–you guessed it–hot glue! Costumes are awesome that way.

I added a pair of knee-high neon pink socks and plain black shoes. Fishnet gloves would be cool too.

Photo Credit Alex Adams Photography

So here’s how I rocked the dress at SNAP. Are you impressed? Or just scared? Either way, I hope you’ve found some helpful tips in her for if you ever need an 80’s prom dress for you or someone else. Have fun!

Want to buy a costume instead of making your own? Start here–> Costumes

Or get these awesome add ons to your 80s costume:
Neon party hats
Fingerless neon gloves
Banana clips
Leg warmers
Tshirt clips

This would make a great teen costume, and so would these other posts!

Teen group costumes

Animal Muppet costume

Harry Potter robe costume

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Vanessa Barker

Wednesday 14th of October 2015

You ROCKED this dress. Miss you girl

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.