23 Iconic TV And Movie Prom Looks Ranked From "Burn It" To "Bury Me In It"

    Pretty sure I'm going to make some enemies with this one.

    Just so you know, this ranking includes outfits from proms, homecomings, dances from outside the US, and all other types of formal high school soirées, because there are some iconic looks that deserve a spot on the list, even if they don't technically appear in a prom scene.

    A bunch of teenagers dancing at prom.

    And now, without any further ado, an entirely subjective ranking of 23 iconic onscreen prom looks from "mediocre" to "literally what dreams are made of."

    23. Andie Walsh's DIY two-dresses-in-one mashup from Pretty in Pink.

    Andie wearing her handmade pink dress

    I want to like this dress so badly, because Andie made it herself, and that deserves a near-endless amount of kudos. But...

    Andie and Duckie standing together at the prom

    ...I just don't! From the high lace neckline to the poof-forward sleeves to the polka dot pattern to the way it fits, nothing here is working for me.

    Ducky and Andie arm-in-arm at the prom

    22. Josie Geller's Renaissance gown from Never Been Kissed.

    Josie wearing the dress and talking to her classmates

    I love a statement sleeve (and a statement dress), but the pink and green color scheme, along with the sheer amount of lace, is alarming to me.

    The dress showing off the bell sleeves

    That being said, this dress is supposed to be a costume. While it's not my personal style, as a former drama kid I can only imagine how much fun it would be to wear it onstage and feel Shakespearean as hell.

    21. Carrie Bradshaw's senior prom look from The Carrie Diaries.

    Oh, boy. Carrie, you grow into a fashion icon, but now is not your time.

    Carrie wearing the dress and looking sad

    The random swirling pattern is what takes it from "quirky" to "bad" for me. It just looks like the carpet of your local bowling alley.

    20. Rory Gilmore's vintage throwback dress from Gilmore Girls.

    Rory in a blue dress matched with combat boots

    First of all: Love the boots. Second of all: Eh.

    Rory in her dress

    I just can't condone a navy prom dress. Maybe it's my long history of having to wear school uniforms, but I don't associate this color with joyful self-expression.

    Rory sighing in her dress

    19. Erin Quinn's turquoise gown from Derry Girls.

    Erin trying on the dress in the dressing room

    Here's the problem with this outfit: Erin is clearly uncomfortable in it, and that violates the First Commandment of Clothes.

    Erin in her dress

    That's why it's such a relief when she changes out of this perfectly-nice-but-not-Erin dress and into...

    Erin sitting at the table, waiting for her date

    ...her Easter frock. I don't like how this dress looks, nor does Erin, but that's not really the point. She obviously feels way better in it than she did in her blue gown, and that makes it a good outfit.

    Erin coming down stairs in pink dress with white collar

    18. Bella Swan's modest, "I almost died, so yeah I'm wearing leggings to the prom" outfit from Twilight.

    Bella Swan and Edward under a Monte-Carlo Sign

    I know that Bella's been through a lot, and she's dealing with a healing broken leg, but this look is just unforgivably bland.

    Bella wearing her cardigan and standing with Edward

    The movie doesn't dwell on this outfit, because I think it knows it could've done better. The blue tiered dress underneath the cardigan (*shiver*) is fine, but it's more "guest at an acquaintance's wedding" than "teenage girl going out with the immortal love of her life."

    Edward and Bella dancing in the gazebo

    17. Sharpay's hot pink performance dress from High School Musical 3.

    Sharpay in a dress with an uneven bottom and pink feathers adorning the skirt

    I've never seen High School Musical 3, but as far as I can tell, the musical is about their prom? So even though this is a costume, I'm counting it.

    sharpay dancing

    While I love the matching gloves, the rest of the dress isn't working for me. The tulle peaking out of the skirt seems like an afterthought, and since this is Sharpay, after all, I would expect more bedazzling than the few little stones on the bodice.

    Sharpay dancing onstage

    16. Buffy's lavender rhinestoned gown from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Buffy walking into prom

    When I first saw it, I definitely didn't love it, but it's fine. Completely acceptable. And then...

    A close up of the bodice of Buffy's dress

    BAM! It's got a giant train...thing. A bustle? I get the need for drama, but this actively makes the dress worse.

    The back of buffy's dress, with all the fabric gathered behind it

    The reveal of the bustle (I'm just going with it now) happens to coincide with one of the show's most heartwarming moments: Buffy receiving the "Class Protector" award. And to be honest, it's a touch distracting.

    Buffy receives her parasol for Class Protector

    15. Liz's "I'm blissfully ignorant of my father's super-villainy" party dress from Spider-Man: Homecoming.

    Liz in her short red dress

    There's nothing wrong with it, but it's a little plain, and comes across as more "interview" than "party."

    Liz smizing in her dress

    The length and overall shape of it are cute, though. I just wish there was a statement accessory. Maybe something that says, "My dad is an illegal arms dealer, and until that meddling Spider-Man showed up, he was doing pretty well for himself."

    Liz left alone at the prom

    14. Gabriella Montez's fluffy white dress from High School Musical 3.

    Gabriella dancing in the white dress

    Just like Sharpay's look above, this dress is a costume from the high school musical about prom that features prominently in the high school musical High School Musical 3. That makes sense, right?

    Gabriella dancing in her white dress

    I love the thin little feathers attached to this dress, and it has great movement while Gabriella dances. But there's nothing particularly special about it, either. It's the sort of dress you'd try on, like, and then forget about five dresses later.

    Gabriella dancing in her dress

    13. Mercedes' purple gown from Glee.

    Mercedes wearing a purple bejeweled gown

    This dress is definitely of an era (specifically, the late '00s), and while that era may have passed, it's still a statement gown that looks great on Mercedes.

    up close of the bodice, with matching shawl and jeweling

    This is without a doubt a prom dress, as in, it's a dress that would be completely out of place in any scenario other than a high school prom. It's a look you only get one or two chances to pull off, and Mercedes recognized that and delivered.

    Mercedes singing with Santana

    12. Regina George's satin minidress from Mean Girls.

    Regina George sticking flowers onto her neck/spine brace

    It's not quite the bombshell look you'd expect from a Queen Bee, but as Cady points out, Regina still looks this good after fracturing her spine, so credit where credit is due.

    A close up of Regina's minidress

    And the flowers adorning Regina's brace move it from "cute but forgettable" to "movie costume Hall of Famer."

    Flowers adorning Regina George's head brace

    11. Kat Stratford's reluctant prom attendee dress from 10 Things I Hate About You.

    Kat in a long dark blue dress with a shoulder shawl and pearls

    It's sophisticated and mature, like Kat herself, but just a little too drab for my tastes.

    Kat walking up the stairs

    Also, that hair looks like it would be painful. I got an updo for one of my proms, and it wasn't anywhere near as elaborate as Kat's, but I still spent around 30 minutes afterward pulling out bobby pin after endless bobby pin.

    Kat and Patrick point in their prom looks

    10. Santana's mermaid gown from Glee.

    Santana in a mermaid gown that reaches the floor

    Again, this dress is from a period piece, and the period is "10 years ago." But while the ruching is a little extreme, the dress as a whole is dramatic and fun.

    Santana dancing in her red dress

    The single shoulder strap of fake roses is pretty spectacular too.

    Santana performing at her prom

    9. Sandy's simple white dress from Grease.

    sandy sashay-ing in a white dress

    I like this dress because I feel like dresses like this don't really exist anymore, outside of the costume closets of regional theater companies that have recently done Grease.

    Sandy dancing in her dress

    I'm not a big fan of the embellishments around the waist, since they come across as a little flower girl-y, but this dress has so much movement that it just seems fun to wear.

    Sandy and Danny dancing

    8. Toni Topaz's beaded ensemble from Riverdale.

    tni topaz in doorway while wearing beaded top

    I remember trying on dresses like this! The heavily embellished top combined with a chic black skirt make for a glamorous combination.

    up close of toni's beaded top

    I'm biased, because I wore a black prom dress, but can I just say, I love a black prom dress!

    toni's beaded top and bottoms close up while hugging cast member in red dress

    7. Sam Montgomery's Cinderella costume from A Cinderella Story.

    Sam at the top of the stairs at the venue in a huge white ballgown

    This gown is objectively a totally absurd thing to wear to a costume party. But it's sort of magical because of its absurdity.

    A close up of the bodice

    The transition from lace to rhinestones on the bodice is a bit clumsy, though.

    The bodice, with lace on top and then rhinestones underneath

    But the best part of this ensemble is definitely our Cinderella's early 2000s glass slipper: Her star-studded, ankle-holstered cellphone.

    Sam's phone attached to her shoe

    6. Blair Waldorf's gold-embroidered peacock gown from Gossip Girl.

    Blair walking into prom with her date

    This dress is as rich kid ridiculous as you'd expect, and then some. But that doesn't mean it's not beautiful.

    Blair unfolding the dress from a box while her maid watches

    And extremely expensive prep schools always have the best prom queen tiaras.

    Blair wearing an extravagant tiara

    5. Emma and Alyssa's sparkly/retro looks in The Prom.

    emma and alyssa holding hands

    What I like about these outfits is that they take the traditionally masculine (suits, sneakers, a boutonniere)...

    a close up of emma's pant suit

    ...and the traditionally feminine (pink, glitter, a corsage)...

    Alyssa's pink glittery party dress

    ...and then individualize and subvert those traditions to create looks that are equal parts unique, queer, and fun as hell. They're not my personal style, but they're undeniably their characters'.

    Emma and Alyssa sitting on prom thrones

    These outfits also don't take themselves too seriously, which is a common onscreen prom pitfall.

    emma nad alyssa hugging

    4. Tina's second prom dress from Season 5 of Glee.

    Tina in a tea-length pink glittery dress

    So Tina walks into prom wearing this...

    Tina wearing a huge black ballgown

    ...but then she gets doused in red goo, Carrie-style, so she changes into this.

    Tina holding roses and speaking at the microphone in the pink dress

    I love this dress. I love its length, its color, its commitment to its shininess. The only thing I'm not totally on board with is the pieces of unadorned fabric crisscrossing the bodice, but I'm willing to forgive that, because this is adorable.

    Tina singing in the dress

    3. Carrie's sweet pre-telekinetic rampage look from Carrie.

    Carrie receiving flowers and a crown in a long pink dress

    Here's Carrie's (nearly identical) dress from the 2013 remake.

    Carrie, as played by Chloe Grace Moretz, gets ready for prom while her mother watches

    It ends badly for everyone, but I appreciate this look's simplicity. It's pretty, you can dance in it, and it looks great with a crown: What's not to like? (That '70s prom tux. That's what.)

    Carrie becoming prom queen and holding hands with her date

    2. Bianca Stratford's hot pink tutu look from 10 Things I Hate About You.

    biance stratford posibgn with hands clasped

    Folks, it's time for some separates. The crop top + big skirt was a huge prom trend when I was in high school, though I never saw it executed with a floor length tutu, unfortunately.

    Bianca in her two piece prom look, with a big tutu skirt and a matching pink satin top

    The thin silver headband doesn't quite match with the rest of the look (not that that's inherently a problem; it's just, the rest of this look matches).

    Bianca wearing a thin silver headband in her hair while yelling

    And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, the culmination of it all, the crème de la crème of the prom genre, my number-one pick for the best onscreen prom dress...

    1. Cheryl Blossom's bombshell gown from Riverdale.

    Cheryl Blossom wearing a dress with a deep V cut, a sequined bodice, and a tulle skirt

    This dress delivers both in its overall impression and in its details. I love the back, and the bow at the waist is an unexpected (but welcome) nod to an earlier era of prom dresses.

    the details on the back of cheryl blossom's dress

    The drama of this look is exquisite, and not only because she's modeling it in her creepy family mansion. This is the dress you wear for tearful declarations of love, for accepting your Oscar, for getting interviewed before you enter the Hunger Games. Prom is built up, rightly or wrongly, as a big moment in a young person's life, and this dress — nay, this gown — is made for a Big Moment and is itself one.

    cheryl blossom's low cut dress