80s prom dresses

Proof that the 80s were one of fashion’s greatest decades. Or not…

Let me start off by saying, I’m not a hoarder. At least I don’t think I am. I am, however, the keeper of my family’s archives. I’ve got my mom’s old scrapbooks (including her honeymoon one!), her wedding dress and dance costumes from when I was a wee lass. It takes some effort to keep these mementoes – where to store them, how to store them properly, etc… but I think it’s  worth with it.


Yours truly was the MC of her Junior High School grad. But that posture!

Take a look at these beauties. As you can see, I was a gal who came of age in the 80s. I had not one, not two, but three grad dresses! There’s that polyester peach number (above) for my Junior High Grad.

We drove all the way to West Edmonton Mall to hunt that down! Then there’s a lilac-hued Christian Lacroix bubble skirt knock off I had made by a local seamstress.

That was when I was in Grade 11 and smugly attended grad as the date of a super tall dude. My actual, official grad dress was a bit, well, let’s just say I don’t have the same sense of style. See below…

wedding dress dry cleaning

Me and my bestie (same gal from the Grade 9 pic) in our Gr. 12 grad dresses.

My actual grad dress was another Vogue knock off I had custom made. The design itself was pretty fun. It’s the colour combination that’s regrettable. As is painfully obvious, I was in the throes of a purple and red phase. Making matter’s worse, my mom had our seamstress make a bow tie for my date and it was massive. Poor guy!

wedding dress dry cleaning

I actually still love my wedding dress and don’t cringe when I see pictures of it.

Because I kept all three grad dresses, you know I was going to keep my wedding dress. Again, I knocked off another design (Virgin Bride in London) and had it made in my hometown. I was happy with it, especially because I found some silver silk (or maybe it was satin?), which was way more me than washed out white. Anyway, the dress had a bit of a train, we’re not talking Princess Diana here, but it fishtailed out behind me.

Naturally, our April wedding day came with a light dusting of snow that morphed into muddy sidewalks by mid afternoon. We had the brilliant idea of walking to James Joyce after our pictures at the Fairmont Palliser were finished.

As much as I tried to hold up my skirt, it got soiled. But I was newly married! I was a glowing bride! I was tipsy! I really didn’t care.

wedding dress dry cleaning

I’m actually glad we had that buffer of time between the wedding, pictures and our reception. I don’t know if I’d go back to the Joyce, tho…

Wedding dress dry cleaning fail

After our honeymoon (Cuba, two full weeks, super fun), I took my dress into the little dry cleaner down the block. I’d had a great relationship with them, but in hindsight, I was only dropping off winter coats and shirts to be pressed.

They got the mud stains out of my dress no problem, but they total bungled pressing the train. It suddenly had this major crease in it. And I mean major. It didn’t even match the seam. It was so obvious, I didn’t take the dress home.

I had them re-do it, which they did, but it still wasn’t right. So I had them press it for a third time and still, it wasn’t smooth. It was then I gave up. I was annoyed, but more with myself.

I know I like to preserve memories. I’m the person who kept her mother’s wedding dress. (Even though the last time I fit into it, I was 14-years-old.) So why didn’t I get the most special dress of my life cared for properly?

wedding dress dry cleaning

What little girl doesn’t love dressing up in her mom’s wedding dress?

Grad or wedding dress preservation

Ladies, if you’re spending the money on a knock ‘em dead dress, you want to treat it carefully. You want to cover it with a garment bag, so it doesn’t get dusty. You want to hang it properly. You may even wish to store it in an acid-free box. Most importantly, you want to clean it in a way that preserves the integrity of the design and the fabric.

You don’t want a situation like my girlfriend who had her grad dress (black some with some kind of swirly gold design) ruined. I don’t know what happened to it, but I distinctly remember it came out as gold splotches. After one wear, her dress was ruined. (Back in the day we did wear our grad dresses more once.)

When you have a valuable item of clothing, you actually don’t want to get it dry cleaned, you want to get it wet cleaned. Traditional dry cleaning uses a ton of chemicals (and known carcinogens). Wet cleaning is a solvent free, non-toxic way to clean clothing.

Wedding dress dry cleaning

My mom had a double wedding with her sister, but they each had their own bridal party and colour theme.

Fun fact about me: Every time I go get wrapping paper from our basement closet, I smile. That’s where I keep my grad dresses and my mom’s wedding dress. It’s not a high traffic spot, (as per Marie Kondo), but it’s somewhere where my memories aren’t forgotten. I don’t expect my daughter to ever wear these dresses, but that’s not the point. It’s a physical reminder of a rite of passage. And it means always having the best get up for retro parties. You know I do!