Whether raising money for charity, going to the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater, dancing the night away, or attending a fancy dinner party, The Golden Girls loved any opportunity for glamour! Some of my favorite moments from the show are when the Girls get all dressed up, so let’s take a look at some of the gorgeous gowns worn by Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia throughout the series.
While all of the Girls are stunning in their sequined dresses in the hilarious banquet scene of “The Flu” in season one, you may have forgotten about Sophia’s gown. She accepts the Best Friend of the Friends of Good Health award in a flowy, black chiffon skirt with an elaborately decorated blouse. I think it features sequins, beads, AND rhinestones! The overall effect is extremely glittery. Sparkle, Sophia, sparkle! Honestly, this dress deserves its own award because it’s unique for Sophia throughout the entire series.
In the “Ladies of the Evening” episode of season two, the Girls get caught up in a sting at the hotel while on their way to the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater. It’s a comedy of errors that lands them in jail where Dorothy pretends to have spent time at a men’s prison and Rose shares her bitter butter memories. All three are dressed to impress, but I think Blanche is the real standout here in this pastel, layered chiffon number. This is also the episode where she delivers one of her most quoted lines: “Quiet, you trash!” The gowns in this scene are flowy and subdued, in purposeful contrast to the garish and over-the-top outfits of the sex workers. This is such an 80s way to stage things in a sitcom, but the humor makes it work.
My goodness there’s a lot of shoulder pads in this scene from “Diamond in the Rough” in season two! But someday I’m going to go to a holiday party and wear a gold twin set and lame skirt like Sophia. In fact, it’s such a beautiful ensemble that Sophia wears it two more times in the following season. We see it at the end of the “Dorothy’s New Friend” episode and again paired with a black velvet top in “Charlie’s Buddy.” Blanche’s shoulders are accentuated in this 80s-does-40s gown to almost comical effect. It’s a perfect match for her ridiculous behavior. The brooch is an interesting touch as well. Dorothy’s dress recalls the one that she was planning to wear in “The Flu” and overall is a favored style for her. She always looks so becoming in navy blue. In writing this post I also noticed just how often Rose chooses this style of gown with a longer bodice. Perhaps she thought it made her look taller?
Three to tango
Rose’s pink dress from this scene in “One for the Money” in season three is so beautifully timeless that it was worn thrice on the show! Watch for it on background characters in both “Witness” and “The Case of the Libertine Bell.” It features a lovely belt that you can’t see in this photo, but watch for it in all the actual scenes. The dance contest is one of the most memorable of the series, and it also gives a chance to talk about shoes for a minute! Dorothy wears flats, of course. They suit her, and that’s absolutely fine. There’s nothing wrong with flats! But I do love that we get some close ups of Blanche and Rose’s metallic dancing shoes in this scene! I’m not sure how Blanche’s shoes stayed on her feet since they’re more of a mule style. Rose wisely chose a tango shoe considering the cartwheels she stuns everyone with on the dance floor.
A few episodes later in “Charlie’s Buddy” the B storyline involves some hilarious who-wore-it-better moments between Dorothy and Blanche. Sophia gets in on the action, too, at the end of the episode. I think we can all agree that Dorothy unquestionably wore the peach dress better. The draped, floor length style is pretty unflattering on Blanche and helps explain why we almost never see her in gowns like this. Although, to be fair, this is one of the most unusual gowns on the show. Blanche often teases Dorothy about her appearance, but this moment highlights how each Girl embraced the styles that worked best for her.
As we’ve seen, Rose loves gowns with a more relaxed. This choice is so interesting to me because I think it really typifies the 1980s glamour style for older women but also because we so often see Rose in day dresses with very defined waists, reminiscent of the 1950s. Although it’s a similar style, I really wanted to find another gown that stood out from the rest so I landed on this lace number from “The Artist” episode in season three. Again, the silhouette is long and relaxed, with almost no tailoring through the waist or hips. The lace and ruffled hem are different choices for her, along with the teal color. There’s also a sort of puffball flower thing with a length of chiffon flowing down the left shoulder. She’s almost somewhat overdressed, too, compared to Blanche and Dorothy who are in pants.
I don’t know why, but I just really love this dress on Blanche in “The One That Got Away” from season four. The neckline with the flower at the center recalls the dress she wore back in season one when Big Daddy came to visit for the first time, which makes sense considering she’s wearing it here to for a date with a man from her past, Ham Lushbaugh. She definitely doesn’t look like the night hostess at Denny’s here, and we don’t see her in black very often. The gathered chiffon off-the-shoulder neckline that leads into the ruffle down the center of the gown is also unique for Blanche.
Take that, Gladys Goldfine!
Of course “An Illegitimate Concern” in season five is known for being the Sonny and Cher episode, but I absolutely adore the shiny gowns that Dorothy and Sophia wore for the Shady Pines Mother-Daughter Beauty Contest. Dorothy’s hair is exceptionally beautiful here, too. The softer waves really suit her. And the dress is a total Joan Crawford moment in terms of the shoulder pads. I also love the way that the neckline of Sophia’s dress is made just a touch asymmetrical. These dresses are total Old Hollywood glamour.
Beautiful in blue
The dark blue dress that Dorothy wears in “What A Difference A Date Makes” from season six again recalls both the one that she was planning to wear in “The Flu” and the one from “Diamond In the Rough.” I think this one is the more refined and elegant option, though. I love that the shoulder pads are more subtle here and enhance the draping of the fabric rather than overemphasizing her shoulders. And the wrist corsage! The Girls always had them for truly special occasions.
There’s A LOT going on in “The Case of the Libertine Belle” from the final season, including the aforementioned pink dress of Rose’s and another of Blanche’s most quoted lines: “I’m from the south. Flirting is part of my heritage!” But what I love is that Blanche shows up in this completely over the top fuchsia ruffled cocktail dress and nobody thinks it’s out of place. Rue’s shoulders, though! And really she must have had quite the skincare routine in her day because her neck and décolletage are absolutely stunning. Rose wears a gorgeous beaded cream gown that really lights up this scene. We also see Sophia in a black sequined gown that features a lovely beaded collar accent.
These gorgeous gowns are all perfect examples of how fashion helped to emphasize so many memorable moments on The Golden Girls. The glam moments also remind us that the Girls always lived life to the fullest and never let anything stop them. For Dorothy, Rose, Blanche, and Sophia age truly is just a number.