Jennifer Grey: Dirty Dancing (1987)



It was the Summer of 1963….

I can’t not do a feature on Dirty Dancing. It’s one of my favourite films of all time. It is a classic and I dare every girl to watch this film and not fall in love with Patrick Swayze. The amount of times I have thought ‘maybe I could learn to dance like that’, and yet the only person I end up dancing like is my Dad. Sometimes, I drive around listening to ‘She’s Like The Wind’ and pretend Patrick is serenading me. Too much? Okay, I’ll get on with it….

Now, for those of you who have not seen this film (what is wrong with you?), a 17-year old girl called Frances Houseman, aka ‘Baby’ (Jennifer Grey) visits a family summer camp and embarks on a passionate and romantic relationship with the misunderstood, ‘bad-boy’ dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze). If there was ever an advert for a family summer camp, then this was it. Somehow, I seriously doubt this is what Butlins is like.

I watched Dirty Dancing again recently (maybe four times in a row) and I realised that I have never really appreciated the wardrobe for this film. As much as the dresses in all of the dance scenes are incredible, it’s Baby’s casual day-to-day style that I feel is overlooked. Now, Baby’s character is portrayed a reserved ‘goody-two shoes’ at the start of the film with her wild, curly hair and an awkward nose. She is dressed in oversized shirts, denims and lots and lots of white. Perhaps this is to represent her innocence or ‘purity’. It’s no coincidence that Johnny is always dressed head-to-toe in black, with his leather jacket and tank tops. Either that or he is shirtless. Baby’s wardrobe subtly changes with her character. We start seeing her in shorter denim shorts, knotted shirts and a touch of lipstick. Ultimately, she starts to show a bit more skin.





The costume design is so well thought out in this film that we see Baby is numerous outfits but the viewer does not even notice the amount of changes. Each item she wears reflects her casual, simplistic style that seems so effortless. Dirty Dancing was filmed in the late 80’s yet it is set in the late 60’s and this is worth bearing in mind when looking at style. Her sister Lisa (Jane Brucker) is painted as the more fashionable one, representing dresses of that era with petticoat skirts, nipped in at the waist. Whereas Baby is usually in her white plimsols, denims and floaty shirts. Her style in this film is timeless and there are so many looks that we can take inspiration from that are perfect for Spring/Summer 2014




I was pained to hear years after watching Dirty Dancing for the first time that Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze actually despised one another. They have this natural chemistry on screen that we as the audience truly believe in. Apparently, it was almost impossible to film as they were constantly bickering on set. The film went on to become iconic and was arguably the start of of Partick’s heart-throb status, paving the way for his future success. Jennifer Grey had a nose job and struggled to find work afterwards, as she was so unrecognisable. She looks fantastic either way and I don’t think there is anyone else that could have played Baby the way she did.

Below I have put together some items that I think really embody Baby’s style and fashion sense. Click on the images to view a full gallery. Remember, nobody puts Baby in a corner!


Get The Look:

(Click to view gallery)




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