Welcome back to "My Impressionable Mind," where I look at films and books of my youth that influenced my fashion sense, for better or for worse. (Usually worse.)
In my household, the word "Swayze" is a proper noun, an adjective, and a verb. The correct usage goes something like this: "In which movie do you think Patrick Swayze was at his Swayziest?" Or, after watching Road House, you could say, "I totally just got Swayzied." So, let me ask you, my friends: "Are you ready to get Swayzied?"
I very clearly remember the first time I got Swayzied. It was with the movie Dirty Dancing. (Duh.) I must have been around 12 years old and a friend's mother said I could watch Dirty Dancing with her daughter as long as I got my mom's permission. My mom acquiesced, with the caveat: "As long as you understand that what the people in the movie are doing is wrong." I have to say that the abortion subplot, as well as the idea of premarital sex was way over my head at that point, so I assumed she just meant the naughty dancing. But many subsequent viewings of this movie have made it clear to me just how much this movie has influenced me. (Sorry, Mom.)
Due to all the old emotions I have surrounding this movie as well as fresh sadness at the recent passing of Mr. Swayze, this is a film that I'm incapable of seeing through fresh eyes. It is just as awesome now as the first time I saw it. However, I am capable of talking about the clothes, which is what we're here to do anyway.
The plot to this movie needs no introduction, so let's get right into the fashion. (If you're not familiar with the plot of Dirty Dancing, stop reading this and rent it right now. Be sure to ask your mom first, though.)
Dirty Dancing was made in 1987, and it's set in 1963. One common theme I'm seeing in favorite movies of my childhood is that they're all set in times gone by. But in totally inaccurate ways. The producers of Dirty Dancing didn't even try to make it authentic to its period. Seriously, this is supposed to be 1963?
I love a makeover montage, and Dirty Dancing has one of the best. Jennifer Grey, as Baby Houseman, goes from drab to fab. Actually she goes from clothed to practically nude. (Fully nude comes just a bit later.) Watch the amazing shrinking clothes!
Baby's sister Lisa is pretty much solely responsible for making the movie look like it's set in the early 60's.
Patrick Swayze, as Johnny Castle (best character name ever!), wears a variation of the same costume throughout the whole movie (at least when he's not in his fancy dancing togs), most likely due to how awesome he looks in it.
The best costume, though, is the one that Baby wears in the final dance, which is also the most amazing dance scene EVER. I loved that even though Baby thought Johnny was gone for good, she still dressed to dance. See how much Johnny Castle changed her?
In a rare moment of historical accuracy, Baby wore a crinoline and seamed stockings.
But then the hair! It's magnificent, even if anachronistic.
There's really so much to say about Dirty Dancing. But, in the end, all I can really say is this: Thank you, Patrick Swayze. For making this world a hell of a lot Swayzier.