Fashion in Film: Dirty Dancing


Hello, LDV readers! My name is Jessica Amento, and I am typing to you from the heart of Los Angeles, where I carry on as a freelance fashion writer (The Zoe Report, Refinery29) and hopeful screenplay scribe.

As a close follower of these pages for years, I am fired up to introduce my new series: “Fashion In Film”. In this column, we will take a look at timeless movies with iconic wardrobes, and translate our findings into something readily shoppable. Sounds like fun, ya? YEAH! Okay, let’s get started…


(Johnny and Penny, played by Cynthia Rowles, entertaining the lodge guests long before Dancing In The Stars was cool.)

Up first: Dirty Dancing! Possibly my favorite movie ever, the Emile Adrolino-directed summer flick about ingénue Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey) falling in love and coming into her own at camp, is currently making its rounds on the outdoor screening circuit.

While recently watching it for the umpteenth time in between food truck bites, a few things dawned on me: 1. 80’s Patrick Swayze is even hotter than I remember. Arguably hotter than 90’s Leo. 2. The soundtrack is all I want to listen to for the rest of the summer. 3. The wardrobe is totally relevant to right now.


(Baby earning her way into the after-hours dance scene by way of a watermelon; pictured with Billy played by Neal Jones.)

Set in 1963, the female characters are clad in crop tops, midi dresses and classic denim of my flea market-foraging dreams. Though I can’t firsthand speak for the rest of the country, a snapshot of contemporary LA confirms we Angelenos are all desperate to channel this era. Seriously, if you’re ever in town, scope out Harvard & Stone on a Friday night and you’ll see a hundred Baby Houseman wannabes getting down—the only thing missing will be a giant watermelon accessory. (Note: a quick Instagram search of #watermelon proves the oversized fruit is having its own moment too.)


(Johnny giving Baby the come-hither finger.)

While our focus here is on the leading ladies’ wardrobes, it’s impossible to overlook Johnny Castle’s (Patrick Swayze) cool-guy costumes as well. Not only a great cheat sheet for your boyfriends, leather jackets, undone shirts and Ray-Bans are equally covetable to your closets also.

Keeping in mind that dance moves are sold separately, I invite you now to scope out and shop some of the movie’s most standout moments below!


(Johnny and Baby’s first dance. Oh snap.)


(Penny telling Baby not to envy her while looking flawless in an off-the-shoulder floral top situation.)


(Penny taking money from Baby while once again stealing the show via a halter maxi and wide metallic belt.)


(Penny and Johnny showing Baby the ropes; if Penny’s leotard makes you want to watch Flashdance next, you’re not alone.)


(Baby wears makeup…and cuffs her Levi’s!)


(Baby getting frustrated that she isn’t learning the routine quickly enough, but who cares? THOSE ABS!)


(Nobody puts Baby in a corner…but you can put her into a lake fully clothed.)


(Johnny and Baby falling in love. Shout-out to Keds!)


(Johnny and Baby pictured just before the grand finale; Baby’s ladylike dress making a serious case for the color pink.)

dd finale

(Baby mastering the lift and showing off strappy metallic sandals to boot. Don’t try this at home kids.)





{1. Topshop Gingham Top | 2. Frances Silk Cropped Shirt | 3. Levi’s Jean Shorts | 4. Paige Kylie Crop Jeans | 5. Michael Kors Boyfriend Cardigan | 6. McQ Alexander McQueen Leather Jacket | 7. Keds Champion Sneakers | 8. Ray-Ban Classic Wayfarers | 9. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Flo Dress | 10. Alice & Olivia Mini Lace Dress | 11. Edie Parker Jean Watermelon Pearl Effect Clutch | 12. Miu Miu T-Strap Metallic Sandals}

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Tell Me What You Think! leave a comment...

  1. That movie is about people having sex with their clothes on…good music..not one I would want my young children to watch….

    1. Shirley, you’re right that it definitely isn’t a movie for children! I remember being in elementary school and hearing about it from my friends, but my mom wouldn’t let me watch it. I finally did many years later.

      I think Jessica did a great job of capturing what most people love about this movie.

  2. Lest we forget that Penny was also in fact also in Flashdance, in several leotards. I watched them both on a loop along with Footloose and Grease.