If you were a teenager growing up in the ’80s or ’90s (or ’00s, or now), there’s no doubt you have a soft spot for John Hughes movies. It’s hard to believe his classic, “The Breakfast Club,” took place 30 years ago this week. While we love Hughes’ entire catalog of Brat Pack-centric films, it was always “Pretty in Pink” that stood out to us. Yeah, the story is great — working-class girl meets preppy-but-sensitive boy — but what we really love about this flick is the fashion. And with prom season coming up, what better time to take a look at the inspiring style of this late-’80s teen classic?
Starring Molly Ringwald, John Cryer, Annie Potts, and Andrew McCarthy (and a very slimy James Spader), “Pretty in Pink” follows a pretty tried and true teen film plot-line: high school senior Andie (Ringwald) hails from the wrong side of the tracks, and, along with her friend Duckie (Cryer), is at the lowest rung of the school clique ladder. That position doesn’t stop misunderstood prepster Blaine (McCarthy) from developing a pretty solid crush on her, however, and — in defiance of cool kid king Steff’s (Spader) objections — eventually asks her to prom. Throughout the film, Andie is accompanied by her friend Iona, and Duckie (who is not-so-subtly nursing a crush of his own).
While Andie’s look is solidly ’80s — think piles of pastels, rhinestones, and ruffles — it’s the supporting characters whose style really shines. Duckie’s look is one part teddy boy, one part ’80s new wave, with lots of bolero ties, prints, patterns, and his signature winkle-pickers. We’ll admit, despite seeing this movie over a dozen times, it’s hard not to root for Duckie just a little bit with each new viewing (with his lip-synching skills, how could you not?).
Iona’s style, on the other hand, runs the gamut, from ’40s throwback to hardcore punk, and we love her fearless combinations and costume changes. She states in the film that she’s 15 years older, and the age difference is made clear in the unapologetic way she switches from one look to another. Her transformation from quirky-chic to buttoned-up, all for love towards the end of the film is a tough pill to swallow.
And that’s what makes this movie stand out. The “prom transformation flick” is just a drop in the teen movie genre sea, and so many of them feature the main character changing for love. While Iona is content to alter her look for a new relationship, Andie’s refusal to fit in and swap her style is refreshing.
The prom itself plays a pretty minor role. but we’d be remiss to exclude it. After all, this is where Duckie’s style truly shines. An onyx bolero and flocked smoking jacket? High school formals have never looked so good. And while we’re personally partial to Andie’s dress before she restyles it, her creativity and faithfulness to her personal aesthetic is laudable.
Do you have a favorite prom film of the past? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our curated collection of unique prom looks.