Fashion in Film: Gidget, the Original Surfer Girl


I don’t remember the first time I saw Gidget— it’s just always been one of my beloved summer staples. And what’s not to love? The movie is full of dreamy guys (often without their shirts), covetable swimsuits, and adorable dresses. Not to mention a few musical numbers and lots of shots of the ocean.

Frances Lawrence, better known as Gidget, is left out in the cold when her friends decide to spend their summer “man-hunting” and decide that she’s just a flat-chested dead weight in their efforts.



But she’s not the kind of girl to let that get her down. She goes for a swim, but gets tangled in the kelp. Luckily, surfer Moondoggie hears her cries for help and rescues her. The surfers make it clear that she’s not welcome, but the rush of surfing is the “absolute ultimate,” so she buys a surf board and convinces their leader, a surf-bum named Kahuna, to let her stick around.



Her first day goes well, but she gets tangled in kelp (apparently it’s dangerous stuff) during her initiation into the group. Moondoggie rescues her again, and Gidget finds herself finally understanding why her friends were so willing to chase after love. She ends up having to spend weeks in bed with laryngitis. With the help of a pile of books and her one remaining friend, she manages to teach herself to surf in her bedroom, but Moondoggie is still not interested.




With summer winding to a close, she’s only got one chance left to win him over, so she pays another of the guys to act as her escort to the end-of-the-season luau. But as her luck would have it, her would-be date ends up making other plans, and Moondoggie steps up to help her make her target jealous.



She’s a straightforward girl, but she’s also 17, so she tells him that she’s set her sights on Kahuna. Their date gets a bit real, but when time is up, Gidget bolts. Kahuna, who usually sleeps on the beach, asks for a ride to his buddy’s beach house so he can get some rest while the party continues. Still trying to save face, Gidget asks to come inside. Moondoggie follows them, and she runs off while Kahuna and Moondoggie get into a fistfight. By the time she finally gets home, she’s ready to give up and never see any of them again.


Then her father, who desperately wants to help his little girl, sets her up on a date with the son of one of his business associates. And of course, it’s Moondoggie. She’s not very happy to see him.


They go for a drive and end up back at the beach, where Kahuna is tearing down the shack that he’s lived in all summer. He’s decided to get a job, settle down, and start looking toward the future. After they say goodbye to him, Gidget and Moondoggie finally come clean about their feelings for each other, and walk down the beach hand in hand.

+ What’s your favorite end-of-summer movie? Is there anything we should rush to watch before summer is over?

About Jamie

Jamie loves reading and writing, and she's especially fond of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She also enjoys RPGs (both tabletop and console), crocheting, baking, and hiking, and she's passionate about unicorns, tea, flannel shirts, novelty socks, and William Shatner.

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  1. Charli 09/05/2014 at 12:06 pm #

    How have I never seen this movie????

  2. 'Becca'lise Deveaux 09/06/2014 at 8:37 am #

    Good fashion in this one, but WAY more fabulous fashion in the sequel Gidget Goes Hawaiian!

  3. krystalons 09/09/2014 at 5:20 pm #

    Surely…the 50’s had to have been a really decent decade for young women! I mean, everything…even the apparel had seemed appropriate, and clean-cut. Hair was neatly well groomed, and the way of dressing had to have been a little different….after all, it was the 1950’s for cryin’ out loud! Women had to look polished, and neat!

  4. Jessica 10/31/2014 at 7:02 pm #

    I remember watching this with my Mum and sisters when I was about 5 or six. I should re-watch it sometime, I’d probably enjoy it more now.

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