Title credit for tv show Dallas
Shopping From the Past

Shopping from Television: Dallas

A guest post by Karen Hart

We’ve been watching a lot of television in our house lately. Television is short, moderately and sometimes unintentionally amusing and you don’t have to invest time and energy into enjoying it. Until winter is over this will most likely be our primary form of entertainment. We tried Knot’s Landing a few weeks ago and had so much fun with it that we decided to take on Knot’s‘ big brother, Dallas.

The clothes are more varied on Dallas in comparison to Knot’s. I suppose it has something to do with Dallas being about rich people and Knot’s being about suburbanites, but no one has worn the same thing twice in the 3 episodes we’ve watched so far (I swear, Karen has worn the same red Hawaiian print jumpsuit in 4 episodes of Knot’s). There hasn’t been anything super glamorous, probably because there was no competition from Dynasty until 1981, and yet it’s all stylish. Oddly enough for a late 1970’s night-time soap opera, a lot of it is made of durable fabrics.

These are winter episodes so everyone wears a coat and someone is usually wearing wool. Here bad girl Lucy has a particularly nice zip up parka in light blue with lovely little block print on the white hood and sleeves.

It drops just under her waist, so there’s seat protection from the cold and it’s fitted with a belt for an hourglass shape. Perfect for that long walk home after you’ve tried to frame a teacher for rape.

Puffy coats were just starting to hit their mark in 1978 (only to get the addition of linebacker shoulder pads a few years later) and Pamela has three or four short ones as well as this long version that she wears to the stables because that’s where you’d wear it … I guess …?

… and the short of it. The silk scarf is more fashion than function, but with a collar like that you don’t need much more to keep you cozy. It’s a good, solid sleeping bag style that you can still find at Old Navy today. They’re a little hard to clean (like a sleeping bag), but warm once it starts working with body heat (like … well, you get it).

Pamela also has a sensible wool coat that she wears for visits to see her family in the dive bar on the other side of the tracks. Her brother Cliff is sporting one of the many versions of the sheepskin lined coat, which will get more mention below.

Pamela shows us the tartan lining. Not too heavy, but comfortable and long-lasting.

The men alternate between suede and leather, unless you’re JR and then you wear wool because it’s bad man classy. The double-breast looks just fine on JR, who wants to create a solid, boxy presence when he works his underhanded dealings. Jock, the up-from-nothing millionaire patriarch, is more traditional Texas, wrapped up in nature’s own sheepskin and suede.

Dallas likes to play off the class war while at the same time showing us that the Ewings are really no better than anyone else — they just happen to have more money than anyone else. “All happy families are like one another; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” says Tolstoy. Dallas reverses it — everyone has a drunk relation, an illegitimate child, a black sheep, connivers, etc… They are unhappy-alike in family and fashion. Jock wears sheepskin, but so does Cliff, the poor lawyer trying to take them down. And what’s good for the rich is good for the worker. Here ranch hand Hal has the fanciest sheepskin coat of all.

Much better than Ray’s suede short coat which requires a puffy vest underneath. (Ray, it turns out, is the illegitimate Ewing, which may explain why he alternates between the puffy outdoor everyman vest and the Ewing man Texas suede.)

As to durability, you can see any of these coats out there now, because barring any kind of moth invasion or oil spill, these are all sensible, durable styles. My father bought a sheepskin coat around the same time. It was about $300 at Saks, but he’s had it now for about 30 years and it’s still nice enough to wear to church in the winter. Now that’s a pretty sound investment.

6 thoughts on “Shopping from Television: Dallas”

  1. Thanks! I absolutely agree about the early shows. They’re starting to branch out more now that we’re watching Season 2, and it’s summer so that changes things (JR in safari shirts, Pamela in swimsuits), but still sensible so far. I love Ray. He appears to actually wear working clothes and do real work. Maybe I should have written just on Ray…

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