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Flashdance Star Reveals Iconic Cutoff Sweatshirt Look Was Total Accident

Jennifer Beals reveals the cutoff sweatshirt she wears in the iconic poster for Flashdance was the result of an accidental laundry mishap that turned into a fashion trend of the 1980s. The movie was one of the biggest box office hits of 1983, raking in over $200 million and an Academy Award for its titular song. Though a sequel has long been discussed, a sequel television series for Flashdance was announced by Paramount+ to be developed through Dear White People creator Justin Simien.

Flashdance tells the story of Beals’ Alex, a steel mill worker who dreams of being a professional ballerina. The film was stylized like the music videos of the period and went on to inspire the aesthetic of other musical dramas from the ’80s, including Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Purple Rain. Though not critically well-received upon release, the film has gained a cult following with some of its elements (including the poster) regarded as icons of the era.

In an appearance on The Tonight Show, host Jimmy Fallon brings out the poster and asks Beals about the origin of the look. Beals explains that she shrunk her favorite sweatshirt in the dryer, necessitating her cutting a hole in the neck to get her head through. She then wore it to a wardrobe fitting for Flashdance, impressing the director and costume designer, and galvanizing them to use it as the poster for the movie. Read Beals’ quote below:

It was based on a fashion accident. I had my favorite sweatshirt in high school, and I put it in the dryer for too long and at really high heat. So the neck part shrunk, and I couldn’t get my head through it, so I just cut out the hole. And I wore it to a wardrobe fitting for Flashdance, and Adrian Lyne, the director, really loved it, and Michael Caplan, the costume designer loved it, so he made a much better version of it for the film.

How Flashdance’s Poster Defines Its Legacy

It’s amazing how many icons of film history are the result of accidents, limitations, or coincidences. Beals’ matter-of-fact recounting of the story speaks to how ordinary the circumstances were, and something so stylistically emblematic of the decade could occur simply because she didn’t want to throw away her sweatshirt. The look would go on to stir a lot of female-driven fashions of the 1980s, including more loose-fitting clothing and a more casual feel.

In an industry so saturated with content, it’s hard to pick looks from movies that had such a cultural impact as Beals did through Flashdance. Even with Parmount+ bringing Flashdance to the small screen, it’s doubtful it would have anything close to the impact the original did in 1983 and instead will only serve as yet another vehicle for nostalgia. In the end, Beals may have altered her sweatshirt by accident, but the result led to one of the most defining images of the 1980s, whose impact was felt for years after.

Source: The Tonight Show

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