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Samantha Brown

All About Sandy's Grease Costume

There are few movies that instill a longing for “the good old days” in us than it does in Grease. Though set in the 1950s, multiple generations have enjoyed the music, the story, and the love between the infamous Danny and Sandy. There is just something about Grease that makes us crave summer time, the excitement of a brand new high school year, T-bird jackets, and a thick, old-fashioned milkshake. One of the most memorable scenes in the movies is the one where Sandy, who has been prim and proper for the entire film, shows up in a skin tight, leather outfit for the closing act with a new hairstyle on her head, the silver-tone belt, and a cigarette in hand. Below, we will discuss Sandy’s Grease costume in detail from the elastic waist pants to the Grease lightnin’ faux leather jacket and beyond.

Throughout the movie, Danny and his social circle represent an important subculture in the ‘50s: The Greaser. Sandy, on the other hand, was portrayed as a prim and proper “goodie two-shoes” or a girl jock and many nice girls wanted that Sandy costume known as the Sandy Grease costume. The Greaser subculture was considered rebellious, cool, and nonchalant. They enjoyed hot rods, motorcycles and rock & roll. Many of the popular icons of the time (for example Elvis and James Dean) took up this Greaser image with a too cool for school attitude and slicked back hair. Marlon Brando’s character in the 1953 film “The Wild One” also catapulted the fashion and attitude of the Greaser subculture into popularity. This fashion was particularly popular with teens coming from middle-low income families. Often the man of the house would be a tradesman or a mechanic.

One of the trademarks of this group was smoking. At the time, smoking was already far more popular than it is today due to rising concerns about the impact of cigarettes on our health. Combined with the fact that many of these families were from a lower social economic class and the parents likely smoked, having a cigarette in your hand was deemed the ultimate Greaser accessory. In this era, smoking would be considered undoubtedly cool. In the movie Grease, the cigarette was one of the major sources of conflict between Danny and Sandy. At the end, in a show of compromise Sandy enters with a cigarette in her mouth. As she is an obvious non-smoker, she needs her cool friends, the pink ladies to show her the hip way of twisting out the lit cigarette with her shoe.

Sandy was also sporting a new ‘do. Greasers were actually primarily named for their hairstyles, with the men liking to slick their hair back a-la-Elvis. They used wax, pomade, and even petroleum jelly to achieve this look. They also always had a comb on hand. Girl greasers, however, favored big curls and teased hair, which was the look Sandy decided on to surprise Danny. Luckily for her, she had a beauty school drop out on hand!

Another defining feature of the greaser culture was sexuality and promiscuity. It was common for these youth to engage in more casual sexual encounters. Women would often wear tight, sexy clothes that showed off their bodies. This is an obvious feature of Sandy’s Grease costume for the final scene. In fact, Olivia Newton John revealed that she had to be sewn into the skin-tight ensemble to film the final scene. Her off-the-shoulder top and red lipstick are also reminiscent of 1950’s pin-up fashion. To achieve this look today, there are a variety of leggings that girls can choose from. From genuine leather to less expensive (and cruelty-free) pleather and even shiny spandex, women can easily re-create this painted-on look in a modern fashion.

The only part of Sandy’s outfit that wasn’t black? Those red high heels! In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe helped popularize the mule, a style of backless high heel, which feature in Sandy’s final costume. Mules had, in fact, been considered un-wearable, as they had been a popular fashion among prostitutes. They were also slippery and difficult to wear with stockings (and, in this era, women rarely went without pantyhose in a skirt). Luckily for the mule, Marilyn Monroe took a liking to them, re-popularizing the shoe style as well as riding it of its unsavory reputation. Boy greasers often wore boots made for riding motorcycles of Converse All-Stars, a shoe still popular today.

The most important part of a Greaser’s whole ensemble is a leather jacket, which, of course, Sandy dons in the final scene. This aspect of the Greaser subculture comes from the popularity and commonality of motorcycle and classic car culture among this group. Not only would a lot of these boys’ fathers be trades people or mechanics, but also car racing was extremely popular in the ‘50s. Bikers were also gaining a reputation as being “outside the law”, largely due to the character played by Marlon Brando in the movie “The Wild One”. Coincidentally, this character is also considered the epitome of the Greaser persona and is part of the reason for the popularity of the subculture. Motorcycle riders often wear leather to prevent their skin from being torn up in case of a fall, hence the leather jacket being an indispensable part of any Greaser uniform.

The final scene of “Grease” is a memorable one for anyone who’s seen the movie. At its mere mention, a high-pitched “I’ve got chills, they’re multiplying” rings through our heads. Not only do Sandy and Danny finally and conclusively makeup and decide they’re going to be together, having both compromised their image for the other person, but the scene is iconic in itself for bringing up whimsy and memories of our own last day of high school. Every piece of Sandy’s final outfit has a reason for being and the costume is accurate as a nod to the Greaser culture that was so popular among the youth of the ‘50s.

Whether you are trying to recreate this look, wish to add a little to your wardrobe, or looking for a great Halloween costume with a real 50’s throwback, the Sandy Grease costume is ideal.

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