Clothes from 1950s,  Girls in Films,  Premium

Grease: The ‘Pink Ladies’ Wear it Well

What young girl doesn’t want to be in the ‘Pink Ladies’ after seeing Grease (1978)?

They are synonymous by their satin-lined powder pink baseball-style jacket, ‘Pink Ladies’ embroidered in black scrawl on the reverse, their name on the front, worn mostly with the collar up for that rebellious touch. Celebrating impurity, they are one of the most popular and imitated girl gangs on screen. Being ‘pink’ is a sarcastic and perhaps sexual allusion.

Specialist websites suggest for a Pink Lady we need their jacket and a poodle skirt, but what do the girls really wear and why? Rizzo, the Pink Ladies’ leader, is studied HERE, with this article focusing on Frenchy, Marty and Jan. All gum-cracking Pink Ladies (100,000 sticks of bubblegum used during filming!) have own reasons for singling themselves out as a clique. As individuals they differ and hence have their unique way of dressing. This was a notorious time for American teenagers when they began to have their own style rather than their parents’, later influencing British teen fashion.

It is squeaky-voiced Frenchy who is seen first, clad with PL jacket over shoulders, peachy plaid zip-front blouse, peach-yellow below calf-length pencil skirt, apricot chiffon scarf knotted to side of neck (very on-trend now, Western cowboy style), matching cardigan and wide burnt umber leather cinch with circular fastening, and pink pumps. Warm, fruity pastels for Frenchy, echoing her warm heart here, compared to Marty’s cool blues, Rizzo’s black and Jan’s grey. But Frenchy’s form-fitting outfits suggest she is no ingénue; she didn’t get the nickname ‘Frenchy’ being good.

Frenchy’s experimental style, eccentric red hair with array of hair-slides and flamboyant make-up show her fascination with fashion and appearance, thus desiring to be a beautician.

She constantly checks her pancake compact with beautifully manicured and painted nails, and attends to the others’ beauty needs. She isn’t clever, but her constant cheerful demeanour, profound listening skills and unrelenting poise have taken practise (the adorable actress Didi Conn actually taking work experience at a beauty school). It is fitting that she clutches a red folder unlike the other ‘Ladies’ who rarely bother. Frenchy thinks to the future and desperately wants to succeed.

For Frankie Avalon to humiliate Frenchy must be the end of her world. We see Frenchy in her ever-professional yet fitted peach-yellow short-sleeved shirt dress with pencil-style skirt , ‘La Coiffure’ (beauty school) sewn on the pocket. With oft-present white cincher, apricot cardigan over shoulders and white beads for that touch of elegance, as Frenchy wouldn’t be classy enough for pearls. Hunched over, huge red scarf clipped to her head, Frenchy reveals underneath her hot pink tinting class failure, much to the viewing audience’s delight.

‘Beauty School Drop-Out’, a trippy yet hilarious dream sequence, involves the other Pink Ladies and Grease female dancers floating and singing mock-dreamily around Frenchy’s guardian angel, evidently having fled her beauty salon.

Wearing silver Marge Simpson-esque torpedo roller wigs, sparkling caped ‘angelette’ smock dresses and silver stiletto-heeled delicate sandals drying out their long pinky-red nails and immaculate make-up, it is ironic that the Pink Ladies are dressed angelically, adding humour to the scene.

Now blonde, Doody tells Frenchy at the dance-off she looks like “a beautiful blonde pineapple”, ad-libbed by actor Barry Pearl. She looks the sweet and fanciful girl she is in a lemon chiffon (another fruity colour) dress with two sets of thin straps in lemon and lilac covered in ruffles, silvery bits, red and green florals, yellow bow with red bow on top to one side of her hoiked-up cleavage and thin red waistband going out into a wide skirt.

This, paired with lemon feathers and lilac flowers in her hair, white chiffon wrist gloves with red ribbon to the cuff, little silver pouch purse and lemon t-bar high-heels, is fussy, yet romantic and so Frenchy. She would have perused fashion magazines, discovered these were ‘in vogue’ for a prom queen, and worn them all at once.

Sex kitten Marty Maraschino sees herself as the sultry, seductive Pink Lady. Her clothes accentuate her to-die-for body – first she wears PL jacket, girly pale pink cashmere v-neck (her v-neck and scooped neck sweaters are voluptuous rather than revealing, possibly wearing a conical-stitched bra underneath, as “foam domes” were common-place in the 1950s), dark blue cincher and matching pencil skirt, small tight chiffon scarf around neck, leather frame handbag and flats.

Soft-featured Marty wears delicate jewellery, e.g. fine gold love-heart necklace and ring, all chosen perfectly compared to Frenchy’s clutter. Notice how her virgin pin, mentioned at Frenchy’s sleepover, is significantly unworn.

With her impeccable style and big, glamourous hair, Marty seems to model herself on film stars of the day. Although confident in her looks, she has her own insecurities as demonstrated with those jewel-encrusted, fashionable cat-eyed sunglasses, asking “don’t you think they make me look smarter”? At face value, Marty may be classy but once she speaks there is little there.

The superb Dinah Manoff’s standout scene is the dance-off, wearing a bottle green strapless ruched cocktail dress with diamante circular cluster between the bosom. Tight-fitting apart from a slight flare at the bottom, it goes just past the knee, but Vince Fontaine is drawn exactly where Marty wants as she jiggles about hornily yet awkwardly, cigarette holder between ripe “Maraschino, like the cherry” lips.

Her hair in a sophisticated ‘up-do’ with ruffled dress-matching ornament, drop pearl earrings, gold bracelet and clutch bag with matching high heels, Marty has seemed sexually repressed until now, spraying perfume innocently onto ‘penpal’s’ letters, faced here with the real prospect of a ‘romp’ with her dream older man. She looks grown-up, but the adolescent is revealed in her giggling shyness. For all of you blooper spotters out there, you’d be forgiven for thinking non-dancer Dinah Manoff had a few too many – she can barely stand up in her heels and sports knee pads!

Jan undergoes almost as much of an image change as Sandy throughout, albeit more gradual. Always eating, supposedly “fat”, shown through loose clothing, silly hairstyles and ridiculous posture and facial expressions, rather than reveal magical Donnelly’s slim figure.

We meet Jan in her signature look – baggy grey sweatshirt, little orange shirt collar poking through, huge orange-red, black and cream tartan skirt, white bobbysox and black Cuban-heeled leather shoes. An outfit her mother might have picked; Jan appears to hold no regard for fashion here with this hideous array, coupled with daft pigtails (dyed dark brown, her parting being coloured in with marker pen as her hair grew, as the actress was prematurely grey) in cream elastics. Her saving grace is her PL jacket, slightly too small, cuffs rolled up, and her trendy tortoiseshell sunglasses inlaid with diamante butterflies.

Jan needs the Pink Ladies the most, as it gives her a sense of identity and popularity she may not otherwise have, not being a particularly pretty or clever girl. Surely no coincidence that she wears her PL jacket the most. But Jan brings her qualities to the group, making them look good and keeping the Ladies amused.

Jan’s big moment, impersonating Bucky Beaver in the Ipana toothpaste commercial at Frenchy’s sleepover, was the actress’ idea. Clad in same grey jumper, blue and white plaid shirt underneath, white and blue pyjama bottoms, pink fluffy slippers and pigtails, she contrasts with Marty and Frenchy who have obviously given thought to their nightwear, in their girly shorty babydolls and hairnets (Marty has a scarlet red robe from a boyfriend in Korea, much to the others’ envy), though they all happily don wigs to mock Sandy.

Her turning point comes in a touching scene, where would-be suitor Putzie asks her to the dance-off and wins her confidence saying “there’s more to you than just fat”. Here she looks girly for the first time, although Grandma may have had the sewing machine out.

In an apricot chiffon collared dress with short puffed sleeves and floral embroidery, pinched in at waistband and puffing out in a circle, cream net petticoat underneath, flashing her big white pants, Jan is in joyous spirits. She wears white flats, a fashion step up from sensible black shoes; her hair is out of bunches and half-up under a sparkly tiara, corsage on wrist. She looks, and obviously feels like, a princess.

Jan’s confidence (and diet) is evident by the carnival, wearing a tight pastel green strappy dress with white buttons down and provocative neckline, and high white sandals. Along with her delicate necklace and flowers in her beautifully-curled hair, she is ready to leave Rydell a strong, self-assured woman in love, thanks to Putzie and the Pink Ladies.

Frenchy graduates happily in a significantly cute cotton white dress with huge purple polka-dots, short puffed sleeves and white cincher, garish all the way. However, the comb stuck in her belt shows she will never lose interest in preening. Her hair here was originally supposed to be green, but thankfully this was seen as a step too far.

Marty decides to stick with her own age, plumping for Sonny. In her canary yellow halter neck top, matching flower in her hair, spray-on white pedal pushers (trousers were worn only as very casual wear in the 50s’) and high white mules, she sings, dances and orders candy floss. She will always be sexy, but like all the Pink Ladies has dropped the act of ‘too cool for school’. The pink jackets are gradually discarded throughout, as they develop as individuals ready to go out into the world.

© 2009 – 2018, Lord Christopher Laverty.


  • Virginia

    absolutely – who hasn’t wanted to be a pink lady at some point?? the clothes are amazing! and so is this blog – incidentally! 🙂

  • Ben Mason

    I am a big fan of Marty and here’s a suggestion: what if Marty wore those glasses throughout the entire movie instead of that one scene? Dinah Manoff would have been even more famous. Heck she was only 19 at the time. That’s for you, Dinah. But i’m 31 years too late. DAMN!!!!

  • Courtney

    Hey Ben Mason, was Dinah Manoff (Marty) really only 19 years old in this film? PLEASE reply back!!

  • Ben Mason

    You’re half right courtney. Dinah was 19 when they started filming grease during the summer of ’77. Dinah’s birthday is January 25, 1958. The film was released on June 16, 1978, so Dinah turned 20 five months earlier. Dinah will be known to the world as Marty until the day she dies. I have the movie on VHS which has the old paramont logo and the gulf + western company at the start as well as the rockin’ rydell edition on DVD and Blu-ray which has the paramount logo in 1998. I prefer the old logo. On the DVD and blu-ray there are some deleted scenes that have been cut from the film but are on there as special features. There’s an article about it on wikipedia. If there was a director’s cut edition of grease someday, i would love to see all that deleted stuff added to the movie and put together, and I want to see that old paramount logo as well.

  • Ben Mason

    I would like for you to do an article on the pink ladies from Grease 2 very soon. The one with michelle pfieffer. Do one on the T-birds as well for both grease movies.

    • Chris Laverty

      Sarah has a wicked piece about Olivia Newton John coming up late Jan/early Feb. Being as she is the musicals expert I’ll ask her about doing something similar for Grease 2. Although, and I’ll be honest here, I’m not sure if she’s the biggest fan of Pfeiffer’s time at Rydell.

  • Courtney

    thanks for replying Ben! WOW that is so amazing that she was that young…she did such a fabulous job! She is by far my favorite character, and when I watch the movie, if she is in the scene she is the only one i watch! haha. I find myself trying to act more like her everyday…lol

  • Ben Mason

    Ben Mason here again. If you have an article on the pink ladies, you should do one on the guys who crack me up more: the T-birds. Don’t forget John travolta.

  • Ben Mason

    Ben again. What does Marty Maraschino’s name mean? I need to know the facts. Did you know that Stockard “Rizzo” Channing and Dinah “Marty” Manoff appeared in another movie together. It’s called Staying Together, released in 1989. I’m not kidding.

  • Ben Mason

    Ben Mason yet again. I can’t stop thinking about Marty. She almost looks like that gal on Empty Nest.

  • sarah h

    Being as there seems to be some call for it, I will definitely write an article about Danny Zuko and the T-Birds. As for ‘Grease 2’…I would need some definite persuasion. To me, it is incomparable to ‘Grease’.

    I would suggest that Marty Maraschino’s name is linked to the maraschino cherry, as suggested by the character herself in the film. The maraschino cherry is a sweetened form of the fruit, a little like Marty who sees herself as every man’s sweetheart, shown by her huge list of “penpals”. Maraschino cherries are often used as garnish, and again, what man wouldn’t want Marty adorning their arm. A cherry also has slightly sexual connotations, which suits Marty’s sex-kitten image.

    I did know that Channing and Manoff had appeared in ‘Staying Together’. Quite a hard film to get hold of, but I hear they each have a fairly explicit sexual scene in it, and we’re not talking ‘Grease’ levels here. You can watch the trailer and see various pictures of it online.

  • Ben Mason

    thanks sarah. Could you give me the names of those sites please? I want to see them. I know Dinah is changing clothes for work and sean “Rudy” Astin is touching her breast. I think. anyway, could you give me the name of those sites. Dinah is Lee Grant’s little girl after all, Right?

  • Ben Mason

    Ben again. I just saw the videos and pictures from staying together, and I have to admit, that is the most skin i’ve seen on Miss Manoff since the sleepover in Grease. We go from ruling the school to diamonds falling into macaroni to nosedives into breasts in just 11 years.

    Wasn’t Dinah on Empty Nest when staying together came out?

    Oh and by the way, I found some recent pictures of Dinah on from 2002 when she was at the jewish image awards. And can you believe it? Dinah is wearing glasses, but not the same ones from that 1978 movie.

    Go check it out, and let me know if you think they make her look smarter. I say she does. Just like Dinah says: History Sometimes repeats itself. If only she had sung freddy my love in Grease. Do you think Dinah would have done OK singing it?

    Marty wears pants the most often in Grease, in five scenes: the bonfire, frosty palace, the drive in, thunder road, and the carnival. She’s the Ellen Degeneres of the pink ladies. LOL.

    I must go now. Peace Out.

  • Ben Mason

    Ben Mason again.

    How in sam hill did frenchy get her name? And when does she explain it?
    Answer it please, sarah. as well as my previous question about Dinah’s glasses on getty images and why she did not sing freddy my love. Peace out. I’ll check often.

  • Ben Mason

    Sarah, It’s the Benster.

    I have some very big news about Dinah Manoff. A week from tomorrow will be her birthday. She will be 52. If you want to send Dinah a card, her address is:

    7222 NE Abies Dr
    Bainbridge Island, WA

    You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.

    I got the address off

    Peace Out.

  • Clark

    Hey Ben, referring to the “sexy” pictures of Dinah from “staying together”, I have to be a member and pay for Mr. Skin to see those pics don’t I? Lemme know man, I’m dying to see them!

  • Ben Mason

    Sarah It’s Ben.

    Please answer my questions. once again they are:

    Wasn’t Dinah on Empty Nest when staying together came out?

    Oh and by the way, I found some recent pictures of Dinah on from 2002 when she was at the jewish image awards. And can you believe it? Dinah is wearing glasses, but not the same ones from that 1978 movie.

    Go check it out, and let me know if you think they make her look smarter. I say she does. Just like Dinah says: History Sometimes repeats itself. If only she had sung freddy my love in Grease. Do you think Dinah would have done OK singing it and do you think she has a nice singing voice?

    I also need to know how frenchy got her name.

    Peace Out.

  • Ben Mason

    Just a quick reminder that Dinah Manoff’s birthday is on Monday.

    Peace Out.

  • sarah h

    Well, happy birthday Dinah for tomorrow. Another ‘Grease’ birthday coming up too on the 13th February – can you believe Stockard Channing will be 66?

    As for Dinah Manoff singing ‘Freddy My Love’, well, being as when Manoff got the part it was agreed she could neither sing nor dance, and that this should be kept to a minimum in the film for her role, then sadly I doubt she’d do it justice.

    How did Frency get her name? Well, this is revealed in the sleepover scene. She tells Sandy it was because of the way she inhales (or rather, exhales, in circles) her cigarette smoke, but when Rizzo says with a wink “sure it is”, this suggests it could be her kissing technique instead. Also this is an old-fashioned word for condom so there could be sexual connotations there too.

  • Ben Mason

    Sarah, there’s yet ANOTHER grease cast member having a birthday within the next month. I’m talking about the man himself, John Travolta on feburary 18.

    Here’s a strange fact: of the 5 lead actors and 5 lead actresses in grease, only two of them were not born in the big apple 3,000 miles east of where grease was filmed. Olivia “Sandy” Newton-John was born in England, home of Elton John, The Beatles and lots more. And Jamie “Jan Donnelly” was born in New Jersey where the Devils would not play in the NHL for another four years after Grease. Everyone else was born in New York City, even that Jewish girl.

    Speaking of which, I thought her career was finished after state of grace got cancelled. Dinah appeared in Bart got a room last year for a comeback. I’m not kidding, she’s in it. You’ll recognize her right away. We’ll have to see what happens next for Manoff. Personally, I would like to see her appear in a movie alongside Will ferrell or Jim Carrey.

    Oh and by the way, I found some recent pictures of Dinah on from 2002 when she was at the jewish image awards. And can you believe it? Dinah is wearing glasses. I think they make her look smarter, and just like she says: History Sometimes repeats itself. go check it out and get back to me on this.

    Peace Out and don’t let any diamonds fall into macaroni. That would be so Adolescent.

  • emillia

    Thank you so much this is just amazing! thank you thank you thank you!!!

  • gero

    im participating in a school play
    and yes we will do grease!!
    jaja ok just needed som info on my character
    i will be playing doody!!
    jaja ok thanks again!!

  • Eddy

    Jan not a pretty girl?
    To me Jan was the most prettiest girl of all the Pink girls!.
    And if you take a good look, even more beautiful than that populair blond look Olivia.
    Just look at Jan’s beautiful little laughing face.
    And those black pigtails Damnsexy!.
    I just love Jan or Jamie Donnelly!.
    Where can I find more pictures of Jan?

  • Sophie

    ahh i love marty : ) : ) she’s definately the sexiest and best there is ! mm want her style : )

  • Claudia Barclay

    I’m looking for a Pink Ladies jacket but I want one from Grease 2. They were satin reversible jackets. Pink on one side, black on the other. Noone seems to sell them anywhere. The only pink lady jackets I’ve found are not made very well. Only “costume” jackets. I want a real sturdy jacket, it doesn’t need to say anything on it… but I want it to be high quality… Any ideas??

  • franklin fuentes

    dear sarah h., when marty says that her ‘diamonds fell into the macaroni’.. she wasn’t referring to diamond earrings, she was referring to rhinestones (from her eyeglasses). 🙂

  • cynnermaxx

    To Ben yes Marty was on empty nest with Christie mcnichol. Loved that show.

  • Dawn Marzik

    Can anyone tell me why Marty wears a letterman sweater with HC on it? and what colors they are supposed to be? My daughter is playing the part in her middle school production and I’m working on costumes. Just kind of confused – it’s in all the costume plots I can find but can’t seem to find out why.

  • Zoia

    Hi, I’ve read the ‘Pink Ladies’ article, the ‘Rizzo’ article, the ‘Sandy’ article and the ‘Chacha’ article, and I thinkt that they’re all really good, especially as I don’t know that much about fashion. Do yout think that you could do something similar for the 1990’s movie “Cry-Baby” which was also set in the 50s and is also about a bad-boy/good-girl romance? The female lead is Allison, the Cry-Baby girls are Pepper, Wanda and Hatchetface (Mona) and Allison’s rival is Lenora. I think it’s a really good movie, you should try it some time! And again, I love these articles!

  • david

    I can surely identify with all the guys who expressed interest in “Marty”. She reminds me so much of a girl I attended high school with back in 1964-’65. Sharon was very beautiful. Too bad she was “the one who got away”.

  • david

    It’s me again and with other comments and a correction. I wrote that I attended high school with Sharon ( My “Marty” ) in 1964-’65. Actually, I was in high school with her from September 1964 to June 1966, during our junior and senior years. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much of Sharon since. The last time I saw Sharon was during our class’s fortieth reunion in August 2006. Like “Marty”, she was the heartthrob of the males of my class.

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