One of my later-in-life memories of someone wearing shiny spandex jeans on television came when I was in my teens or so. At that point such pants were dead and long out of fashion. But they were still firmly planted in my long-term memory from seeing them in my earlier days. This particular instance I speak of was Dorit Stevens wearing disco pants on and episode of “The Jeffersons” from 1981. She was about 25 or 26 then. Now if I have written about this previously I do apologize. It is possible. I have so many posts and this blog is at least six years old now. But I know I’ll be forgiven because this time around I have some very high quality stills of Ms. Stevens in her pants.
I first saw this episode around the time I had my first VCR which was a hand-me-down from someone. This was the early to mid 1990’s. I recorded the episode but it wasn’t an incident of pure luck. I probably saw the episode once and then feverishly kept searching TV Guide (remember that?) for when it would air again. With “The Jeffersons” it would have been a long cycle since that show was on for ten years. But whatever the case I managed to eventually get that episode recorded on VHS tape.
I have stacks and stacks of VHS tapes and to tell you the truth I couldn’t exactly find that particular one if I needed to at the moment. So thank goodness for YouTube and other video sharing websites! I found that very episode, titled “Alley Oops”, on YouTube or somewhere else and downloaded it. It was not very good quality but I was thrilled to have it on my computer and be able to watch at will. I even edited it to just the scenes Dorit and her disco pants were in and uploaded it to YouTube. Again, quality not very good.
This week I decided to purchase the seventh season of the show on dvd. I was never a huge fan of “The Jeffersons” but at $13 it was well worth it just to have that one episode in my possession. I went through the episode and it was absolutely stunning to see her in those pants in high quality video. Wow! Amazing indeed. I was able to see things I didn’t remember from my VHS version or couldn’t see in the YouTube-quality video. For instance, she was wearing knee-high pink boots! I took a still of each frame in every scene she was in and her pants at least somewhat visible. And the best images are what I want to share in this post.
First up is when we get to initially see ‘Sharon’–Dorit’s character–as she is walking into the bowling alley:
She’s a bit far away but already we can see that she is wearing some kind of skintight, shiny pants. When she comes to the foreground we get this:
From that shot it’s clear that she is wearing spandex disco jeans. And baby pink ones at that! This was 1981 and disco pants were still at the peak of their popularity. But that is a great view of the front of her pants even though it’s not a full view.
Next is a series of great views of her pants from the side and front, as she seems to be sitting on a table or other elevated surface:
In the above still we even get to see a bit of her back pocket!
In the next two photos we finally get to see the full length of her disco pants. This is where I finally was able to see that she was sporting knee-high pink boots. Funny thing is, this scene never appeared in the version I recorded onto VHS from TV all those years ago. I only saw this scene once I found this episode online somewhere. There were other scenes too that had been edited for length as well and some of them included ‘Sharon’ and her spandex jeans! Whoever did the editing of the syndicated version was not a fan of disco pants. Poor soul!
Next is the scene where we get the best views of ‘Sharon’s’ pants. It’s also the scene where we learn that her name is Sharon and that the guy she is hugging and kissing and spent the previous night with doesn’t even remember her name! And she wasn’t even phased by that! Anyway, here are some great views of her pants as she bends forward to say her name:
Those images of her bending there are what has mainly stayed in mind all these years. I just love how the pants have all those wrinkles. That is clearly a skintight pair of disco pants and I have used it as the standard with which to compare all my pairs. I always do that forward bend while looking in a mirror to see if I get that same wrinkling effect on my spandex jeans. If I do I know the pants are perfectly tight. If I don’t, well then, the pants need to find a new home.
Next we get to see some of her left side with a little of the pocket showing and some additional wrinkling on the outseam of the left leg:
There appears to be three, maybe four, wrinkle lines on the back of her pants starting from the outseam. I find that to be a little unusual. I usually get some lines just below the pockets but nothing farther below that. It could be her knee-high boots that are causing that additional wrinkling effect. Either way I don’t mind it at all. I love the look!
In the next two stills we get to see a little bit of the back of her pants. Yes, her bum but not much. She keeps her sweater pulled down most of the time and when it starts to creep up she pulls down on it again. I don’t know if this was written into her role to do that or if she was just self-conscious about wearing such wonderful pants. These pics are from her right side:
There we get to see her right back pocket and the seam which goes down the middle of the bum. Those rounded pockets indicate that the pants are one of the big-name brands, i.e. Le’Gambi, Frederick’s, Bojeangles or Michi. I have only had one pair of disco pants in that baby pink color and it was a Frederick’s brand. The reason I no longer have it is because some previous owner decided to make a permanent hem by cutting the hem as opposed to making a temporary hem in a number of different ways. So not only were they too short on me but they didn’t fit as tight as ‘Sharon’s’ fit her. But that’s as much as we ever get to see of her pink spandex jeans bum. (By the way, this is exactly how I prefer to wear my spandex jeans–with a sweater or sweatshirt that’s not too long or baggy and fits streamlined in accordance with the pants.)
Finally, here are a few more front views just before she goes off camera for posterity:
So there it is. From an episode of “The Jeffersons” titled “Ally Oops” that first aired in January 1981. Highly influential in my passion/obsession for/with spandex disco jeans. One thing is for sure–if there were a girl as pretty as Sharon and wearing shiny skintight spandex jeans waiting for me, I wouldn’t be very interested in bowling or doing anything else for that matter!
Now I have a little bit of commentary on this episode. It was early 1981. Disco pants hadn’t even been in fashion three years yet. But here was Dorit Stevens playing a not-very-bright character who was into mud wrestling, making out in public and spending the night with a guy who couldn’t even remember her name. ‘Sharon’ was clearly a woman who was looking to get by on her good looks and sexiness. She also didn’t seem to care what kind of guy she got involved with. ‘Vito’ apparently was not a bright bulb either nor someone you could depend on. As Jefferson’s “hanger-unbender” he did not seem to be someone who had any kind of future. Sex on the mind 24/7.
Why do I bring all of this up? I feel it’s a poignant statement being made about the people–particularly women– who wore spandex jeans. Hollywood once again was trying to put forth the idea that the people who wore such pants were sex-obsessed and/or unintelligent. Charlie’s Angels wore disco pants and they were positive characters. Erin Gray’s character in “Buck Rogers” was a huge one. Teen band Menudo wore disco pants and they were also positive individuals. There are plenty of other examples. But there seems to be more negative instances. The concept of having characters wear these pants as a symbol of bad girls or sex workers became an overused practice. Even Cagney of “Cagney & Lacey” wore blue spandex jeans when both of them went undercover as sex workers in an early episode.
While I am hugely grateful to see these pants onscreen in any capacity I just wish it would have been in a more positive light. I don’t believe disco pants is the garment of choice of bad boys or bad girls. Yes, it is a sensual article of clothing but it also has a lot to do with how one wears it. Even Dorit Stevens’ character wore a sweater and knee-high boots with her disco pants. Yet she was completely attractive and sexy nonetheless. Was Sandy from “Grease” a bad girl? Perhaps not until the end of the movie. But it had more to do with a change in her attitude, not in her change of clothing. She could have won Travolta’s character over had she been more agressive and less shy, change of clothing insubstantial. But that’s Hollywood, right? Hollywood createth and Hollywood destroyeth.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I was excited to make it. I may start doing this more often as I come across high quality versions of shows from this era.