Pam Ewing becomes one of television’s most stylish women during “Dallas’s” second season, but she misses the mark with the wacky “pants dress” she sports in “Black Market Baby.”
Victoria Principal is first seen wearing the outfit during the episode’s third act, when Pam walks into The Store. She then wears it in the next two scenes, when Pam sits in her friend Liz Craig’s office and when she runs into Sue Ellen in the maternity department.
The just-past-the-knees dress appears to be a purple floral print worn over solid mauve pants, which match the vest Principal wears. The style is reminiscent of something Bea Arthur might have sported on “The Golden Girls” in the 1980s, so you have to wonder what “Dallas’s” wardrobe designers had in mind when they chose it for someone as young and sexy as Principal.
In “Black Market Baby,” Pam takes a job at The Store over the objections of Bobby, who clings to the old-fashioned idea that married women shouldn’t work.
Maybe the outfit is supposed to represent the balance Pam is trying to strike? Perhaps the pants symbolize how she wants to be on more of an equal footing with her husband, while the dress shows how she is holding onto her femininity?
Whatever the reason, let’s be thankful Pam reclaims her good fashion sense later in this episode, when she pairs jeans with a tie-front blouse. It’s a much more chic look for a character whose sense of style is one of “Dallas’s” hallmarks.