Dallas Styles: Cliff’s ‘Winner Look’


“Dallas’s” second-season episode “For Love or Money” establishes an interesting facet of Cliff’s character: He may be the show’s biggest cheapskate, but he’s willing to splurge on nice clothes.

The first time we see Cliff in this episode, he’s being fitted for a new suit at The Store while his sister Pam, a Store employee, watches and teases him.

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“I am impressed,” she says. “Did you get tired of your underdog look?”

“Underdog?” Cliff responds. “That’s out. Now it’s the winner look that’s in.”

The conversation alludes to the events of an earlier second-season episode, “Election,” when Cliff loses a race for state senate because he isn’t willing to play dirty like the Ewings, who backed his opponent.

After the loss, Cliff resolves to do whatever it takes to beat the Ewings. He begins an affair with J.R.’s wife Sue Ellen, then becomes the state’s land-use chief, a position he uses as a platform for revenge.

In “For Love or Money,” Cliff’s new suit – a three-piece, pinstriped number – symbolizes his attempt to emulate his wealthier enemies.

Cliff is wearing the vest and pants at the end of the episode, when his secretary buzzes him in his office to announce J.R. wants to see him. Cliff quickly and somewhat nervously dons the jacket and adjusts his shirt cuffs before opening the door to his archrival. The implication: He wants J.R. to see him as an equal.

This dynamic continues during “Dallas’s” later years. Cliff remains a tightwad – he lives in modest homes and never loses his affinity for Chinese takeout – but his sense of style never suffers.

The result: Ken Kercheval becomes “Dallas’s” sharpest-dressed actor. Flamboyant pocket squares becomes one of Cliff’s signatures, and in the next-to-last episode, “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” the character achieves his longtime ambition of taking Ewing Oil away from J.R.

Finally, Cliff isn’t just dressing like a winner. He is one.


  1. Is this the first step in Cliff’s Ewing-driven subversion from idealism to greed?

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