Dallas Styles: 7 Iconic Looks from Sue Ellen Ewing

Dallas, Linda Gray, Revelations, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

She’s got the look

Sue Ellen WeekIn true “Dallas” style, Dallas Decoder’s recent Sue Ellen Week ended with a bit of a cliffhanger. Here at last is the final chapter, in which the wonderful Linda Gray joins me to discuss seven iconic looks she wore as Sue Ellen Ewing.


Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Who Done It?, Who Shot J.R.?

1. The Black and White Dress (1980)

Chris: This is the dress Sue Ellen wore when she was arrested for shooting J.R., and to me, it’s her most iconic look of all. Only Sue Ellen Ewing could make “prison stripes” look this fashionable.

Linda: That dress was an accident. We didn’t know that it was going to be the dress she would eventually wear to jail! I thought it was a little too “on the nose,” but as you said, it ended up being an iconic look that the fans just loved.


Dallas, Dusty Farlow, Jared Martin, Linda Gray, Lover Come Back, Sue Ellen Ewing

2. The Fur Coat (1981)

Chris: Here’s the coat Sue Ellen wears when she discovers Dusty Farlow is still alive. I remember watching this scene when I was a kid and thinking you were the most glamorous woman I’d ever seen.

Linda: I loved that coat and it was perfect for the scene. Soft and feminine. Remember, that was the 80’s and there was not a focus on not wearing fur as it is now. I don’t wear fur … but Sue Ellen would!


Changing of the Guard, Dallas, Goodbye Cliff Barnes, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

3. The Short Hair (1982)

Chris: When the 1981-82 season ends, Sue Ellen is at Cliff’s hospital bedside and your hair is long and flowing onto your shoulders. The 1982-83 season opens later that day with Sue Ellen leaving the hospital — and suddenly your hair is short!

Linda: I loved the haircut. I remember clearly going to [hairstylist] José Eber and telling him that I was tired of clips in my hair, ponytails and the hair constantly sticking to my lip gloss. He said, “Dahling, let’s create a new look!” He did. I loved it … and the producers hated it. Oops! Thank God all the fashion people loved it and we received several awards from hair magazines and fashion magazines as being one of the best coiffeurs in the 80’s!


Dallas, Dusty Farlow, Family Ewing, Jared Martin, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Rock Bottom, Sue Ellen Ewing

4. The Funeral Outfit (1985)

Chris: When Bobby’s funeral begins, Sue Ellen looks amazing in that hat, but by the end of the day, she’s come unraveled — literally and figuratively. She even loses that rock she wears on her finger.

Linda: Well, yes! She does look glamorous in that Valentino outfit, but as you said, she quickly unravels! It broke my heart when they literally tore the skirt I was wearing for the scene. They actually had to buy two Valentino skirts so it broke my heart that they had to ruin one! That show was when I first met Lou Diamond Phillips. He played one of the pimps on the street as Sue Ellen was walking aimlessly around having lost her ring!


Dallas, Linda Gray, Martha Scott, Pam Ewing, Patricia Shepard, Sue Ellen Ewing, Victoria Principal

5. The Oil Baron’s Ball Gown (1985)

Chris: This is my favorite Sue Ellen gown from the mid-1980’s, when Travilla was the show’s costume designer. You look amazing.

Linda: I loved Bill Travilla. He used to come into my dressing room and sit early in the morning and tell me wonderful stories of the glamorous women of Hollywood that he used to dress. Of course, we all remember the famous shot of Marilyn Monroe in that amazing white halter dress — which he designed — of her standing over the street grate. Talk about iconic. He knew how to dress the female body. He was a genius and designed clothes for the actors that suited their characters and their body type.


Dallas, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

6. The Executive Look (1986)

Chris: This is one of Sue Ellen’s first outfits when she becomes a business executive. I love that sassy expression.

Linda: I remember it clearly. I like that sassy expression too. It’s so funny because in all of these pictures I can “feel” the fabric! I remember the contrasting patterns being a bit bold back then but we were always trying to push the envelope a bit — or a lot — to give the audience an idea to play more with their wardrobe and become a little more creative.


Dallas, Ewings Unite, Gary Ewing, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, Ted Shackelford, TNT

7. Black and White Redux (2013)

Chris: To me, this outfit demonstrates the genius of Rachel Sage Kunin, the new show’s costumer designer. She manages to update Sue Ellen’s look while staying true to the character’s traditions.

Linda: I am honored and so happy to be working with Rachel. She gets it! She is creative, talented, knows her fabric and has gotten every single character dressed perfectly for their role. The other thing that people don’t know is that she dresses everyone on the show. Usually they have a woman wardrobe woman and a person for the men. It’s the first show that I have ever worked on where there is only one person — and I’m so glad that it’s Rachel.

Share your thoughts on Sue Ellen’s looks in the comments section below and read more “Dallas Styles.”


  1. Oooh… not bad, not bad at all! And nice score getting Sue Ellen herself to talk about those iconic looks! That was what made this article such fascinating reading, as I personally love and am fascinated by behind-the-scenes stories, etc.

  2. God damn that gal looks amazing! All hail Miss Texas!

  3. This is a really wonderful feature. You selected a wonderful set of outfits and it’s icing on the cake that Linda Gray commented on each of them too. How very cool!

  4. Can I just say how nice it is to always get to read your blogs….??!!! Even if I don’t respond….they are always fabulous to read. I was in a meeting and had to check my email when the notification of the Linda Gray interview came over. I almost squealed out loud..very inappropriate…lol. They have all been great. Great choices and I remember seeing all of them the first time and thinking then and now how great they were.

    Fantastic idea of having the lovely Miss Gray to comment on them. Yes, I am totally dying of jealousy. Extremous jealositus!

  5. Oh, that was wonderful! Great selection of outfits, and how fun that Linda Gray commented on them! I think that woman would look fabulous in a potato sack, she is just so gorgeous it’s not fair! 🙂 I really love that sweater she wore at Cliffs hospital bedside, I want one just like it. And I think she looked great with that short hair, she has a strong enough face to get away with it.
    On the new show, she really is sporting some great outfits, and I wish I could wear heels like she does! But for my own safety I better stay with a bit more sensible heels….:)

    • You know, Marie, I’ll confess: I was no fan of the short hair when I began re-watching Season 6 recently, but it grew on me. As you say, she has a strong enough face to make it work.

  6. Donna King says:

    Would love a bit of history on that huge diamond ring. I’m sure in reality it was a fake but still would like to know which jeweller set it and where the ring was purchased. also, how much it was worth in comparison to a real rock of that size.

  7. Great article and loved the fact that Linda commented! She is a beautiful lady and the fashions on the original Dallas were trendsetting to say the least! And at 72 she is still beautiful. She deserved an Emmy more than once for her portrayal of Sue Ellen.

  8. YES!!! The Black and White (both outfits)…SUGA (My nickname for Sue Ellen since forever) was Sugar Sharp in those fits. I always thought the original B&W dress was a great way of making the viewer wonder whether SE was guilty or innocent. I was SOOO not a fan of the short hair. I LOVED Linda’s auburn hair from seas 3 and 4 (I don’t use DVD count so 1980/81 and 81/82 seasons). With that said, I think Linda WERKED that short look like NOBODY else. And she was FIRST of the Primetime diva’s to chop the hair, feather it, and have the shag in the back (Not counting Lisa Hartman as Ciji Dunn , who really was first, cuz Ciji wasn’t a “diva”). Sue Ellen has had SOOOO many fits that make my top list. Too many to name.

    • LaShawn, I love your comments! I’m so glad you offered your feedback on this piece, which I really enjoyed writing. Ms. Gray was so generous to offer her memories of these hairstyles and outfits. The hardest part was narrowing my list down to just seven! Maybe one day she and I can do another retrospective of Sue Ellen’s styles.


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  2. […] beard in a half-day? It’s probably better not to ask. Let’s consider it this era’s version of Sue Ellen’s hair, which magically shortened itself between seasons in the early 1980s, even though mere minutes had […]

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  4. […] I knew I’d found my look of the week the moment Pamela turned up in that black-and-white dress in “Like a Bad Penny,” “Dallas’s” latest episode. The dress was a brilliant choice for Julie Gonzalo’s character for many reasons, beginning with its symbolic value: Pamela increasingly reminds fans of her mother-in-law Sue Ellen, who long ago made black-and-white outfits one of her signature looks. […]

  5. […] absolutely. It was kind of a tribute to Sue Ellen, who had so many memorable black-and-white […]

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