Twenty-five years later, what have we learned from this Julia Roberts classic?

By Drew Mackie
Updated March 18, 2015 01:10 PM
Credit: Moviestore Collection/Rex USA

Looking back 25 years later, Pretty Woman‘s depiction of the Los Angeles prostitution scene was pretty misleading. The average Hollywood hooker probably shouldn’t have expected to be swept into a life of luxury by a kindhearted millionaire. Let’s hope adequate reality checks were provided before anyone hopped on a bus to follow in Vivian’s thigh-high boots.

That notwithstanding, there’s still a lot to be learned from this Julia Roberts classic, which hit theaters on March 23, 1990. From life changers to helpful hints for all kinds of non-prostitute-specific situations, check out the many life lessons we can take away from Pretty Woman.

1. Every outfit has its moment.

Even a cut-out mini dress held together with brass rings, just for a fleeting moment in early 1990.

2. Los Angeles has cleaned itself up since 1990.

And not just Hollywood Boulevard’s seedier blocks, either. Watch the opening titles and notice just how smoggy and washed-out it all looks.

3. Know your place, and respect those with seniority.

Even in the world of streetwalking, seniority matters. Forget that and get forever banished to the Monty Hall section of Hollywood Boulevard.

4. A woman’s feet may be better able to work the smaller pedals on a sports car.

5. You shouldn’t neglect your gums.

If Vivian can find time to floss mid-“business transaction,” so can you.

6. Apparently I Love Lucy can be an aphrodisiac.

One minute, it’s one of the least productive hooker-ing sessions ever, with Edward on the couch and Vivian sitting on the floor, laughing at Lucy stomping grapes. Then, a moment later, she and Edward are going at it.

7. And Prince is the great equalizer – a common musical language that spans socioeconomic classes.

8. Don’t treat people badly based on how they dress – especially if you work on commission.

9. Be nice to hotel staff, because they’re like fairy godmothers who can solve all your problems.

Even if you’re not actually paying to stay at the hotel. Thanks, Héctor Elizondo!

10. Stores are never nice to people. They’re nice to credit cards.


11. You don’t need to straighten your hair to look beautiful.

12. When in doubt at a fancy dinner table, just count the tines on the fork.

“Four tines, dinner fork. Three tines, salad fork.”

13. Expect escargot to be slippery.


14. Beware jewelry boxes.

Or specifically, beware people holding jewelry boxes open in exactly this matter, because as a result of this scene, people still think it’s funny to snap them shut on the fingers of the unsuspecting.

15. Pianos can be used for a lot more than just playing music.

16. Separate business and pleasure.


17. Your opera glasses aren’t broken. You’re holding them the wrong way.


Yes, few of us have had the opportunity to operate opera glasses. However, this writer maintains that this scene must have helped at least a few people maintain an aura of refinement during their first time operating these fancy-people binoculars.

18. You don’t need to understand Italian to enjoy opera.

19. There’s a right way and a wrong way to cheer at a polo match.

20. Reconnect with your roots in the most literal way possible.

A businessman walking around barefoot in the landscaping hasn’t gone crazy. He’s just centering himself.

21. One good villainous turn in a movie can override the goodwill you might have toward a familiar TV actor.

That Jason Alexander can be just so mean.

22. Everyone needs a Kit De Luca.

She’s a mess, but she cares about you, and she swears she’s going to get it all right one day.

23. Fire escapes are not only potential lifesavers. They’re also a romantic moment waiting to happen.

24. Do not underestimate the power of Roxette to bring lovers together.

25. A proper fairy tale has the fabled couple rescuing each other. It’s a two-way street.

See Julia Roberts’s Changing Looks