Fashionistas, dancers, journalists, high school students, and con artists alike— the fact is that more often than not, a character’s wardrobe plays a crucial role in the creation and development of a story. While some film fashion is more obvious than others, there are countless flicks that are heavily influenced sartorially. In an effort to bring a handful of those visually remarkable films to the forefront, our editors decided to cultivate a list of the most iconic and diverse films that made fashion a prominent focus!
The Great Gatsby
A favourite among our editors (We love you, Leo!), this cinematic adaptation of F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is filled with stunning nods to the iconic fashion of the 1920s. Having enlisted the help of some of the industry’s finest, from Daisy’s lustrous diamond and pearl headpiece designed by Tiffany and Co., to the crystal-laden gowns and bespoke tuxedos cultivated by Miuccia Prada and the Brooks Brothers, it’s no wonder Baz Luhrmann’s modernized rendition of this classic tale is nothing short of visually stunning and sartorially captivating. With the mesmerizing wardrobe and era-appropriate embellishments (Daisy’s bob is to-die-for!), each character’s opulent wardrobe perfectly captures the extravagance and luxurious appeal of the fashion from this roaring era, making for a stylistically hypnotic flick we couldn’t help but obsess over.
Flashback to Rydell High School, circa 1958: we’re surrounded by badass leather and bomber jackets, full skirts, off-the-shoulder tops, and high-waisted cigarette jeans— all of which are still entirely relevant today. Aside from having killer tunes (we’re still belting out “Summer Nights”), the classic musical includes retro fashion trends that we continue to draw influence from in our everyday attire, be it intentionally or not (you’d be lying if you said you haven’t recreated Olivia Newton-Johns’ iconic all-black ensemble from the film’s last scene). From Danny and the T-Birds’ edgy rolled up denim and perfectly quaffed pompadours, to the Pink Ladies’ preppy-chic attire with their sultry fitted pencil skirts, Grease pays homage to an era of exceptionally timeless style that has had a lasting impact on both film and fashion.
An Oscar-nominated film that couldn’t go without recognition, American Hustle features a style staple that is consistently worn by leading lady Amy Adams— the ever-provocative plunging neckline. Despite all of the other fashion that is featured throughout this timepiece (the insurmountable amounts of faux-fur, velvet suits, and body-hugging gowns…), the addition of the plunged Diane von Furstenberg and Halston wrap-dresses were significant sartorial components in the establishment of the film’s glamorous, 70’s discotheque vibe. A signature look for con artist Sydney Prosser, her daring neckline accurately encompasses the scandalous fragility of women and fashion during that time, ultimately demonstrating how less fabric and tailoring makes for a bold ensemble with a sultry, sexual flair.
Was there ever any doubt this would make the list? Filled with an array of tight minis (sexy red dresses, vinyl skirts, etc…), over-the-knee socks, daring headwear (shootout to Dionne's top-hat!), and enough plaid coordinates to last a lifetime, Clueless is one of the most iconic fashion-forward flicks to date. From start to finish, the film proves to be a timeless nod to what 90s fashion was all about—all of which is made most apparent by the one and only sartorial goddess herself, Cher Horowitz. Demonstrating her ability to transform a C+ to an A- (yes, we’re talking about you, Tai!), Cher’s status as an iconic style maven is anything but sporadic. With her preppy pastels, cropped sweater vests, and sheer tops to match, this Beverly Hills beauty (along with her equally trendy crew) is the epitome of 90s style perfection. Clueless’ nostalgia-inducing ensembles make for some seriously relevant sartorial inspo even 19 years after its debut — a legacy that we’re still totally buggin’ over.
While we completely recognize that this flick, by no means, includes the most appealing of fashion trends (e.g. Karen’s “Bling Bling” top), the truth is that Regina George and her fellow Plastics have taught us some pretty accurate lessons about the necessity of abiding by fashion’s do’s and don’ts… as well as the harsh repercussions that may result with one’s failure to comply. Cady Herron said it best, “Being with the plastics is like being famous” and with such popularity comes the difficulty of sustaining your dispensable reign as teen royalty—a title that is entirely deciphered by the ability to wear pink on Wednesdays, avoid wearing a tank top two days in a row, and remembering to save those comfy pair of sweats for Fridays only. The bottom line? Girl world is complex, dramatic, and absolutely ruthless, so chances are, rebelling against the strict sartorial code will earn you an entry in the Burn Book with the many others that have been personally victimized by Regina George.
The Devil Wears Prada
The cardinal rule? Never question Miranda Priestly. Adorned in Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Jimmy Choo... hell, basically any designer you could ever dream of wearing on a daily basis, Miranda Priestly is the epitome of high-fashion dominance. As we’re sure Andy Sachs… or shall we say, “Emily” can attest to, having a viciously demanding boss like Miranda doesn’t allow much room for error (or breathing, for that matter). However, with all judgmental gazes, pursed lips, and dismissal insults aside ("That’s all"), the film drives home a key point — being stylish is a total necessity! From Andy's drastic wardrobe transformation upon landing the job, to Emily’s unyielding devotion to the New York (and Paris!) fashion scenes, The Devil Wears Prada accurately divulges the pertinence of being sartorially conscious in the cutthroat world of fashion journalism.
Breakfast At Tiffany's
What first comes to mind when you think of the classic LBD? Holly Golightly, of course! With Hepburn peering into the display window of Tiffany’s in New York City, while adorned in delicate strands of pearls and her iconic little black Givenchy dress, the film’s opening scene is one that has left a lasting impression on the fashion world. Unarguably one of the most distinguished films to date, Breakfast At Tiffany’s is a sartorial phenomenon. Throughout the movie, Hepburn showcases a variety of chicly sophisticated ensembles and accessories alike—from her coveted orange pea coat and hat combo, to her adorable satin eye mask and tasseled earplugs. With her character’s naivety, sporadic ways, and initially questionable sense of judgment aside (Really? How can you not be in love with Peter Varjak?!), if there’s one thing we can attest to it’s that Audrey Hepburn is the quintessence of a fashion goddess. Combined with her daring yet classic look (her signature winged eyeliner being a favourite), her portrayal of Holly Golightly is one that had surely solidified her lasting legacy as one of film’s most beloved style icons.
Sex and the City: The Movie
Labels and love; the two most important “L” words as indicated by Carrie Bradshaw. While coming to realize that the “label” aspect of life isn’t nearly as essential as the latter, Manhattan’s fashionista never let her “Big Love” hinder the passionate (at times excessive) cultivation of her already blossoming closet. The film includes numerous sought-after pieces (her jaw-dropping Vivienne Westwood wedding gown and exquisite Manolo Blahnik cobalt pumps to name a few), as Bradshaw showcases the inescapable fact that she is an inherent style maven. Dressed in head-to-toe couture with her dream career, closest girls by her side, and the New York City skyline as her backdrop, Carrie Bradshaw is the embodiment of what every aspiring fashion journalist dreams of— a gorgeously fashionable fairytale ending.
An iconic representation of the polarity in dance culture, Flashdance epitomizes the fitness wear phenomenon of the 80’s. While we’re aware that perhaps some trends are better left for those annual theme parties (we’re talking about the overtly huge hair and blinding fluoro apparel), its influence is still present in some modernized pieces, like crop tops and the oversized grey sweatshirt. Divulging the contrast between conservative and unconventional, the craze over legwarmers and leotards wasn’t just worn amongst the athletes—it was a disparate look embraced by many. Drawing influence from the street dance community, Flashdance’s leading lady is the embodiment of being stylistically out of the box in a time where conservatism was the norm— a bold statement that has made significant waves in the fashion world.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Colorful, extravagant, and wildly over-the-top, Panem’s luxurious governing body, the Capitol, is an utter fashion fantasy. While we hate them for putting on the annual “Hunger Games”, if there’s one thing we do approve of (and often question), it’s their boldly hued fashion choices; and who better represents Capitol-Couture than tribute escort, Effie Trinket? While her ever-changing hair color (See above photo) is always a bizarre sight to see, it’s her collection of whimsically flamboyant dresses compiled from past Alexander McQueen collections that encapsulate her signature look. From lavender and fuchsia frills to the unlikely combo of fur and monochrome, these off-the-runway McQueen masterpieces play an essential role in the successful representation of the film’s outrageous sartorial craze.