Movie-watching has been a favorite pastime for as long as anyone can remember.
From adventure, action and romance, to intrigue and suspense, movies have transported us through time and space to peer at new people and new places. They give us a glimpse into things we would not see otherwise and allow us an experience that often stays with us.
It is no wonder then that movies inspire more than just emotions, but also trends and fashion. It is not uncommon for any of us to be watching a film and think to ourselves, “I would love to own that.”
Emulating the style of our favorite stars and movie fashions is an ongoing obsession that is showing no signs of stopping. Scarcely is there a movie that does not inspire at least a little wardrobe envy, but there are always a few that stand out more than others.
While it would take forever to make a list of all the noteworthy fashion in films, here are few significant examples that will make you want to watch them just for the fabulous clothes:
”Desperately Seeking Susan”: This 80s cult classic is a fun take on mistaken identity and friendship in the unlikeliest of places. Topped off with Madonna’s trademark black leather and lace, this film has inspired many to adopt fashion forward trends like fingerless gloves, harem pants, layered jewelry and the mixing of sweet frilly dresses with tough leather jackets.
”Confessions of a Shopaholic”: This witty movie follows a sweet, albeit naïve, woman through her journey to discover that buying things is not the key to happiness. Complete with high-end fashion mixed with budget-friendly style finds, this movie pushed thousands of women across the world into wearing oversized belts, designer tweed trench coats and vibrant colors. We also can’t forget that signature green chiffon scarf.
”Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: Most everyone has heard of this film in one way or another. Audrey Hepburn’s portrayal of an unconventional socialite only slightly overshadows her amazing wardrobe in the film. Her movie style includes men’s dress shirts, cropped cigarette pants, oversized sunglasses, layered pearls and chic ballet flats.
”Pretty in Pink”: Angst-filled teen love triangle meets offbeat 80s fashion. It’s a match that has crossed decades and made this film nearly as popular today as it was back then. Molly Ringwald’s slightly nerdy, but totally adorable character made polka-dots, florals, and of course pink, things to be reckoned with. Her character turned slightly more mature fashions like brooches, lace collars and macramé into high school couture with funky accessories, girly colors and mixed patterns.
”Clueless”: This film is probably the No. 1 teen iconic fashion movie. Its modern take on the Jane Austen novel “Emma” features school-girl chic style like plaid skirts and menswear ties. Add to it a heavy dose of sheer flowy fabrics, Mary-Jane shoes and pastel cardigans and this movie is as fun to watch for the fashion as it is for comedy.
”Annie Hall”: This film gives menswear a whole new meaning. It pushes the envelope of androgynous fashion and inspires looks based on oversized trousers, fitted vests, button-up shirts and boyfriend jeans.
”Grease”: Pencil skirts, bomber jackets and sweetheart necklines abound in this film. No matter whether you like the music or not, the flamboyant 1950s style of this film still inspires many of today’s fashions. In fact, many of the styles worn in this movie are worn today in exactly the same way.
”When in Rome”: This adorable film features a workaholic art curator who flies to Rome for her sister’s wedding only to put herself in the path of a love spell. The main character has a business-worthy style that is hard not to covet. Tailored wide-leg slacks, minimalistic eveningwear, short-sleeved blazers, fitted button-downs and lots of layering make this a guidebook for anyone looking to up their game on their workwear wardrobe.
”The Women”: Though more typically known for her girl-next-door films rather than her fashion sense, Meg Ryan has a carelessly chic wardrobe in this film that is as noteworthy as it is simple. Though mostly casual, there is still a decidedly elegant feel about her clothes, and their look and feel of comfort and approachability. Add in the varied wardrobes of the other cast members in the film, as well as a runway ending and there is a lot of fashion to favor in this movie.
”Uptown Girls”: This is a sweet film about finding happiness and friendship outside the hard realities of life. Though the film is inherently upbeat, it does deal with some heavy issues. However, there is nothing heavy about the clothes in this film. Inspired by her carefree childhood, the main character wears flowing chiffon dresses, youthful embroidery and vintage pieces.
”Reality Bites”: Skater chic is what comes to mind with this movie. From Lainie’s messy pixie cut, sack dresses, flannels and shirt dresses to Vickie’s pin-up inspired baby-doll dresses, colored tights and chunky soled shoes, this film has a delightful mix of grunge meets girlie.
”The Hunger Games”: With storylines depicting the sacrifice and strength of young heroes in a dystopian society, it is no wonder that “The Hunger Games” movies have inspired many strong silhouetted fashions. Belted high-collar leather jackets, over-the-top evening gowns, combat boots, knitted cowl-neck scarves, exaggerated shoulders and button-down jumpsuits are just some of the styles that have emerged from these films.
”The Devil Wears Prada”: Literally a movie about the fashion industry via a high-profile magazine, this film has couture and designer clothing in spades. From the simple to the simply extravagant, there are lots of swoon-worthy outfits to covet in this film.
”The Great Gatsby”: Glamour, glamour and more glamour. For those with a love for the glitzy side of the 1920s, this film does not disappoint. Sparkles, sequins, fringe and feathers abound. If you haven’t given much thought to style in the 20s, this film will quickly make you a fan, with many pieces you will want to have in your current closet.
The “Twilight” saga: Though most of the clothing worn throughout these films is of the casual variety, there were some truly standout pieces, especially in the later films. A couple of truly notable standouts were Bella’s wedding dress and engagement ring. Both had a vintage beauty that would appeal to even the most modern of tastes. Also of note is character Alice’s wardrobe. As the saga’s proclaimed fashionista, her style bounces from girly to edgy and includes pieces like buttery red leather gloves, lace-trimmed dresses, cropped motorcycle jackets and menswear inspired vests.
”The Holiday”: With beauties like Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet in the leading roles, it is no surprise that the fashion in this film is elegant and crave-worthy. Both stars sport jewelry that is elegant and unique, from a diamond-filled shaker pendant that Diaz wears to a multi-chain delicate gold necklace on Winslet. Diaz’ character wears a range of winter fashions that include a beautiful shearling coat, a rather delicious navy cowl-neck sweater and a demure chiffon top, while Winslet’s character wears a more casual wardrobe of flowing tops and simple silhouettes, including a beautiful white, lace-trimmed top and a chic simple black dress.
”Atonement”: Both the storyline and the clothing in this film are dramatic and elegant. Though the standout piece in the film, a gorgeous green silk evening gown, could overshadow the rest of the fashion in the film, the elegant charm and modern adaptability of the rest of the movie’s clothing keeps that from happening. From slim pencil skirts to demure A-Line dresses and chiffon tie-neck blouses, this film has many pieces that can still be found in many modern wardrobes.
”Roman Holiday”: Audrey Hepburn’s contagious enthusiasm filters through to her wardrobe in this movie. Though filmed in black and white, there is nothing monochrome about the film’s clothing. From fun circle skirts, decorative flats and silk scarves, the lack of color in this film only serves to spark the imagination and inspires the watcher to imagine those pieces in whatever color schemes they would prefer. This gives the pieces an oddly familiar and personalized feel. Add to that the sharp contrast of casual wardrobe meets royal glamour and this film is a fan fashion favorite.
”Pretty Woman”: Perhaps the most well-known movie on this list, this film has a shopping scene that makes us all want to cheer when the down-to-earth Roberts puts a snobby sales clerk in her place. Aside from that cheer-worthy scene, there are lots of fun 80s outfits and clothing montages that will make you wish your shopping sprees were half as much fun.
”Great Expectations”: Like many of the movies on this list, there are several adaptations of this film. The version that seems to spark the most fashion commentary is the 1998 Gwyneth Paltrow version. Its dedication to a rich emerald green color throughout only adds to the appeal, and even though the styles are the more subdued variety well known in the 1990s, this movie has still sparked more than one fashion trend over the last 25 years.
”The Notebook”: Taking place largely in the 1940s, this film inspires lots of vintage envy. Simple shirt dresses, fitted peasant blouses tucked into tea-length skirts, high-waisted shorts and retro swimming suits land this film on many “fashion wanted” lists. Since versions of many of these pieces can be found in local stores and second-hand shops, this film has style that is easy enough to duplicate and pretty enough that you would actually want to.
”Bride Wars”: Though both Ann Hathaway and Kate Hudson’s characters in their films tend to lean toward the sweet and girly side, in this film they take opposing roles, both in fashion and function. Hudson plays a no-nonsense lawyer, while Hathaway plays a timid and mild-mannered teacher. Interestingly enough though, most of the differences in their wardrobes stem from the accessories and the way in which each character wears their pieces, rather from a huge departure in the actual styles. For example, both wear long belted trench coats, but while Hathaway’s is in a sweet color with a slight flare, Hudson’s is a somber beige, double breasted and trimmed in black, making a severe contrast. In another scene, both characters are seen wearing sleeveless black cocktail dresses, but Hudson’s crumb-catcher top and straight fit are a sharp contrast to Hathaway’s sweet floral waist broach and flared hem. Regardless, however, of which character is wearing them, the pieces in this film are stylish, beautiful and tasteful. Overall, there are many pieces in this film that lots of women would love to own.
”Amelie”: The modest French fashion in this film centers around simple silhouettes and layering. A more reserved type of style, the clothing in this movie is very sweet and unassuming. Cardigans, A-line skirts, boat-neck tops and ballet flats make up the fashion M.O. of this film. Though the clothing isn’t fashion forward, it does have a nostalgic, comfortable and easy-going feel, and the vibrant colors are fun and whimsical.
”You Again”: Though mean-girl Joanna is a show stopper no matter what she wears, it is the pretty and petite character played by Kristen Bell, Marni, whose fashion is the front runner of this film. From her chiffon mustard-colored top to her myriad unique and beautiful cocktail dresses, Marni’s fashion is spot on.
”Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”: A newcomer to the scene, this film is not short on spectacular style moments. Unlike the flamboyant style of “The Great Gatsby,” this film explores the regular side of fashion in the 1920s with covet-worthy velvet trenches, stacked t-strap heels, and menswear-inspired fashions. And we cannot forget about Queenie’s spectacular pink on pink coat.
As long as there continues to be films, there will continue to be generations of style that are influenced by them. Though this list is not in any particular order and there are countless more wonderful fashion film moments, these examples are some of the most favored and well praised.
No matter what your personal style, both in films and in fashion, there is always a little something for everyone.