26 of the most iconic movie outfits of all time

Wikimedia CommonsThe ruby red slippers from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ are legendary.

When looking back on classic films, cinematography, acting performances, and musical scores are often praised for the role they play in a film’s success. But fashion and costuming are no less important in Hollywood. Certain styles and designs can stay with viewers long after they finish a film.

From Dorothy’s ruby slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” to Cher’s yellow plaid outfit in “Clueless,” here are 26 of the most iconic movie outfits.

“The Gold Rush” (1925) featured Charlie Chaplin in a well-loved outfit.

United ArtistsThe baggy suit is one of his signatures.

In 1925, comedy legend Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed, and starred in “The Gold Rush,” a feature-length silent film set during the Klondike Gold Rush. Chaplin led the film with his “Little Tramp” persona, the character Chaplin is most known for, with his toothbrush mustache and oversized suit.

Ironically, the look of the iconic character happened while Chaplin was rushing to wardrobe. In his autobiography, Chaplin wrote: “I had no idea what makeup to put on … However, on the way to the wardrobe, I thought I would dress in baggy pants, big shoes, a cane, and a derby hat… I had no idea of the character. But the moment I was dressed, the clothes and the make-up made me feel the person he was.”

“Gone With the Wind” (1939) had a number of notable gowns.

Selznick International PicturesThe gowns were luxurious.

The grand historical drama “Gone With the Wind” won eight Oscars at the 12th Academy Awards, including “Best Picture” and “Best Actress.” Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butcher (Clark Gable) have a turbulent romance during the Civil War.

Throughout the film, Scarlett has a number of remarkable costume changes to flaunt her wealth and style. Perhaps the most memorable outfit from the film is the red dress that Rhett forces her to wear to a party with the intent of humiliating her as a harlot. Even so, Scarlett stunned audiences in her silk velvet ball gown.

“The Wizard of Oz” (1939) wouldn’t be the same without the ruby slippers.

natalie149/FlickrThey’re even in museums.

Although the first Technicolor film was released in 1935, “The Wizard of Oz” paid homage to Hollywood’s transition from black and white into colour as Dorothy (Judy Garland) stepped from Kansas into the colourful land of Oz. Dorothy’s outfit was a centrepiece of the film, with her blue and white gingham pinafore dress and ruby red slippers.

Though the slippers were originally silver in L. Frank Baum’s book, the colour was changed to red so that they would stand out against the famed yellow brick road. The slippers are so emblematic that they are even hailed as treasures of American history by the Smithsonian.

Who could forget Halle Berry’s costume in “Catwoman” (2004)?

Warner Bros. PicturesIt was quite the look.

In 2004, Halle Berry took over the big screen as Catwoman. Although the film was met with harsh criticism, her costume has become iconic.

According to The Movie Blog, Berry described the piece as “very bare, very urban, very downtown.

In “Casablanca” (1942) Humphrey Bogart’s look was timeless.

PopperfotoThe hats are memorable.

Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) is a nightclub owner who helps his ex-lover Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) escape from war enemies in 1941 Casablanca.

At the end of the film, Rick urges Ilsa to go with her husband as rain pours down upon them. Despite their love for each other she has to leave, but in his drenched tan trench coat and wide-brimmed fedora, he promises that they will “always have Paris.”

“The Seven Year Itch” (1955) featured Marilyn Monroe’s most memorable film scene.

In “The Seven Year Itch” a man strays from his wife when he’s tempted by a beautiful neighbour (Marilyn Monroe). Most people know the film from the iconic photo of Monroe standing over a subway grate as her white dress blows up around her.

In 2001 Monroe’s white ivory cocktail dress was auctioned for $US5.6 million, which was five times the amount paid for Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” little black dress.

“Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) captured what teenagers wore at the time.

Warner Bros.James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’

Starring James Dean and Natalie Wood, “Rebel Without a Cause” was one of Hollywood’s first forays into the life of a teenager.

Weighed down by no direction and disapproving parents, Jim (Dean) tries to prove his worth in drag races and knife fights. The character of Jim Stark is best remembered wearing a trendsetting red leather jacket, white tee, and blue jeans as he rebels against society.

Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) dress was influential on contemporary fashion.

Paramount PicturesIt’s one of her most iconic looks.

Audrey Hepburn was already at the top of her game for her work in classics like “Roman Holiday” and “Funny Face” when she starred in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a romantic comedy that follows a young socialite (Hepburn) as she falls in love in New York City. Hepburn wears many outfits throughout the film that allude to her high-class status, but it is the black dress she wears in the opening scene that stands out most in people’s minds. Heralded as a pinnacle in twentieth-century fashion, Hepburn’s Hubert de Givenchy dress set a trend for “little black dresses” and remains an essential item in fashion today.

Zhang Ziyi stunned with bright colours in “House of Flying Daggers” (2004).

Sony Pictures ClassicsHer outfits had incredible detail.

In “House of Flying Daggers,” Zhang Ziyi plays Mei, a dancer who is blind (although it’s later revealed she has faked her blindness) arrested on the suspicion that she has ties to a rebel group in China.

Ziyi’s outfits were so remarkable that Emi Wada, the film’s costume designer, won a BAFTA award for Best Costume Design in 2005.

Naomie Harris wore a breathtaking gown as Eve Moneypenny in “Skyfall” (2012).

Sony Pictures ReleasingIt’s hard to imagine doing the stunts she did in that dress.
The only thing more memorable than the action sequences in “Skyfall” was Naomie Harris’s stunning gold gown.

Playing Eve Moneypenny, Harris kicked butt wearing a gown straight off of Wakeley’s autumn/winter 2011-12 runway.

“Cleopatra” (1963) was a parade of decadent costumes.

20th Century FoxThere was plenty of glamorous looks.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred in “Cleopatra” a historical drama based on the life and reign of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. The film is shrouded in notoriety for its financial losses, huge budgets, and the scandalous on-set love affair between Taylor and Burton.

Also memorable are the elaborate costumes, jewellery, and headpieces that Taylor wore throughout the film. Taylor even started a new beauty movement by doing her own dramatic eye makeup for the film: thick eyeliner and blue eye shadow coating her lids and brow. This was best paired with the queen’s blue dress, golden cape, and tasseled headpiece for a commanding, iconic look.

The “Mary Poppins” (1964) costume has layers of meaning.

Walt DisneyThe colours were intentional.

Julie Andrews starred in the classic musical “Mary Poppins” when she was 29 years old, and it would become one of the most influential films of her career. Based on the “Mary Poppins” book series by author P.L. Travers, the musical focused on a fantastical nanny as she improves the lives of a London family.

Andrews’ then-husband Tony Walton was hired to create the costumes for “Mary Poppins,” including Mary’s unforgettable dress, umbrella, and hat. To the San Francisco Gate, Walton said, “My most fortunate notion was giving Mary Poppins a secret life. I showed this by making her clothes grey or black or slate but showing she had a secret life by their linings, which were always flashes of crimson or some very bright colour. Julie loved that idea and really made good use of it.”

“A Clockwork Orange” (1971) had eccentric costumes to match its mood.

Warner Bros.The white outfits are futuristic.

Based on the Anthony Burgess novel of the same title, “A Clockwork Orange” is a Stanley Kubrick film that took place in a dystopian Britain. Alex (Malcolm McDowell) is a hyper-violent, disconcerting youth who commits crime sprees with his gang of friends.

In the film, Alex wore a futuristic white jumpsuit paired with a black bowler hat. The outfit is as outlandish as the film itself and mirrors the otherworldly, disturbing tone that Kubrick intended.

In “Maid in Manhattan” (2002), Jennifer Lopez’s style evolves.

Columbia PicturesHer all-white ensemble is memorable.

“Maid in Manhattan” follows Marissa Ventura, played by Jennifer Lopez, who cleans rooms at a luxury hotel.

Early in the film, Ventura is cleaning the room of a wealthy socialite, Caroline Lane, when she is convinced to try on the woman’s expensive coat. Her soon-to-be love interest, Chris Marshall, then walks into the room and instantly becomes smitten with Ventura, thinking she is Lane.

The iconic Dolce & Gabanna coat and all-white ensemble marks the beginning of Ventura’s complex and deceitful relationship with Marshall.

Diane Keaton brought her own personality to “Annie Hall” (1977).

United ArtistsShe put a spin on menswear.

The controversial Woody Allen may have directed, acted in, and written “Annie Hall” but the titular character (Diane Keaton) was the center of the film and the focus of the protagonist’s affections.

Her outfits stood out because they were unique: in her introduction scene, Annie is dressed in a men’s shirt, black vest, polka dot tie, and fedora. She continues wearing classically masculine looks with hints of flair that are entirely her own. Keaton’s style was nearly identical to her character’s off-camera as well, proving that she brought her own personality and style to the film.

The matching suits in “The Best Man Holiday” (2013) were meant to be remembered.

Universal PicturesThe men stunned in black suits.

In “The Best Man Holiday” the four leading men wear perfectly tailored black suits with red pocket squares and black fedoras.

What perhaps makes the outfits even more memorable is the performance associated with the infamous black suits. The men master a dance to “Can You Stand The Rain” by New Edition.

Sandy’s outfit in “Grease” (1978) came at a pivotal point in the film.

Paramount PicturesThe black leather ensemble is famous.

The much loved musical romance “Grease” is still remembered for its musical performances like “Summer Nights” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.” In the film, Australian exchange student Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) falls in love with greaser Danny Zuko (John Travolta) to their friends’ dismay.

After drama and heartbreak, the film comes to an end when good girl Sandy stuns Danny by showing up to the school carnival in a tight black leather ensemble and bright red heels. When reminiscing about the movie, Newton-John told Daily Mail that Travolta was “quite happy” when he saw her in those fitted black pants.

“Flashdance” (1983) was emblematic of ‘80s fashion.

Paramount PicturesIt captures the 80s.

Though it initially came out to poor critical reviews, “Flashdance” was a box office success that has endured as a classic. The romance drama starred Jennifer Beals as a welder and exotic dancer who yearns to attend ballet school.

Though Beals wore a red leotard and high heels for the memorable bucket drop scene at the cabaret, most remember her character in an off-the-shoulder grey jersey and a pair of leg warmers. This look captured the essence of ’80s fashion.

“Pretty Woman” (1990) told a story of transformation through style.

‘Pretty Woman’The red dress is memorable.

Julia Roberts was the romantic comedy queen of the ’80s and ’90s, with “Pretty Woman” standing as one of her most famous. In the movie, Vivienne (Roberts) is a sex worker whose life is changed forever when wealthy businessman Edward pays her to accompany him to high-end social events. Much of Vivienne’s transformation is portrayed through her costume changes, including an elegant red gown with elbow-length gloves.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the costume designer for the film Marilyn Vance said: “Vivienne’s journey begins through fashion – by seeking help to change her wardrobe to fit Edward’s high-class lifestyle. Each and every outfit, including the red gown, was custom made for her character, because of the fashion cycle.”

Constance Wu’s dress in “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) will be talked about for a long time.

Warner Bros.She stole the show in the blue dress.

In an attempt to wow her boyfriend’s mother and his entire intimidating family, Rachel Chu, played by Constance Wu, is dressed to perfection in a floral blue gown.

In the pale blue Marchesa gown, Wu’s character exuded confidence and was able to prove herself to her boyfriend’s wealthy family.

In describing the dress, the film’s costume designer, Mary Vogt, told Page Six, “Constance actually found this Marchesa herself, and showed me the picture. We’d looked at a million dresses, and Jon kept saying, ‘I want her to have a Cinderella moment.’ This dress was perfect – and because the design wasn’t brand new, Marchesa was willing to lend it to us for a month.”

“Clueless” (1995) had a yellow plaid outfit that is still referenced today.

Paramount PicturesThe yellow plaid ensemble has been recreated by many fans.

“Clueless” is a coming-of-age comedy that was based on a contemporary interpretation of Jane Austen’s “Emma” set in Beverly Hills, LA. The film starred Alicia Silverstone as Cher, a misguided teenager who means well but is too vain for her own good.

In June of this year,Silverstone paid homage to her “Clueless” character by wearing a yellow plaid outfit and white high socks while performing on “Lip Sync Battle.” She even sang “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea, a singer who in turn referenced the ’90s film in her “Fancy” music video.

“The Fifth Element” (1997) had plenty of creative costuming.

GaumontIt has some futuristic fashions.

Director Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element” is a science-fiction action movie starring Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, and Gary Oldman. Set hundreds of years in the future, Willis plays a futuristic cab driver who becomes caught up in a plot to defend Earth from cosmic forces.

Because it is set in the 23rd century, “The Fifth Element” has an array of interesting and distinctive costumes. Namely Jovovich, as a humanoid named Leelo, stands out in her cropped orange hair and thin white suit of bandage-like strips. Costumes like these help set the film in a fantastical setting.

The black outfits in “The Matrix” (1999) have become synonymous with the film.

Warner Bros.The sunglasses completed the look.

“The Matrix” came out right at the end of the 20th century and helped portray societal anxiety over technological advances in a thrilling science-fiction movie packed with action. Lead actor Keanu Reeves played Neo, a man who realises that he has been living in a computer simulation driven by machines. The film and subsequent trilogy made a huge impact on the science-fiction genre.

In the film, Neo wears sunglasses and a slick black heel-length coat, an ensemble that became inseparable from his character’s image. Costume designer Kim Barrett told the Academy Awards: “I think that all costumes that become synonymous with a particular movie have a long-term resonance in the subconscious of people. To a certain extent, our costume will always be included in that.”

“Kill Bill: Volume I” (2003) paid homage to Bruce Lee.

Miramax via YouTubeThe yellow tracksuit is legendary.

Uma Thurman stars as a bride who seeks vengeance on a team of assassins after they attempt to kill her and her unborn child. The film combined martial arts and sword fights in thrilling action sequences as Thurman sliced her way to victory.

On her path to revenge, Thurman wears a bright yellow tracksuit lined with dramatic black lines down the pants and sleeves. The look is directly based on martial artist and actor Bruce Lee’s own yellow jumpsuit that was worn in the film “The Game of Death.”

“Atonement” (2007) amazed viewers with a spectacular green dress.

Universal PicturesThe dress was simple but modern.

In the period drama “Atonement,” Keira Knightley and James McAvoy played star-crossed lovers torn apart by misheard rumours and the terrors of war. In the film, Knightley wore a gorgeous green backless dress that stunned audiences.

Costume designer Jacqueline Durran spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the remarkable dress on the 10th anniversary of the film: “There’s a shot of her standing, smoking outside – this side shot – and the dress is quite well laid out. It’s a great shot; it has a real ’30s glamour but it’s also a bit more modern … You can make a really brilliant dress but … unless you frame it in a way that’s really going to sell it to its best advantage, it’s never going to have the impact it could have.”

“Mad Max: Fury Road” (2016) delved into a world of dynamic costumes and designs.

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.They also had to be able to work in their costumes in the desert conditions.

For the third entry in the “Mad Max” franchise, “Mad Max: Fury Road” costume designer Jenny Beavan won an Oscar for her work on the film. Set in a post-apocalyptic world of machinery, chaos, and patriarchal violence, the visual look of the film is unlike any other. Notably, a soot-covered Furiosa (Charlize Theron) spends most of the film in a sand-coloured top, heavily belted corset, and a fitted metal arm.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Beavan talked about the unusual production process for the film. “Not only did it have to look amazing, they had to be able to work in it, they had to have safety built into it,” she said. “Everyone had to wear goggles in the end because of the sand and you know racing through the desert churning up the sand was dangerous.”


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